Every mother has struggled with the question of whether she is doing a good enough job. It’s only natural to worry about our children, and whenever one of them does something wrong, we ask ourselves if we did anything to cause the behavior. However, it’s important to remember that God gave you your children for a reason. He obviously thought you could do the job perfectly. So how do you conquer these inner uncertainties and become a mother who knows she is not only good enough, but great?
1. Release the inner critic. No mother should ever compare herself to any other parent. Just like children, no two mothers are alike, and each parenting style has its own place. God knew exactly what kind of parenting your child would need, and he matched each child to the right parents. We are always our own worst critic, and it is far too easy to compare ourselves to Susie Homemaker or Cathy Corporate. However, you can bet that Susie and Cathy are probably comparing themselves to you and also asking why they can’t be more like you.
2. Your best is good enough. We all strive to do our best, but the problem begins when we feel like our best isn’t good enough. No matter what we do, we might feel that our efforts come up short, but just think for a minute about how your son or daughter sees it, especially while they’re young. Do you think they will see that mom never had the money to buy them the Halloween costume they wanted? No, instead they will remember the fun times they had helping you make their costumes, even if those costumes never turned out exactly right.
3. Take better care of yourself so that your best is possible. Self-care is an important part of being a mother. A mom who doesn’t take care of herself is unable to take care of her children. For example, a mom who is extremely sick and doesn’t take the time to go to the doctor may become weaker and weaker until she can’t even get up to get her child food. On the other hand, if she went to the doctor and got some antibiotics, the illness would not have been so bad and it would all have been over in a couple of days. The same is true of healthy mothers. A mother who never takes time out for herself will feel stressed and unloved. When she feels stressed and unloved, she is unable to love others, especially her children.
4. Less is more. Children, especially when they are young, enjoy the simple things in life. Kids may not remember the elaborate lengths you went through to throw them the perfect birthday party. They won’t remember the big pile of presents, but they will remember that one small special gift you bought. A child’s focus is scattered onto so many things all at once, but these small moments you create will shine a bright light in your child’s memories.
5. Communication is the key. Regardless of how much your child does or doesn’t talk to you, communication is about much more than the number of words that come out of your child’s mouth. It’s about being actively involved in their interests. Spend some time listening to your son’s music or sit and play video games with him sometimes. Just realize that knowing what interests your child has will give you an insight into him that you never would be able to have otherwise, even if you try to spark a conversation with him. Establish this type of communication early so that by the time your daughter is a teenager, it doesn’t seem strange that mom is checking out her music or asking to meet her friends.
6. Date your kids individually. Every child needs to feel important, and one of the best ways to make your children important is to spend time with each of them individually. Sure, family time is important, but make sure that you have some time set aside for each child, and use this time to communicate and learn about their interests.
7. Change what you believe. Sometimes being a mother is about stretching our beliefs. We are all raised with a very specific set of believes that create the foundation of who we are, but sometimes the world changes and things are thrown off-kilter. Every mother has images of her perfect child, tall or short, lanky or muscled, athletic or smart. But what happens when your child doesn’t fit your expectations? You have to be able to change what you believed about your child so that you don’t end up forcing him to be what he isn’t.
8. Do less well. Often we feel like we have to be Super Mom, wear boots and a cape, and fly around to do everything. We think we have to have the house perfectly clean at all times, help our kids with their homework, research and deliver a presentation that wows our client over the dinner hour, and still have a hot, homemade meal on the dinner table at home. Of course in reality it’s pretty hard to do all of this at the same time, so just choose one thing you can focus on and do it very well. Maybe you’re not a very good cook, but you have a knack for research and presentations. Just focus on your work presentation and help your kids do homework afterward over a late dinner from the local takeout.
9. Make sure the discipline matches the crime. There are all kinds of schools of thought about discipline, but the most important thing to do when disciplining is to make sure that the punishment fits the crime. If the child is a little older, ask her what she thinks the punishment should be. If the child is too young to understand this, make sure that the punishment is directly related to what she did.
10. Allow your kids to fail. No parent should ever run around behind their child fixing all of their mistakes. Of course it’s important to be there if your child makes a big mistake and to make sure he knows that he can turn to you. But sometimes it is necessary to let him fail. If his girlfriend breaks up with him because he spent too much time playing video games and not enough time with her, let him figure out on his own what he did wrong. It’s ok to clue him in, but don’t fix it for him. He will never learn how to live life and fix problems himself if mom is always there to make corrections.
Remember, being a good enough mom isn’t a matter of perspective. It’s a fact that you are already good enough. You only have to believe.