Why the “Good Enough” Mother is the Best Mother

by | Mar 19, 2018 | Resilience When Life is Challenging | 0 comments

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
~ John Steinbeck ~

I’ve been sick for two weeks and the kids were home for spring break for one of them.

I haven’t gotten much done. I haven’t written anything blog-worthy, haven’t been active on social media, haven’t exercised, haven’t done many chores around the house. What energy I have had I’ve used doing the basics and spending time with the kids.

The high-achieving perfectionist in me is hating this. She wants to make the most of every moment the kids are here: go for walks, make nice meals together, watch movies after dinner and have long chats over cups of tea. And when the kids are occupied she wants to write sparkling, helpful articles for parents and post them regularly – at least every week. With captivating images. And share-worthy quotes.


Imagining that you also suffer from moments when you feel like you aren’t getting everything done, I thought I’d share something soothing that my father (a still-practicing psychiatrist at age 80) shared with me: “The best mother is the good-enough mother.”

Not the perfect mother.

The “good enough mother,” according to British pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, fails sometimes when the consequences are tolerable. She’s there when she’s truly needed, but also allows her children to learn in small, safe ways that life will go on and they will be okay even when:

  • Things don’t go as planned
  • They feel frustrated or disappointed
  • They fail at something
  • Other people’s needs come first
  • Life feels hard

Essentially, the good-enough mother (or any parent) teaches resilience. As Carla Naumberg, PhD, says, “Each time we let our children down, and they get through it, they get just a little bit stronger. That is the gift of the good enough mother, and it’s time we all embrace it.”

I just asked my daughter, who goes back to school later today, whether her week at home was good enough. “Oh yeah,” she said.

Good enough for me.


p.s. Do you struggle to be just “good enough?” Does this help? Please share your thoughts below!

Do you need kind, compassionate support to bounce back from a negative experience? If so, then get in touch with me now, and let’s make the most of your precious time, energy and love. 


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Kristen Carter

Kristen Carter, Certified coach, author, and breast cancer survivor. More

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