While studying infant and caregiver attachment as a counselor I was introduced to the theory of "good enough parenting". The assumption is that if the mother, or primary caregiver, responds to the baby's needs successfully 7 out of 10 times that is adequate in forging a healthy bond. The child will, as a newborn, learn that they are safe. Sometimes, on a bad day, I remember this. It's given me comfort to know that a couple of Mommy blunders are to be expected; they won't do much harm. I don't rest on it, but I've kept it in the back of my head like a "get out of guilt free" card. Today I realized 7 out of 10 really isn't that great. Do the math - 70 percent. It's passing, but surely not acceptable by a Valedictorian's standards. Satisfactory, not great. Responding positively, with empathy, just 7 out 10 times to the needs of your child is like being a good Mom or Dad 5 out of 7 days a week. I find it hard to believe my little ones would thrive if on Sunday and Wednesday Mommy just checked out. Hump Day is hard, but really? Would your employer keep paying you if a little more than two/thirds of the the time you didn't perform to the best of your ability?
I've heard that parenting is a job that only gets more complicated as your child grows. We want our toddlers to learn respect and responsibility early on so they develop good habits that continue into adolescence and adulthood. As parents we must hold ourselves accountable in pursuing the same excellence we expect from our children. Take the time to think before speaking to your child; don't react without considering the consequences. Don't dial it in. When you make mistakes say you're sorry. We're not perfect, but our kids don't know that. Find teachable moments for them and yourself. Be better than good enough.
*** Updated May 10, 2012
Does anyone see the irony in controversy swimming around a cover that is supposed to be controversial? I don't get it. I hope that half as many of the people talking about this online will actually pick up the article and read it, myself included. We'll see Friday May 11, 2012 when the issue is released.