Parenting Tips: The "Good Enough" Case Against Over-Parenting

One of the central themes of my parenting approach is to go for "Good Enough". Forget about perfection in parenting; it's all about pragmatics. Balancing YOUR needs with the needs of your kids. Filtering out the pressure we get from the media to have perfectly sculpted kids from the beginning; babies who have been delivered without the benefit of modern medicine and by following a perfect "Birth Plan", babies who have been breastfed as long as possible and fed the most perfectly organic diet, who have attained all of their developmental milestones early, attended the "best" preschools and "enrichment" programs, and go on to become the most perfect human beings. This "Perfect Parenting Propaganda" has contributed to an enormous amount of pressure on parents, which is, as I have discussed here on BabyShrink, responsible for (at best) unrealistic expectations of ourselves and our kids, and (at worst) postpartum depression and other psychological fallout. I have advocated the "Good Enough" parenting approach with the intention of reassuring parents that there is, in fact, good research to support this approach. Being a Good Enough parent also allows us some room in our schedules and our lives; room to enjoy our kids, partners and families in a more relaxed and spontaneous way. And being "Good Enough" does NOT mean having a half-assed parenting approach. It does NOT mean you don't care about your kids. In fact, it means that you understand that children need SPACE and TIME and OPTIONS in order to maximize their development; they need time to EXPLORE, and yes, even to FAIL. Striving for perfection, one of the driving motivators of the over-parenting tendency, is actually BAD FOR YOUR CHILD'S DEVELOPMENT. It gives them the message that they are not capable of managing their time and experiences. It does not allow them the time or opportunity to learn how to solve problems creatively. And it takes away from their ability to experience the independence that we had as kids (and lived to tell about it).

So it was with great excitement that I read the cover article in last week's Time magazine. Nancy Gibbs puts forth a case against "Over-Parenting", and her article gives lots more details that I can currently muster. (Hey, people, I've got a 6-week-old new baby who has decided that sleep is NOT FOR HER -- or me!) The fact that I've got a few minutes here to expound on this topic should tell you how important I think it is! So here's the link. Enjoy and discuss!


Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

Here are a few of my articles on the "Good Enough" parenting approach:

The Good Enough Mother: Are Breasts Required?

More on the Pros and Cons of Attachment Parenting

and, Will My Baby Ever Sleep Through the Night? (A post I need to re-read!!)