Friday, February 18, 2011

More On The Blessing of a Skinned Knee

Donald Winnicott, the British pediatrician and psychoanalyst, often wrote about "good enough mothering" and the "ordinary devoted mother." He says that "inherited potential will be realized" when "the environmental provision is adequate." Adequate, not exceptional. You can do your part. You can't control the outcome. In our competitive world, it's often easy to forget this and to blame ourselves, our child's teacher, or other outside influences if our child is not achieving at an extraordinary level or doesn't seem terrifically happy.

Dr Winnicott is reminding us that in order to flourish, children don't need the best of everything. Instead they simply need what is good enough....Consider that "good enough" can often be best for your child, because when life is mostly ordinary and just occasionally extraordinary, your child won't end up with expectations of herself and those around her that can't be met on this worldly plane.

Well thank goodness. Because there's a fair amount of "good enough" going on around here while waiting for #4 to arrive. Cereal from the box. Ben Ten in excess. Looooong time outs while I figure out WTF am I gonna say to a kid who is discovered running around on the roof of our shed? Praying for God to intervene during fights so I don't have to get up and go intervene...

The chapter I just read wasn't as fantastically mind blowing as previous ones. She's pretty adamant about 'privacy,' including keeping kids out of your bedroom unless they knock and ask politely, and NEVER at night. Well, c'mon now. Cosleepers can have boundaries, too! This is a common criticism that I just don't get. We need boundaries, but don't those boundaries need to fit the family we're talking about? No bed sharing might be a sanity keeping boundary for one set of parents, and unacceptable nighttime abandonment for others. Or simply flat out survival tactic. Because sleep trumps all, right Caryn? I like the idea of boundaries but I think she should be more flexible as to what those are. Different strokes, y'know.


Tonya said...

My kids spend lots of time on the shed - and jump off of it. I just don't watch. :-)

Caryn Ouwehand said...

Right. Sleep trumps all.

lori said...

I can appreciate the notion of not trying to be The Best, and not pushing your children to be The Best. Seems like a lot of good, plain, healthy life could get swept right under the rug that way.

But yeah, I don't get it when people say these things with such confidence (like a total off-limits parental bedroom), when that isn't how most of humanity has operated for most of time. I mean, the idea of everybody having their own bedroom would be considered ludicrous to many entire people groups, aside from individual families within our own culture.

Still, though, sounds like an interesting read.