The quest for best went unquestioned in my day. Why be good if you could be better or even the best?
Good, better, best
Never let it rest
Until your good is better
And your better is best.
It seemed innocent enough but now I wonder if a little rhyme was in truth a bad prescription. A constant quest to be best may lead a person to perfectionism. And perfection is unattainable; those who seek it are unhappy and may experience a perpetual feeling of failure, even when they are operating at a very high level. People who expect to be perfect will always be disappointed and may even feel shame for their very human and very normal limitations. Don’t do this to yourself; don’t do this to your kids either – don’t encourage them to be BEST at everything.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in excellence and striving to do your best but we all have limitations and it’s healthy to acknowledge those limitations, even as parents, or especially as parents. When parents own up to struggles and even failures they model to their kids that it’s OK to have limitations. Indeed, we all have limitations; there is no shame in that.
And while we’re on the subject, let’s look at parenting and the parent quest some take on to do it all. You know what I’m talking about. Parents often feel pressure to do everything right for their kids. Of course we cannot do everything right so it’s a failed quest from the outset. And it’s not good for the kids either. In an article in this month’s Atlantic Magazine there’s an interesting article called, How to Land Your Kid in Therapy. The article talks about parents who do too much to shield kids from adversity; it seems these parents may give their kids a childhood with too much happiness; the kids don’t learn how to handle adversity and failure.
The take-away message for me was to teach resilience and to parent in a manner described as good enough. I love the term, good-enough parenting. Good enough is good; good enough isn’t perfect, doesn’t need to be perfect, and doesn’t strive to be perfect. I like the concept and I think it can teach kids something about being satisfied with life and with what an individual can affect.
Life is hard sometimes. Parenting is hard. Doing a good job is satisfying. Trying to do the very best job possible all the time is a recipe for exhaustion and for feeling dissatisfied.
What do you think – should we parents always go for BEST or is good enough just that, good enough?