The child-care guru D.W. Winnicott wrote about “the ordinary devoted mother.” He coined the term “the good enough Mother.”
A good enough Mom nourishes the connections she feels between herself and her child and she takes care, not only of her children, but also of herself.
Science is aware of how the connections between us as human beings affect us at a cellular level. Nowhere is this connection more powerful than that between mother and child.
For instance, science tells mom not to be tense around baby or baby will feel the tenseness and become an uptight baby. This is enough to make a new mom tense if she interprets the information to mean that she has to always be relaxed when she is with baby. But, it can be helpful information if mom interprets it to mean that she has to take care of herself and focus on her needs in order to enjoy and to nurture baby. Yes, a tense Mom makes for a tense baby but baby cannot make Mom tense. Mom makes herself tense by the pressures she puts on herself and by not taking proper care of her own mind-body needs.
Of course mothering is exceedingly important for the well being of the child. But, Mom let’s go back to Winnicott’s time and remember that being good enough is good enough! After all, you are not a perfect person and so no task you undertake will be done perfectly. Rule number one for parenting must be to take pressure off of Mom! I don’t think this happens often enough. Actually I think many mothers are experiencing parenting as a pressure cooker.
Go to any gathering of young women and you will find them chatting about their kids and their parenting styles. There is, I think, an underlying feeling of anxiety and competiveness in the conversation. Who does more for their child? Who does it better? I wish they’d talk about politics—–even in today’s partisan world there might be less anxiety!
Is how the kids turn out mom’s report card on herself? Wow! If so that is a lot of pressure on both mother and child. Kids often believe that their grades, their popularity, their success in sports or the arts is how you evaluate yourself. Once they know that they begin to act for Mom instead of taking pleasure in their own successes. This, in the long run creates an internal feeling of emptiness and it diminishes a desire to achieve.
Children need nurturing Moms who are happy within themselves and don’t lean on their kids for their self esteem.
How can you be a good enough mother?
There is not a recipe for rearing perfect children. But if there were, the first line would read, “Remove parental pressure and anxiety.”
Children are amazing creatures. They see the world with fresh eyes, alert awareness and an open heart. They need respect for their way of being, love, kindness and firm but loving boundaries. They will grow up to reach their full potential if they receive positive messages.
We reinforce what we talk about. If a child is sloppy, note the times they pick up their clothes. “I notice you were very tidy when you made your bed today” is a powerful message for change. “Why are you always so sloppy” is a powerful message for status quo. Telling a child that she is happy, healthy, and smart will go a long way to helping her to turn out that way.
Love the children but love yourself first and in this way insure that you do a good job for everyone: child and mother!
Healing Depression the Mind-Body Way is about the creation of health and its by-product, happiness. The healthy and happy person is grounded and operates from a well of stability and flexibility. The maintenance of health and happiness through Ayurveda and meditation is the best insurance for the creation of competent, happy children. Sandra and I suggest that you put on your oxygen mask first and that you focus on enjoying the small creatures God has placed in your care. Enjoyment, love, positivity are the antidotes for pressure and guilt!
As always, we wish you perfect health and happiness.