‘Good enough’ for psychologist parents

A letter from our December edition.

I am writing with regard to the recent article (‘Honey, I shrunk the kids’, October 2016) reflecting conversations with the children of psychologists and how psychologists parent their own children. As the parent of a five-year-old and a 22-month-old, I read with great interest the experience of colleagues. After, I was left wondering if the field of psychology we work in has the potential to influence our parenting. The flavour from the parents interviewed seemed to reflect the meeting of developmental milestones, which I had never really paid much consideration to other than recording things in the baby records I was gifted. Admittedly this was done more for my girls to have a record of themselves and to know that they were loved than to chart their progress per se. However, on one occasion I was asked by the nursery school teacher, ‘Do you in your professional opinion think your daughter has a problem?’ The answer to this was a resounding ‘No’, she’s free-spirited and I believed would get there in her own time – as she now has. On reflection though, my initial reaction was to track down a WPPSI and test her in order to ‘show them’, but I suppressed this urge on the grounds that it didn’t seem ethically right to do this when I didn’t believe there was a problem.

As a mental health practitioner, I have spent a lot of time agonising over whether my children will be contented and confident, since on a daily basis I meet people who are struggling with low self-esteem. This has at times been exacerbated by unnecessary worrying about attachment. Luckily, being a psychologist I have mates who are also psychologists and there is a ready-made peer supervision network. My close friend and fellow clinical psychologist and I have had many conversations ending by reminding ourselves of Winnicott’s stance of ‘good enough’ parenting, and this is what I strive for.

Dr Ali Robertson
Highly Specialist Clinical Psychologist

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