Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Making peace with 'good enough'

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    summer street
    Posts
    2,708

    Default Making peace with 'good enough'

    Growing up I was always encouraged to be ambitious and strive to do my best. Now I struggle to accept that sometimes what I am doing is good enough: being a sahm and not fulfilling career goals, parenting when tired and over stretched etc.

    Do we do out kids and ourselves a disservice when we push towards 'good, better, best'?



    When is it ok to just be good enough?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Making peace with 'good enough'

    deleted as I really should have read your post better

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Ubiquity
    Posts
    9,922

    Default Re: Making peace with 'good enough'

    I think it's a slippery slope either way. I would hate for my children to not see their worth. But on the flipside I would hate to see them have no value in hard work or in making an effort.

    I think in a lot of cases where we don't believe in ourselves there is an underlying issue that is greater than our parents teaching us to strive to be our best. Sometimes it can relate to siblings, lack of acknowledgement, insecurities and self esteem.

    I like challenging myself to be the best I can be as a mother, as a friend as a partner and as a human on this planet. But perspective is necessary. And with perspective I can see what is important in the long term. It doesn't always work the way I would like. But that's just something else to work on

  4. #4

    Default Re: Making peace with 'good enough'

    If 'good enough' is what somebody can achieve in that moment for whatever reason then doesn't that also make it their 'best'?

    I think striving to give your 'best' is a worthy aim, it just involves understanding your 'best' will look different from day to day, circumstance to circumstance and from other people's versions.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    3,300

    Default Re: Making peace with 'good enough'

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcadia View Post
    Growing up I was always encouraged to be ambitious and strive to do my best. Now I struggle to accept that sometimes what I am doing is good enough: being a sahm and not fulfilling career goals, parenting when tired and over stretched etc.

    Do we do out kids and ourselves a disservice when we push towards 'good, better, best'?

    When is it ok to just be good enough?
    'Good enough' is what I live by. I do think pushing towards 'best' can be problematic - but just define your own version of best. I read this ages ago I think I have posted it on here before - I love the last paragraph - bold. (Is from Huffington Post by Shelia Quirke - The 'Good Enough' Mother)

    I've been stewing about this post for months. MONTHS, people. I wanted it to be perfect: Clear. Concise. Informative. Witty. Earnest. Knowing. Comforting. Wise.

    Bah!

    My need for perfection is completely counterproductive to this discussion and a direct slap in the face of my intent, but it took me until just this second to realize that. What can I say? I'm slow like that sometimes. Settle in, folks, and let's chat, mother to mother, mother to father, parent to parent, failure to failure.

    Once upon a time there was a man named Donald Winnicott. He was a pediatrician and psychoanalyst in mid-20th century Britian. For psychology wonks like me, he is a rock star. I learned about him in graduate school and he changed my life for the better. He's not cool enough to have cured cancer, but his theories were significant enough to include in my wedding vows. And that tells you something about me -- I included psychoanalytic theory in my marriage vows. God bless Mary Tyler Dad.

    This man taught me everything I know about mothering.

    Winnicott developed a theory in 1953 called the 'Good Enough Mother.' Now before I upset any Dads in the house, know that this theory, in my belief, applies to you as well. But in 1953, there weren't a hell of a lot of stay-at-home dads running around. And those that did exist were probably shunned a bit. So please understand Winnicott's language and theories through their historical context.

    In a nut-shell and in Winnicott's own words:

    A mother is neither good nor bad nor the product of illusion, but is a separate and independent entity: The good-enough mother .. starts off with an almost complete adaptation to her infant's needs, and as time proceeds she adapts less and less completely, gradually, according to the infant's growing ability to deal with her failure. Her failure to adapt to every need of the child helps them adapt to external realities.
    The failure Winnicott refers to is not specific to bad things that mothers do that damage their children, but instead, the perception of the child as the child grows and develops that Mom is no longer able to "fix" everything or make it all better. No parent can ever meet every single need of a child from the child's point of view. If this were true, the toddler temper tantrum would not exist. Think about those states of mind kids get into with the dramatic mood swings and crazy demands. No way in freaking hell that those whims should be catered to by a parent, hence the concept of a parent's "failure."

    When I first read this theory, I was about as far away from parenting as one could get. I was single, living in a dimly lit studio apartment in Chicago, working half-time and going to graduate school full time. The whole concept of parenting was not on my radar. I was in my mid-20s and way more interested in dating, clubbing, learning and, as I fondly like to say, "developing a personality." Because I was such a squirrel growing up -- no interest in sex, drugs, or rock and roll -- I embraced the late bloomer thing fully at this stage. So, yeah, parenting was not on my agenda.

    But those words -- good enough -- spoke to me in a way that made an impression. I carried them with me, mentally, and applied them as needed. The graduate school mantra of "turn something in," regarding papers, etc. was nothing more than "good enough" applied to course work. The Christmas gifts hastily purchased and wrapped just moments before they were opened were "good enough." Throwing all my laundry into one load was "good enough," as clean skivvies were more valued than spending $ on small loads of properly-sorted piles.

    After Mary Tyler Dad proposed to me, I applied the concept of "good enough" to our wedding planning -- nothing fancy, nothing spectacular, no Bridezilla here. Truth be told, Mary Tyler Dad was way more freaked out on our wedding day than I was. The food was okay, the dress was acceptable, the wine was passing. Somehow, though, the total effect was sublime.

    'Good enough' had served me well in the planning of the wedding, so I decided to integrate it into my marriage by vowing to be the "good enough wife and mother." I take my vows seriously. Irish sentimentalist that I am, I laminated copies for Mary Tyler Dad and I right after the honeymoon that we both carry in our wallets. I wanted those words to be more than fancy promises, so my vows were about Cheerios, work-life balance and good enough wifing and mothering.

    The concept frees me with its liberation from expectations. I never have to be perfect, I only have to be good enough. If you read further into Winnicott's theory, you learn that striving for perfection is a sure path to screwing your kids up in epic proportions.

    Something else to recognize is that my version of good enough is going to be vastly different than your version of good enough. What is acceptable to me just might be considered neglect by others. And what you consider standard practice is something I might never condone for Mary Tyler Son. That sounds extreme, but my infamous Facebook car seat debacle was proof that parenting standards are hard core personal.

    My point is this: Embrace the concept of "Good Enough." Breathe it in, breathe it out. Let it wrap around you and soothe your tired, worried, guilty soul. You will fail your child. You will. It will happen. Some of us do it daily. Some more spectacularly than others. What Winnicott tells us though, assures us from his mid-century psychoanalytic throne, is that it is okay. Everything is going to be okay.


  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    summer street
    Posts
    2,708

    Default Re: Making peace with 'good enough'

    Thanks for the replies.

    Yes I think perfectionism is underlying this discussion, because as soon as I think about my perception of 'good' I know it's at a very high standard (for everything). I also think 'good' is set by our society and the circles we move in: sausages and mash might be a good, heck great meal in some families and in others anything that is processed or non-organic is sub-par. So how do we choose the standard that is right for us?

    That article was very thought provoking, thanks for sharing.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Ubiquity
    Posts
    9,922

    Default Making peace with 'good enough'

    We run in different circles. Bangers and mash is the best.

    Fore I'll be honest. Things change depending on what stage of life I'm at. Pre kids I and before my second child I was a clean freak. I still am but I tell her to shut up most of the time. When my kids were little I was a lot more easy going with routine. And schoolwork. But the closer my DD gets to living in the real world I feel the pressure to make sure she has all the right skills. I don't put pressure on her. But I do worry more.

    (Ooo have to run will post more later)

  8. #8

    Default Re: Making peace with 'good enough'

    I can struggle with perfectionism, certainly did growing up. To the point of just not trying or self sabotaging, any sort of rebellion against the pressure.

    I think a lot of problems arise from the culture of testing. Perpetrating this idea that your achievement can only be measured through some small window rather than as a whole body of work over time, with ups and downs and trials and errors and one step back. It is a fluid state of being to grow and learn and try but we present it as this linear progression with everyone racing to the finish line, to 'best'. And somebody else outside of your control is in charge of this timeline. Like say at school your class spends time learning a period of history, you then have to take the test when they deem you should be ready whether you feel ready or not, you only knew half the facts - 50% bam that's your label even if the next day you learn it all and remember that for life, that's irrelevant to them, they don't let you take the test again, they don't go back to help you as you learn it on that personal and different schedule, I mean that's your window and we're onto something new now. And not having learnt it a day earlier could have been through no fault of your own, you could have been putting in your best, it just needed an extra 24hrs to click into place, so what is even our aim here - is it to learn? Because if it is then why make the when so important and final? Makes it kind of seem like the point is just to ace a series of tests rather than the content. I don't think it sets up a very good perspective to live in a culture where you can't get an answer wrong on the way towards getting it right (or you can as long as it fits into a timeline determined by others), come test day if you get it wrong, that's that. Or what if you have someone who can demonstrate their knowledge of a subject verbally, they have no problem applying it to various situations in their life but they just can't seem to get it straight on a written test (and say in this case this person will never have to use it in test form again) but the test is 70% of their grade so that's it, failure. Having a test at an externally determined time suddenly puts this end stamp on your progression.

    And I think parents can fall into that trap too with their children. Say a child is pouring milk and spills it, if a parent is going to make it this big deal suddenly this child is thinking well practice is just an opportunity to be negatively judged or yelled at or punished, I need to achieve perfection first time, there is no room for failure on the way to success. So I don't think it is encouraging people to try their best where we do children disservice, it is in grading their tries and chastising their failures that we stigmatize those two states of being even though they are almost always necessary on the road towards competence and success in whatever area. Towards the aim of achieving your best. This can have deep and long lasting effects on a person.

    So I really think we need to be shifting focus away from results and onto the process. The most exciting thing I hear from my kids is them saying "oh this wasn't working so I tried it this way instead" or "I made a mistake but I figured out how to fix it", having extra time and steps towards their goals in no way diminishes their achievements. Making mistakes shouldn't be discouraged; the courage to try, the tenacity to keep trying - those should be celebrated. And doing so with our children is extremely healing to ourselves.

    With parenting, there are so many places where we can be tempted to test ourselves - whether it is how we respond to our child is running around the shops or what they had for dinner and we can catch ourselves feeling like we have failed especially if we start grading ourselves against the snapshots of others. But we are still raising the child, we are still within the process stage. We are still allowed to be finding our way and so are our children, that's life.

    I think finding your standards is all about building out your ideals into priorities. Which is an ongoing thing but the clearer your priorities, the easier it is to make all the big and small choices that make up your life. And to feel comfortable within them.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Making peace with 'good enough'

    I am good enough, and always do my best. Not the best, but my best. And I can aim to improve.

    I measure myself by my standards. I would like to dress up for a home made 3 course gormet meal every night. But I accept that pizza is sometimes what I can do. And that's ok. No-one died from having pizza as their main meal every now and then.

    I don't care if Mel or Mandy or Marie do or say something else. They are not me, with my life and my journey. They do their best, I do mine, and we can support each other rather than saying that their best isn't good enough.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    3,300

    Default Re: Making peace with 'good enough'

    I think having a 'lazy gene' helps :-)

    I am reading a book at the moment called "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown - tagline "Let Go of Who Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are". I am not far through it - but it might interest you? - is funny because normally I am not into 'self-help' type books at all but I read an article somewhere which referenced it and I thought it just sounded interesting - although I think I am quite good at embracing who I am, I still thought I might learn something.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Making peace with 'good enough'

    Quote Originally Posted by wysiwyg View Post
    I think having a 'lazy gene' helps :-)

    I am reading a book at the moment called "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown - tagline "Let Go of Who Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are". I am not far through it - but it might interest you? - is funny because normally I am not into 'self-help' type books at all but I read an article somewhere which referenced it and I thought it just sounded interesting - although I think I am quite good at embracing who I am, I still thought I might learn something.
    Reminds me of a quote that I find helpful in parenting - "If your child is more important than your vision of your child, life becomes easier." Sandra Dodd.

  12. #12

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    3,300

    Default Re: Making peace with 'good enough'

    I think this is the quote that lead me to the book

    Wherever perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun. Perfectionism is not about healthy striving, which you see all the time in successful leaders, it's not about trying to set goals and being the best we can be, perfectionism is basically a cognitive behavioral process that says if I look perfect, work perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid shame, ridicule, and criticism. It's a defense mechanism.

    When I interview leaders, artists, coaches, or athletes who are very successful, they never talk about perfectionism as being a vehicle for success. What they talk about is that perfectionism is a huge trigger, one they have to be aware of all the time, because it gets in the way of getting work done.
    It was from a business article called "WHY DOING AWESOME WORK MEANS MAKING YOURSELF VULNERABLE" but I think it translates.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •