Parenting During The Pandemic: 2020 is the Year of “Good Enough”
By Dr. Amanda Zelechoski, co-founder of Pandemic Parenting
December is always an emotional month for me. Two of my kids were born in December so, around this time each year, I find myself reflecting back on those intense first moments together. Amidst the backdrop of the holiday decorations in the hospital, I remember gazing into my firstborn’s eyes and asking him, “Will I be good enough?” Even though he was only a few hours old, the waves of mom guilt seemed to instantly wash over me like a tsunami. Welcome to motherhood.
2020: The Year of Being Good Enough
Fast forward to 2020 and here we are trying to navigate a version of parenting we never could have imagined – “relentless parenting” as my Pandemic Parenting co-founder, Dr. Lindsay Malloy, refers to it. We’ve been at this for almost nine months at this point and many of us are worried about the long-term effects of the pandemic version of our lives on our children’s well-being.
What if I’ve made the wrong decisions along the way? How will my kids look back on this time? What should I have done differently to mitigate the impact on my family? Oh yeah, and it’s the holidays, so I need to make sure everything is over-the-top perfect to make up for all the things we can’t do. Cue the mom guilt and pressure times ten.
I want to let you in on a lesser-known tidbit in child and family psychology — there is no such thing as a perfect parent. In fact, there has been a lot of research and writing on the notion of “good enough” parenting and how there actually isn’t much difference between being a “good” parent and being a “super” parent in terms of children’s long-term outcomes.
So, what does good enough parenting look like, especially right now in the midst of a global pandemic? Children need to feel safe, nurtured, loved, and to have their physical and emotional needs met. That doesn’t require perfection; it requires flexibility, adaptability, and striving to be the right parent for this child at this moment in time.
In fact, it is often in our imperfections and mistakes that our children learn about resilience. They watch our struggles and then they see us get up and try again the next day. When we beat ourselves up for yelling that day, not being as patient as we should have been, or relying too much on screens to get us all through the day, we need to give ourselves permission slips to screw up and hall passes for a do-over tomorrow. Sometimes, the connection and repair after a really rough day allows for growth in our relationship with our child. We get to wake up tomorrow and start over.
As we near the close of this seemingly never-ending year of relentless parenting, I invite you – implore you – to pause and reflect on what you’ve endured and survived. Against all odds, you’ve steered your family through lockdowns, quarantines, possible loss of a loved one, nonstop decision-making, remote and hybrid learning, loss of childcare, working from home or job loss, decreased social connections and support, financial hardships, constant emotional fluctuation of every member of your family…the list goes on and on. And yet, here you are.
In the words of the brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton’s “That Would Be Enough”
Look at where you are
Look at where you started
The fact that you’re alive is a miracle
Just stay alive, that would be enough
As you near the end of 2020 and reflect back on what parenting in a pandemic has looked like for you, I hope you will look deep into your child’s beautiful eyes and say to yourself, “I am enough.”