Category: Good Enough Parenting

Did you wake up confused at why your spouse or partner can show more emotion with The Royals than with you? Often boys and sometimes girls are subtly told to ditch their vulnerable feelings except for in the confines of sports. Leaving dullness on the inside save for sports, sex and alcohol. Let me explain.


Kids need to develop in your sustaining presence. As they experience you they try you on and learn how they want to do things. This give kids a sense of belonging.

Richard Geist in his paper, Empathic Understanding, gives the following examples:

  • The 5year old that cooks side by side with a parent
  • The 8year old that shaves next to dad
  • The 12year old that takes on the same hobbies as his parents

Including your kids in your world will give them a place to feel like they belong, a sense of group identity. They will use that to become confident and mature.

Tuning into our kids and responding becomes their own ability to nurture themselves. Both Heinz Kohut and Richard Geist remind us that: more


Kids need strong adults in their life to look up to. They learn to use the strength of the adults, to borrow their power, and in doing so they eventually learn they too can be strong and the adult’s strength becomes their own. Often we can become worried that if we help our kids they will become dependent. This is true if we impose our help, but if we are responding to their request this does not need to be a worry. This can be a hard task if we as parents don’t feel “heroic” on the inside ourself. It can feel un-genuine when our child holds as “superhuman” at moments. Which can lead us to dismiss our child’s move towards maturity. Understanding that they need us to be strong can move us to accept their bid for assurance as well as it can spur us to work on our own stuff.

Richard Geist gives the following examples in his paper, Empathic Understanding:

  • The 4year old who is scared about going to pre-school for the first time and asks their parent to stay with them is asking the parent to borrow their strength so that they can make a big step towards the maturity of handling school on their own.
  • The 9year old that comes downstairs to ask how to spell a word is asking to borrow a parent’s superior knowledge.
  • The 12 year old who puts up sports posters on their wall is idealizing sports heroes in order to develop their own inner ideals and values. (I would also add the teen who becomes obsessed with certain bands, artists or other older adolescents)