“I am not OK with being with a good enough mother. I work too hard to settle for that.”

One of my closest friends (and one of the most devoted mothers I know) said those words to me a couple of years ago, and I’ve never forgotten them. On a personal level, I was heartbroken to realize that my friend was putting that much pressure on herself. On a professional level, I was saddened to see that once again one of my favorite theories of parenting and child development had been totally misunderstood.

Usually when I hear the phrase “good enough mother*,” it’s either by mothers like my friend, who see “good enough” as “not enough,” or by mothers who are using it as an explanation for why they aren’t the perfect mother. It’s become about whether or not we cook a multicourse meal every night or bring a holiday craft project and snack in for the entire preschool class. The good enough mother is now a failure to be avoided at all costs, or an explanation for why we haven’t been able to do better.

Unfortunately, for both our children and ourselves, both of these explanations totally miss the point…

You can read the rest of this post over on my Mindful Parenting blog on PsychCentral.com.