Hello blogworld! I’m very excited to join the ranks of the HDYDI bloggers. I want to take a second to introduce myself. My name is Lisa. I am married to Dan, and we have identical twins daughters who are currently 2 years old. I’m a psychologist who works in private practice in Hampton Roads, Virginia. I blog about all things psychological at www.theclinicaltruth.blogspot.com. I play mommy two and a half days a week and answer calls for apple juice and sidewalk chalk. The rest of the week I play Dr. Lisa and am a psychotherapist who does individual, marital and family therapy. I will be writing posts about parenting multiples with the added component of my favorite topic- psychology! I love feedback, so be sure to leave lots of comments- and don’t be shy about suggesting topics that you may want to hear more about!
The GOOD ENOUGH Mother
Parenting is not for sissies. It’s HARD. Like, really hard. I don’t know about you, but when we brought our twins (born at 35 weeks) home from the hospital, I distinctly remember looking at my husband and our two tiny swaddled baby burritos and thinking…um, now what? Do you remember that bewildering moment of the first newborn days?
So as time passed I started to really wonder if I fit the bill for this big job. Was I going to be able to meet their needs simultaneously? Would I know how to decipher their toddler mumblings? What about the awkward years, God forbid I mess this whole thing up and land them in therapy!
So, as I came out of my nursing Prolactin fog I started to remember something I learned back in the good ol days of graduate school that made me feel SO much better….
How do we figure out how to parent our kids? Do we exit the birth canal understanding the ins and outs of discipline and chore charts? No… of course not. We learn to parent by observing other people. Specifically, we learned what to expect in the world based on our experiences with our parents. For some of you readers, this may be good news, for others, maybe not so much. Regardless of whether you had freakin’ fantastic parents or the I’d like to trade you in for a different model parents, you collected data about life and the world around you.
We all want to get on the freakin fantastic parents list, but HOW do we get there?
No one has your exact answer to this question, but here is an idea you may find encouraging:
You are a good enough mother.
There is a psychological concept actually called “The Good Enough Mother.” This was developed from Donald Winnicott, a British physician later turned psychiatrist whose prime was in the days of psychoanalysis (Think Freud, the lie on the couch and tell me all your dreams guy).
Winnicott wrote that the good enough mother adapts and responds to the child’s needs, thus teaching the child that he/she has some sense of control over their caregiver, which eventually builds comfort and trust of the mother.
He also noted that the interactions between parent and child really do matter, because they teach us how to respond and what to expect of the world around us.
It turns out that if you actually are perfect that you might be modeling irrational and impossible behaviors that could confuse kids into thinking that their imperfections make them not good enough, or even unlovable. Oh, Hello, my old friend shame….
In other words, your failure to perfectly meet and adapt to every single need of your child actually builds a realistic expectations in your child’s mind. His or her acceptance of and adaptation to the reality that the world is a harsh place that isn’t always perfect, convenient or fair is REALLY important to successful adulthood. Put even more simply, some amounts of Mom Failure = Good.
A good enough mother meets her child’s needs but BALANCES her response to the child (in age appropriate ways of course!). She does not run herself ragged trying to perform well enough for love and acceptance from her kids or spouse. She makes mistakes, she apologizes. She has emotions, she works hard. She is real. So when the going gets tough and you wonder if you are good enough. Give yourself a break. You are.
Teaching our kids that we are real and not just apron wearing robots is what is really important because after all, we’re not raising kids, we’re actually raising adults.