In our society, there’s a large emphasis on being the “best” in everything—whether that’s parenting a teen or being the top dog at work. This often leads to an obsession over becoming the “best,” leading to someone not actually reaching their full potential in that area. In a recent Psychology Today article, Don Greif, Ph.D., wrote about the struggles behind parenting a teen and the obsession with being the “best” parent. Sometimes becoming the “best” requires obsession, but parenting a teen, Greif says, isn’t one of those situations.
The ‘Good Enough’ Technique
Greif introduces an idea first proposed by Donald Winnicott, a British pediatrician and psychoanalyst. It’s the concept of the “good enough mother.” Winnicott urged that mothers and fathers should–instead of obsessing or worrying about being perfect–trust their own judgment and instincts on how to parent a child.
When parents strive for perfection in their teens, the teach teens that they have to be the “best” in unrealistic ways. Greif points out that the “best” often isn’t necessarily the “best” for a child’s specific needs. When parents strive to have their child attend the “best” school, parents often choose schools that are about status or external looks instead of actual substance.
The Grey Areas
Parenting a teen or child is never black and white. There are grey areas and multiple compromises that are made throughout parenting. Due to this, what is often considered the “best” school, “best” extracurricular activity, or “best” whatever is rarely the actual “best” option for your child.
Your teen may excel in math and science, but the school considered the “best” doesn’t have a great curriculum in that area—is it still the “best” for your child? Parenting a teen is relative to your own individual child’s needs and talents. Trusting your ability to parent your teen and knowing when to seek further guidance is what makes a good parent—not putting your child in the “best” school.