Good Enough Parenting

If you fail him, it must feel to him as if the wild beasts will

   gobble him up.

                                                                                        Donald Winnicott


What heating did you have in your house when you were growing up?

What memories does thinking about that bring back to you?

Donald Winnicott was a Child Psychologist who was troubled by the number of parents coming to him, worried that they were somehow letting their children down.  They believed that they weren’t perfect enough.  He developed the idea that children didn’t need perfect parents (as if that were even possible), but that children learnt and grew from realising that their parents weren’t perfect and that they themselves had to develop resilience and strength within themselves.  He wasn’t suggesting simply leaving your children to their own devices, as a laissez-faire or jellyfish parent does, but one who understands, that by allowing children space to make their own decisions and mistakes,  they will grow up to trust their instincts and have agency over their emotions.

Winnicott believed and taught the following about child raising:

Remember that your child is very vulnerable

Let the child be angry

Make sure your child isn’t too compliant

Let your child be

Realise the gravity of your work

A story comes to mind, I am about eight or nine, I have burst into tears for some now forgotten reason and run to my bedroom.  I hide under the bed, feeling confident someone would come to comfort me soon.  Slowly, I realise, I can’t keep up the crying and that no-one is coming.  But I have learned a powerful lesson; I can be upset, I can calm myself and regulate my own emotions.  More importantly, I am loveable, even though no one who loved me came to tell me so.

Further viewing:

Alain de Botton; Psychology,  Donald Winnicott

Unconditional Love

‘Love is the absence of judgment.’

                                                                                             Dalai Lama


Rose Quartz – stone of unconditional love

Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being.  It’s not ‘I love you for this or that reason, not ‘I love you if you love me.’  It’s love for no reason, love without an object.

                                                                                              Ram Dass


Questions to consider,

Was I always on my best behaviour as a child?  Why/why not?

What is my earliest memory of being loved?

Discuss with your partner or a friend


My friend tells the story of driving her husbands bigger car to take her friends out.  After the event they had driven off and her friend asks, ‘Is this your car, Joyce?’  They all suddenly realise that the car they are in may be the same colour and make but is certainly not the same model as her husbands station wagon!  They have stolen a car!  Well, they are certainly in the wrong vehicle, having not paid enough attention to the sticky key or the empty petrol tank sign as they had driven off.  A quick U-turn, return to the parking spot they see Joyce’s husbands car two parking spaces away, waiting for them where they left it.  How could they not have seen it?  With relief that no harm has been done, they park and spring into the station wagon, laughing and vowing to be more present and conscious, next time.

Loving our children causes us to confront how much we love ourselves.  If we wish to parent well, we will have to examine our own traits and behaviours and seek ways to avoid or change in order to be the parent our children need.  Our children are apt to trigger our own internal unsorted conflicts and it is our responsibility to provide a stable emotional climate for our children and remain calm and relaxed, accepting our children as they are.

Practice daily telling yourself or meditating on the phase, ‘I am loved, I am enough’, because it will help strengthen your resolve to parent well, as a misbehaving or upset child, is simply seeking unconditional love.


Further reading/listening;

Parenting, 10 Basics of Conscious Childraising.  Karuna Fedorschak

Why you will marry the wrong person, Alain de Botton