Who is the “Good Enough Mom” and What are the Benefits Behind the Theory

It’s no secret that we ALL want to be the best mothers we can be for our children.

And it’s no surprise why! Aside from simply loving our babies and wanting to do everything in our power to give them the best lives possible, this desire to be the “perfect mom” is CONSTANTLY reinforced by both subliminal and not-so-subtle societal standards. 

From “Best Mom EVER” cards, tees, and coffee mugs, to outdated parenting books lamenting about how perfection is just one tip, trick, or technique away; it can often feel as though being the “perfect mom” IS attainable and WE’RE at fault for not trying harder. 

But what if our kids don’t need a perfect mom? What if kids actually benefit the most from an upbringing that is, well, good enough? 

The concept of the “good enough mother” is not new or novel- it actually dates back to 1971, when it was first coined by British pediatrician and psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott in his famous book Playing and Reality.

The concept of this book outlines the evolution of a mother, her parenting style, and how she responds to her children’s cues over time. For instance, when her child is a newborn, the “good enough mother” is quick to abandon her own necessities to accommodate her infant’s every need. An excellent example of this is crippling lack of sleep many parents face in the first few months.

However, as time begins to pass, the “good enough mother” begins to allow her infant to experience periods of low-level frustration and inconvenience. An example of this is not rushing to her child’s side every time they become frustrated with a toy and allowing a few minutes of crying instead of immediately intervening. 

The driving force behind the concept of the “good enough mother” isn’t cruelty- it’s to foster cognitive development and allow the young child to establish their sense of self. When infants are young, they do not view themselves as separate from their mother. Only through moments of emphatic attuning facilitated by the mother will the baby eventually become aware of the external world outside their mother. 

“If the mother’s complete adaptation to the baby’s need goes on too long, and does not decrease naturally, the baby’s growing sense of a real external world apart from himself is interrupted,” Says Psychology Today. “He lingers in the magical world of illusion and hallucination. That is, he believes that simply having a need will lead to its immediate fulfillment.” 

Therefore, being a “good enough mother” doesn’t mean you’re putting your own needs before your children’s, but instead granting them the space to recognize that not every need requires automatic fulfillment, which ultimately leads to happier and more well-adapted children and ultimately, adults.

So- what does this REALLY mean?

Well, for starters, some may argue that being a “good enough mom” might be even MORE advantageous to a child’s development than having a “perfect mom” who caters to every need immediately and urgently. The benefit of this is two-fold. First, not only does this help alleviate some pressure from the mother, but it also helps facilitate the development of healthy children with realistic expectations.

We here at Latched Mama are both fascinated and inspired by this theory. So much so that we decided to break out of the typical “Best Mom Ever” mold this Mother’s Day by introducing a line of “Good Enough Mama” gift bundles, perfect for reminding yourself or others that sometimes being good enough trumps perfection. And that is a reminder that anyone raising children needs to hear! 

To check out our line of Good Enough Mama apparel and accessories click here.

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