As a high school administrator, I spend my days surrounded by students. At night, I come home to my kids. If working with young people was not my passion, I probably would have switched career paths decades ago. While I’m grateful for the energy that’s produced in such a high energy world, at times I worry that I’m spread too thin. Am I giving all of the children in my life adequate attention?
Parenting is a job without a raise or a vacation. If you allow it, the position will consume your thoughts and linger in the back of your mind. This can be dangerous. Don’t get me wrong, parenting is a job that should be taken seriously. It’s also a job that permits flexibility, trial and error, and even inconsistency.
We’ve all experienced times in our parenting lives where we have less time, energy, even love, to give to our children. In these moments, we’re faced with a choice. We can allow the experience to remain fixed in our minds: I’m not doing a good job. This fixed philosophy is a difficult burden to release. If we’re constantly fearful that what we’re giving is inadequate, we’ll never fully feel accomplished. Worse, we’ll be discouraged to find ways to change. Alternatively, we can adopt a positive growth mindset. This mode of thinking emphasizes growth. While you may be struggling in one area, you’re succeeding in other ways. For example, consider the mother who may feel guilty for driving her kids to school each day because she leaves early for work. While she may feel like this is a disservice to her children; her professional responsibilities provide critical resources for the entire family. While the positive growth mindset may seem challenging to adopt, it’s foundation is built on a hefty amount of self-reflection.
Self-reflection is a powerful tool to help anyone learn and grow from their past experiences. As good (enough) parents, we continuously reflect on our children. We keep a running tally of physical ailments, emotional outbursts, subjects they might find challenging in school. These lists may seem disparate, however, the self-reflective parent naturally weaves these areas together in his/her mind. They look for direct correlations. Could a food allergy be causing both a physical ailment and an emotional outburst?
Enter the Good Enough mindset. What does that mean? To start, it suggests that you’ve already spent quite a lot of time reflecting on the status of your job. This observation should not be dismissed lightly.
A hallmark of a good (enough) parent points to if and how often we notice our children. Positive attention is a luxury. Don’t allow yourself to forget that.
Further, while we may not be able to solve all of our children’s problems today or even in the next decade, we are able to give them what we can, each and every day. Maybe you’re not able to cook dinner every night but you do carve out time for the bedtime rituals. Cling to these traditions and be present in the moment.
It’s time we release our anxieties. Instead, let’s celebrate all we are doing and strive to enjoy each moment we share with our families. Practicing a positive growth mindset can be challenging. But it’s yet another tool we’ll model for our children. It’s yet another way we guide them, love them, and provide them with what we can.