- Jennifer Z. Major
Is 'good' really the enemy of 'best'?
In the wake of the whole US college admissions scandal, which has been observed anywhere on the scale between "Meh, whatever" to "kids, it's family therapy time", all the way to "Mommy got 10 years", I asked myself how much is too much, and if some parents cannot see that they live their lives through their kids.
(Yes, that was a long sentence. But you did it!!)
There's a massive difference between living your kids' lives with them, and living your kids' lives through them. Then there's that pathetic beast known as "living your life through your kids".
First, and foremost, let me get this point across: until they reach/ed adulthood, I am not and never was interested in being my kids' friend.
I am their mother, not their bestie. And yes, as they grow older, falling onto a pattern of friendship is normal.
When they were little, they knew that a hissy-fit in a store over a "want" was a sure fire way to get in serious trouble. Also, uhh, no, not everyone gets an iPhone for a kindergarten graduation gift. That's what Happy Meal toys are for.
But when they were teens, I did not want their approval, I wanted their attention. I did not seek to win "fun mom" points, I sought to raise kind, well-mannered, intelligent humans.
So, back to the good vs. best thing.
Over the last week, I watched quite a lot of news stories, and a few Youtube videos made by college students, in which the topic of discussion was the admissions scandal. The general consensus was that whichever college spot these overly-wealthy and academically under-qualified students took, that a student of lesser means but greater qualifications lost out.
Oh, lost out on so much.
Listen, I have nothing against those parents who are well-off and who do what they can to help their kids, as long as the kid does the actual work and earns the actual goal. Because when that kid is in the trenches, doing whatever it is that they do, they have to keep the spot that they earned.
Good parents do what is needed to help their kids. Sometimes, that means standing back and "letting" the kid take the reins. Sometimes, that means taking the reins for a while so the kid can recover from the stress of being a kid.
(And yes, someone who is 18 years old and about to graduate is still "a kid".
Oh, and anyone over 40 , or even 30, will tell you that it was way easier to survive the teens years before smart phones and social media came along.)
Good parents do what we need to do to raise the best kids we can.
Good parents want the best for their kids.
We want them to achieve the best that they can.
Wait...do we really want our kids to always be the very best.
At all times.
No matter the pressure.
That is unrealistic.
But then there's that old saying "good is the enemy of best".
Which brings me to my question: is good really the enemy of best?
Why can't "good" be the "best" that we ask for?
Yes, I expect my kids to do their best. Sometimes, they land in the good zone, sometimes they land in that rarefied spot reserved for "the best".
Overall, being good is exactly what we want them to be.
I do not mean "good at..."
I mean, "good".
When we teach them to be good, when we encourage them to see the good, and when we instruct them in the ways of goodness? Inevitably, they will be good people, which will give them the emotional energy to aim for their best.
A mountain range, and life, is full of peaks and valleys.
One person's good is the valley floor, in the shade.
Another person's good is the top of the peak.
Where's the best spot? Well, that depends on what the goal is.