Today Time Magazine released the cover photo for an upcoming story about Dr. Bill Sears and the extreme side of attachment parenting. They pose the question, "Are You Mom Enough?", right next to a Mom posing breast partially exposed, while she nurses a boy 3 years old. All this just a few days before Mother's Day. Of course the photo went viral and has quite a few folks all in a tizzy. 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. I trust TIME to deliver a journalistic piece that is just as provoking as the photograph. We'll see Friday May 11, 2012 when the issue is released. In the meantime read a post I wrote April 19, 2012...
... Before bed, when I'm in the shower allowing my thought to drifts I review my day. If I've poorly handled an interaction with one of my kids I mull it over regretfully. Parenting has scores of challenges; it's only fair to assume that we won't attend to every exchange suitably. We don't always have the perfect response to inquisitive questions. We don't always lend an ear or a shoulder at the right moment. Maybe we gave a lecture when a hug was what they really needed. Our hope is that if we manage to get it right more times than not than our children will feel loved, become wise, kind and functional.
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.