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It’s a simple mantra but one that has the power to free working dads from everyday anxiety: good enough is good enough.
There are those that always strive for perfection and excellence.
And they are surely bound to be disappointed at least some of the time.
Certainly parents who follow that path are going to end up unhappy. Because there is no perfect parenting.
But there is one incredibly powerful phrase: good enough is good enough.
It ought to be handed out on a keep card to every new dad as they leave the maternity ward. Remember in 1997 when Tony Blair introduced the Labour pledge card to politics? This could be the labour pledge card.
In amongst the hurly burly of family life it’s easy to forget, to get caught up in the details, to get dragged into a debate with a toddler or a teenager that you have to win.
I was talking to a dad this week about just this. (Hopefully he’ll be sharing his insights in some blogs on the site in the near future). He has a son with autism. And in a way that’s forced him to adopt a more mindful approach. His son can be ‘awkward’ or ‘difficult’ – by other people’s standards – and of course that’s hard work. But he has had to learn to let go of anxiety about what other people think and focus on the most important thing – that he has a loved and lovable son. (That dad has moved into coaching and helping a charity for other parents of autistic kids, his site is very much worth a look.)
When I got involved in a mentoring project last year the new dad I was helping was set free by the idea that good enough is good enough.
The very fact that he was thinking about what sort of dad he wanted to be put him streets ahead of most other dads.
I don’t have this insight because I’m a great mentor. Someone said it to me once. And so, like all the best advice, it’s best passed on. But unlike the rest of Oscar Wilde’s famous saying – that one should always pass on good advice because it is never any use to oneself – it has been beneficial to me.
We working dads all beat ourselves up that when we’re at home we ought to be working and when we’re at work we ought to be more present at home. (Working from home and parenting from work as author Brian Ballantyne puts it).
But just being around at all brings huge benefits; to your children as well as to your partner, your relationship and your own health and mental well being.
Good enough is good enough is perhaps the most important mantra for working dads.
You don’t have to be the perfect dad. You just have to be dad.