How To Be A Good (Enough) Parent
Tbh, I'm still figuring this out.
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How To Be A Good (Enough) Parent
Many of you know I became a mom for the first time in 2021. I don’t know if it was the pandemic, the hormones, or the fact that I moved, had a baby, and published a book in a 6 month period, but damn I had some trouble adjusting.
I’ve written about being a parent a few times over the last year. Like when I forgot to set up my son’s easter basket. Or when my kid fell off the bed. And my favorite (with over 1,000 comments): 10 things I’ve learned since becoming a parent.
Am I Doing This Right?
It’s ironic that I chose to write about this topic as my first email on Substack because it’s probably the thing I have felt most unqualified to talk about over the last 9 months.
I work with a lot of adults who are working through their relationships with their parents. They’re usually age 25-35 and trying to reconcile their childhoods, their own identity, and their relationship with their adult parents.
This has given me a unique view of what happens to adults who experience certain things as kids. It’s also given me an unprecedented level of anxiety that my kid is going to grow up and dislike me.
I’ve been working on reconciling my own personal fears about not being good enough. And, I’ve been integrating all my clinical knowledge about adult kids and what has impacted them. Here is what I think makes someone a good (enough) parent.
10 Things Good Enough Parents Do
Accept that you’re going to mess up and work hard to do better when you do.
Develop an understanding that each child is different and your child is not you. Try to remember that your child is a human being with wishes, dreams, desires, likes, and interests.
Spend time with people who help you be a better parent.
If you can’t punish an adult that way without getting arrested (i.e. hitting), don’t do it to your kid. It has an impact and it’s not a good one.
Apologize. Apologize. Apologize. Listen to your kids, recognize when you made a mistake. Model humility.
Show up and recognize when you didn’t show up in the way they needed.
Remember your kid wants your time and attention more than anything else.
Take care of yourself. You cannot be a good parent without this.
Try your best to keep your kid safe.
Forgive yourself and drop the crazy expectations. This is hard stuff and shaming yourself isn’t going to help. Trust me, I’ve tried it and so have all my clients.
If I had to give you 1 thing that I think separates the good (enough) parents from parents who struggle to maintain connection with their kids as adults, it’s their ability to admit when they’re wrong and then try again.
When I work with adults who had difficult childhoods, (who want to understand their parents and develop empathy), they almost always develop empathy for their parents throughout the therapy process. It’s not a secret that parents who do harm are usually just passing on what they know. When we understand their story it’s easier to understand them. But, it doesn’t always take away the pain of what happened.
So many adults want to understand their parents and why they made certain choices. They want to make sense of a childhood that maybe didn’t make sense.
It’s never too early or too late to model this behavior for your child. I really think this is what makes all the difference.
I have discovered a few amazing people on social media that I think are embodying what it means to be a Good (Enough) Parent.
If You’re Trying To Be A Good Enough Parent, Remind Yourself:
My child wants me to be their parent.
I am learning, growing, and working towards being a good parent.
I am going to mess up and it’s ok to admit when that happens.
It’s never too late to apologize, start over, or try a different approach.
I don’t have to repeat old patterns.
I can be the type of parent I want to be.
I deserve and need support to be a good enough parent.
Thanks for reading everyone. I hope this helps you become the good enough parent you’re meant to be. If you enjoyed this, please don’t hesitate to share it.