Being a “Good Enough” Parent

Psychologist Zeynep Bengisu Çetin, December 17, 2021

All parents want and strive for the best for their children. A good parent Although parenthood is of great importance for child development, sometimes the effort of being a "good" parent can become tiring and worrying. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the more we seek happiness, the more we move away from it, and the more we try to be a good parent, the more we get away from it. Maybe just being a “good enough” parent is enough.

One of the most basic points of being a good parent is about the well-being of the parents themselves. It will be harder to help others unless we are good ourselves. There are many different studies on the reflection of the caregiver's mood on the child in the relationship between the child and the caregiver (Newland, 2015). Parents who neglect to meet their own needs in an effort to be good parents may be doing more harm to the child by projecting their negative moods onto the children. Therefore, in this blog post, we will talk about the importance of parents' well-being for both their child and themselves.

The Good Enough Parent's Need for Rest

When we neglect our own needs with the intention of being good parents, we may not be sufficiently engaged in activities with the child. In case of mental and physical fatigue, it will be very difficult to deal with the child. From “Which nutritious foods should I feed my child?” to “What games should I play with her?”, we may not be able to focus on the child as many questions cross our minds. Or we can quickly run out of energy trying to take care of the child in the midst of all these mental, exhausting thoughts. In short, we can say that because of mental fatigue, it is difficult to stay in the moment while spending time with the child, to be “here and now”.

Maybe we are playing a game at that moment, but are we really there? Can we really give ourselves to the game? While your child is trying to tell you something, you may not even be able to listen to what he is saying from time to time due to being tired and running to keep up with him. The negative side of this is that your child feels that you do not listen to him and that you cannot give yourself to the game and activities. Children are in the discovery phase, especially in the first 3 years of age. They watch everything carefully and try to perceive it. So they will know if you are really interested in them or not. In a nutshell, resting the mind and body is essential for you to engage with excitement, curiosity, and enthusiasm in the activities you do with your child.

A Good Enough Parent's Emotional Needs

One of the mistakes most parents make in order to be good parents is to ignore their own emotional needs. There may be moments when the parent is not feeling well, either. One of the biggest mistakes made in such situations is that the parents try to take care of the child by ignoring their feelings. Forgetting ourselves, just thinking that the child needs attention, may be preventing our child from acquiring a very valuable skill. At such moments, if you can reflect your emotions in the right way, your child's “Emotional awareness and ability to reflect emotions” will develop. Every time we suppress our emotions so as not to offend the child, we may be unintentionally teaching the child “you should suppress emotions”.

How can I express my feelings to my child?

1) “I'm not feeling very well today. So I need some rest. We can construct the ” sentence. If the child asks why we feel bad, if it is something we cannot explain clearly, it is useful to say it, albeit implicitly. “I had a fight with a friend and it upset me.” It is useful to make similar short explanations.

2) It is very important to express the emotion directly. “I feel sad.”, “I feel angry.” is difficult for most of us. Anger, sadness, etc. Since feelings are feelings that we are not very comfortable with, we are not used to expressing them. However, in order for children to understand us and to reflect their own feelings without suppressing them, expressing our feelings directly will be beneficial both for our own well-being and for improving the child's emotional awareness skills.

3) We can prepare a mood board. Our 6 basic emotions are “happiness”, “sadness”, “anger”, “fear”, “amazement”emotion” You can place the emotion you felt that day in the section under your name on a board by drawing the expressions on separate papers. You can make it a routine for everyone to reflect their feelings through the board on a daily basis by making a board with a picture of all family members.

Good Enough Parent Responsibility Sharing

It is important to share responsibilities between caregivers so that the parent who needs rest can show the necessary care, love and compassion to the child. In cases where a single parent has to take care of the child, the parent is more disruptive of their own needs. The more we disrupt our own needs, the harder it will be to deal with our emotions such as sadness and anger. In such a case, we will be more likely to be harsher and more hurtful to our child unintentionally. In short, passing rest breaks between parents/caregivers are essential for both the child's and our own well-being.

Sources

Newland, LA (2015). Family well-being, parenting, and child well-being: Pathways to healthy adjustment. Clinical Psychologist, 19, 3–14. doi:10.1111/cp.12059

Zeynep Bengisu Çetin