‘Good enough parenting’ is the name child welfare organisations give to parenting which may not be ‘ideal’ (what us middle class well-off people do) but isn’t quite ‘abusive’ (what those ‘disadvantaged’ parents who end up in the Sunday Times Horror Section do). And yes, it does strike me as I look around the table at my fellow Barnardos volunteers (see previous post) that we’re all educated and middle class, whereas those to be ‘helped’ are probably all welfare class and poverty stricken. There is a certain Lady Muck flavour about it, no denying.
At least, I hope it’s good enough. I have a morbid fear of being the subject of a session with a shrink.
‘And so, how WAS your relationship with your mother?”, “Oh my god, where do I start…!”.
Actually for that reason I’ve asked Mr F and Ms M more than once what they think Good Parenting consists of, and if they DO end up going to a psych, what will they say? But he and Ms M are both remarkably phlegmatic.
Mr F: I dunno really. I don’t HAVE any issues, mum…
Me: But what about that time we left you strapped in the car in the driveway for 5 minutes asleep and you woke up and screamed and no one came, and you said it felt like hours? Weren’t you scarred?
Mr F: Oh yeah, sure, but I’ve forgotten about it now. Guess it probably wasn’t as long as it seemed at the time.
Me to Ms M: So if you were writing the Rules of Good Parenting, what would they be?
Ms M: Mm, Don’t be too strict? Make sure the kid knows about the importance of education?
Me: (guiltily, as I’ve never really lectured much on this or probably any other subject) So, do you think I should be stricter about homework?
Ms M: Oh no. That’s the kind of thing that turns ordinary teenagers into serial killers, you know.
Me: So, do you think I’ve been a good mother?’
Ms M: Well I’m not a criminal, am I. On the other hand, maybe that’s just me. Maybe if you’d had a different kid, she WOULD have been one.
People (including me) always say ‘I’m doing my BEST’ but the fact is, I’m doing MY Best. Which is a long way from THE Best. I know what THE Best is, and it involves regular homework hassling, ruthless consistency, confiscation of electronic media, forced marches in the countryside, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
MY best, on the other hand, involves lots of love, conversation, laughing together, a willingness to discuss absolutely anything as long as it doesn’t involve moving away from the heater, and a sort of ‘oh well, I guess it’ll work out alright in the end’ sort of optimism. I’m not saying that’s good. MAYBE it’s good enough. I don’t know.
My mum’s ‘best’ involved lots of warmth, very little supervision, no parental playing (she had me at 44), and plenty of moral guidance, most of which I subsequently ignored. It certainly wasn’t ‘try-hard’ parenting, but it was definitely…good enough.
For seriously GOOD parenting, click here –
A Girlgonechild. It’s about being an adoring mother and a working mother at the same time. Speaking personally, it can be a challenge.
Thefirstwire. Saying a lot of good things about the importance of role modelling and other things. There are of course lots of great roles you COULD model, not all of them involving vegetables.
Wisiedailywisdom. Some simple but sensible ideas about raising decent citizens (who DON’T vote Liberal, you listening, Mr F???)
Positively mummy. Who suggests, quite rightly, that maybe we shouldn’t complain a lot about our kids. I totally agree (although maybe I should cut back on the boasting a bit too)
Okonomy – what the hell DID we do before Facebook? Oh yeah, truant! (and I did, too).
Lexa’s Journal. Lexa gets her kids to write essays on what they did wrong. Anyone who’s ever heard a kid say ‘I’m sorry’ in a tone about as convincing as Rush Limbaugh might think this is a bloody good idea!
So what IS good enough?