Can Less-Than-Perfect Really Be Enough?
April 3rd 2017
Usually the need to be perfect comes from a bit of anxiety. Worried that something might go wrong, a person tries to figure out the situation and apply the best approach so the chance of success is higher. If you can figure it out and it works, there is relief and satisfaction. Job well done! But then the next situation starts and you have to get back at it. And life gets more complex and there are multiple situations at the same time. You don’t always get it right and that is embarrassing so you have to try harder and harder. It gets exhausting.
People may start to notice is how hard you are working but something about it isn’t quite working. The desire to make everything right is there, but the outcome of everything being all right isn’t there.
It can be so confusing.
Being “good enough” doesn’t actually sound good enough on the surface. When you are used to overachieving, it no longer feels like over-achieving. It just feels like the normal amount of effort required.
In parenting, we worry that if we are only good enough parents, our children won’t have the same opportunities or success that other children seem to have. Our children deserve the best so we must be the best. Except….
Good enough parenting is actually what our children need from us. This is backed up by research (“Raising A Secure Child” is a book dedicated to explaining this). Good enough parenting is when we can hold on to two things: first, that we are willing to hold onto our children’s best interests and second, that we will mess it up… probably pretty often.
There is nothing clean about raising children. It will get messy in more than one way. Being good enough takes the pressure and anxiety out of the equation. When we know that we will mess it up, we aren’t trying to anticipate the situation for the “exact right way”. We are just in the situation, present to it and to our children. If it starts to get off track, we will notice it sooner and pause to see where it got off track. We may have to take charge and make a decision. We may have to apologize for not getting it and ask for clarification. We may have to figure it out together and come up with a compromise.
No matter how the situation gets resolved, being good enough will feel better for both you and the other person. Being a good enough parent will teach your child that you love them, want the best for them and are willing to get messy while you figure it out. It will teach your child that there are many ways to work something out and that you are in it together with them. You will come from a place of comfortable figuring-it-out-together instead of a place of uncomfortable have-to-figure-it-all-out-perfectly-now.
Back to Articles