Who’s not good enough?

How many of you had the feeling growing up that you were not good enough? Especially with relation to your achievements

From an exhibition by Ann Bellamy called ‘Just Be Normal: Memoirs of a Dissenting Child’


Answers in the comments below please!

I certainly did.

Being ‘good enough’ as a kid was an impossible task. And the painful feeling associated with it returned when I saw this piece of artwork in an exhibition recently, about being good enough.

Making people feel not good enough is a dangerous mistake we easily fall prey to as we raise and educate our kids.

On the one hand we want to be encouraging and supportive in helping them achieve. On the other hand we don’t want to be complacent about what can be achieved by over praising or staying still. I know there was a point in our home educating years where I was suddenly mindful of the fact that through my constant encouragement towards taking things further, I was inadvertently suggesting that the point which had been reached was never enough!

This is somewhere between a stick and a hard place I fear! I hope I changed.

The important thing is, when we are raising and facilitating our kids learning and growing, to remember that;

the children are already perfect, whole and complete, in the moment.

This does not mean that there is no room for advancement, or that there is not a journey of learning and growing to enjoy. It’s just means that no one is ‘not good enough’ yet without.

And we also have to be careful not to make educating in itself something judgemental and something that suggests the kids are not good enough without.

Of course, you have to define ‘education’! Something I’ve talked about before. (I’ve discussed this in numerous posts, examples here and here and in the last chapter of my ‘Home Education Notebook‘) I know that many make the mistake of equating education with qualification only. So people without qualification can end up feeling ‘not good enough’ if they didn’t go down that route. Hopefully, we are beginning to place that in a different perspective now as we’re recognising that over-qualification has often meant the lack of more important life-skills.

What we want to nurture is a feeling of optimism and potential for change within our learners that comes from an understanding of their many talents, encourage their openness to learning and growing and opportunity, within the context of knowing themselves, what they want, how achieving those things is fulfilling and worthwhile.

And that being ‘good enough’ in other people’s eyes – for that’s what we’re talking about here – bears no relation to their education whatsoever!


6 thoughts on “Who’s not good enough?

  1. Yes, this was exactly what my parents said to me. I know they meant it to be reassuring and to say that they valued my efforts but to me it meant that I had to be THE best because if I wasn’t, then how would I know that I’d done my best? Of course, I never believed that I was the best at anything, although there were things I was good at and have always been very driven as a result because that need to prove myself runs deep. Circumstances have forced me to let go somewhat over the years; good enough is now, sometimes, good enough…… With my childten, especially the youngest who has been home ed since age 9, I always try to make sure I ask them if THEY are happy with their achievements. If they are, then it’s sufficient at that time. Usually they find something they want to improve and despite my efforts tend to be perfectionist and self critical, especially youngest in relation to his figure skating so I find that I’m always trying to point out the good things and how much progress they’ve made. It’s a fragile balancing act I think but I hope they feel less pressure than I did-and still do and can relax and enjoy more than suffering that ‘never good enough’ feeling all their lives.

    • Really appreciate you taking the time to share your story – and tips for others too. I’m sure readers will be inspired. I think what you say about asking the children if they’re happy with their work is a form of respect for the part they play in their own progress, which is often taken away from children, adults always thinking they know better! Many thanks for this.

  2. It’s the law of unintended consequences, isn’t it? I still feel like this now, at 50, due to these pressures/comments/encouragements from my parents as well as from school and workplaces. They caused me no little psychological damage, but I only began to realise it when I did my psychology degree a few years ago! I will never be “enough” at anything, and it’s painful to realise that your own parents were accidentally part of the problem!

  3. So often I see children not being good enough. They are feeling pressure from exams, from teachers, from parents etc…… The whole marking system in schools is based around “how can you make this better” and I think it sends out an awful message. I remember as a kid how good it felt to get a “great work” sticker. It meant that that particular piece was good enough, and it hasnt left me. How sad that as adults we hold so much power over a childs sense of self worth.

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