Parents, Let Your Kids be Good Enough
Adults of all ages and backgrounds come to me for help, and there’s a common thread that runs through each story.
Some people are held back by it with symptoms of fear, procrastination, self sabotage, outright self destructive behavior, anxiety, feeling unfulfilled, and constant searching.
In others it manifests as hostility, anger, aggression, a willingness to win at any cost or work to exhaustion, and a torch the ground as they go attitude.
They might turn to drugs or alcohol to suppress the feelings or to add to them.
There’s probably a dozen other symptoms I could add to that list, but you get the point.
Boil it down, at the end of the day, no one feels they’re good enough.
Here’s a good time to mention, if you think you’re the opposite, that you’re somehow better than most other people, you suffer from the same condition, you just haven’t admitted it yet.
Not very many people feel good enough for healthy reasons.
I’m not talking about feeling good enough because you manage to keep up with the Joneses and paint a pretty picture.
I’m talking about feeling good enough simply because you’re worthy as a human.
And that’s no easy task because we face a barrage of messages every day about how much better we can or should be.
Kids bear the worst of it.
Kids are much less equipped to resist or reject the constant negative feedback.
Why didn’t you get an A?
You should have stood up for yourself.
How did you miss that ball?
Be more polite.
You’re eating too much.
You’re not eating enough.
If you’d just focus, you’d get it.
Don’t paint the sky pink, it’s blue.
No college will let you in with those grades.
Too short, too tall, to skinny, too fat, too noisy, too quiet…
They’re kids, there’s going to be a lot they’re not very good at yet. It’s perfectly normal and healthy for kids to mess up a lot.
Parents need to let their kids be good enough.
That doesn’t mean accepting bad behavior, or settling for a Master’s degree in being a couch potato.
It means exploring and examining your own expectations.
Are you pushing them for their benefit or for yours? Are you trying to force them to be what you believe is the ideal? Or to fulfill something you wish you’d done as a kid?
Are your expectations appropriate for the stage of development of their neurological, physiological, emotional, and intellectual systems?
Are you trying to live up to an impossible perception of perfection?
Guidance and encouragement are needed, and at the same time, it’s absolutely critical that parents let their kids know they’re good enough, and that they’re loved for who they are.
Parents have the biggest ability to put an end to “not good enough” thinking.
Your kids are still going to get the message they’re not good enough from teachers, peers, media, and other authority figures, but as a parent you can do a lot to counteract the message.
You’ll have to at times correct them, but at the same time, be sure to remind them (and yourself) of all the things they’re doing well right now.
Keep performance and worth separate. Your child is loved and good enough because of their worth as a human, not because of awards and placement.
Give your kids the life long gift of knowing they’re good enough. Let them know they’re going to sometimes fall, and that’s ok.
It’ll mean fewer clients for me, and I’m ok with that.