Thursday, May 11, 2017

Good-enough Parents (Michelle)

Although I went down the financial route in my studies, and choice of work, most of my extended family have been involved in the caring professions - teaching, medicine, psychology or the church. I am lucky to have always been surrounded by ears willing to listen, and nets willing to catch. I am a pretty confident guy, but that is because I know what is behind me. At my lowest points (and many of my highest), one of the people who has always been there is my Aunt Michelle. She practices clinical psychology and neurophysiology, and is busy with a doctorate researching insomnia. She recently started a blog on parenting. Many of my friends have 'the crazy eye' at the moment as they deal with being new parents. I asked her if I could share her thoughts here...


Most of us fly by the seat of our pants as parents. We can read, prepare, listen to advice yet our experience is a unique and intriguing one. We may have been surprised, or carefully planned being a parent. Regardless, there are immeasurable sacrifices of self and yet immeasurable rewards.
Sons and daughters bring yet another dimension to our experience of life, and often leave us with a truck load of random feelings that come from a place we didn’t even know existed. Collectively, these feelings cover dimensions such as overwhelmed (particularly at the onset, by responsibility regarding the “foreverness” of the task), stuck, bored, mesmerised, in awe, bemused, delighted, irritated, angry, immeasurably proud, humiliated, ashamed, guilty and downright confused. Guilt, oh the feelings of guilt…
We are never the same when a child comes into our lives. We are more: multiplied, transformed, and metamorphosed.  We need to care for self yet should no longer be self-centred, other-centred, stretched and expanded out of ourselves to see this person growing up under our care. We view the process with fascination and trepidation. Parenting is progressive and has momentum. Time never stands still; it is never enough or is immeasurably slow. We have to take care to not be distracted, dissociative, disconnected, tardy or poor role models. The little person becoming adult (eventually and way sooner than we perceive in the earlier days) watches and learns from everything we do and say, dependent on our ability to parent as responsible adults, not as friend. We need to keep them safe, watch their backs and treat their lives with honour, respect and reciprocity.
We watch their growth and marvel. How is it possible that we created this extraordinary human being, an extension of ourselves yet so unique in itself? We joy in family and social expansion as school starts and watch academic advancement. Extraordinary, frustrating, exciting, annoying. We defend our offspring with every fibre of our being, every instinctual urge and feel offended, affronted, anxious and distressed by outcomes. Yet the accolades and achievements blow us away, make us marvel again and breathe a sigh of relief that we have all survived once again. To strive for perfection in the process is nigh impossible. In the words of Winnicott, we need to be “good-enough parents”.
Dedicated to all the indelible and privileged journeys I have made with my children, and the children of others.

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