Should “their good” be good enough?

At his part time job, my son’s work is organized, clean and excellent, leaving the managers counting on him for more important responsibilities than other employees. My son is the teenager at his part time job who does what he is told to the very best of his ability.

Maintaining an organized bedroom? Cleaning the kitchen floor as well as Mom? Not so much.

Okay, sometimes his chores are done to the best of his ability. But in a teenager’s life with friends coming over, his first set of wheels in the driveway, and a girlfriend, well…the boy’s mind is just not on placing the big spoons with the big spoons in the silverware drawer. Cleaning underneath the toilet seat when cleaning the bathroom slips his mind.

One of my best friends once told me, ‘I’m the one who likes the house clean, so I can’t impose that on my kids’… Me? I indeed impose that upon my kids!

But maybe “their good” should be “good enough”. Different seasons in a child’s life bring differing levels of effort or interest – and this is normal. When my kids were in elementary school, they would vacuum the same three foot space of carpet for 10 minutes, just to do their best! Back then, there were few life distractions, play dates were controlled by Mom and their mind wasn’t on “what’s next?” or “where is my cell phone?”.

Occasionally I wondered: If I expect less at home will they be less at their part time jobs? Letting my insanely deep thought process go even further, will me letting them get away with only dusting half the tables (because they “forgot” about the others) lead to a forgotten business report to their boss when they are 30?

Okay, that might be taking it too far. To what extent, or at what age, do we say “I accept that this is your best”?

For me, it happened when my youngest daughter struggled with math in the fifth grade. My older twins enjoyed more academic ease, so after watching her put in double the time, only to earn a lesser grade (and suffer with the massive disappointment afterward), I knew my attitude about it would be everything to her. Other than tutoring and trying her best, there would be no “demands” for improvement because that child was giving it all she had.

After that experience, I learned to “back off” my kids in a number of ways that I had previously been demanding excellence about. While I still have high expectations, I realized that my acceptance of “their” good would usually – in itself – inspire them to do their very best.

10 thoughts on “Should “their good” be good enough?

  1. I needed to read those words tonight. My son is turning four tomorrow and lately I have been too hard on him regarding his behaviour, I think. I missed the relative simplicity of when he was younger than 3 – I have found the past year to be the most challenging of all, and many many times lost my temper or struggled to contain his outbursts. Maybe, like you said in your post, he is giving the best he can with the energy and understanding that he has and my expectations cause frustration in him which gets unleashed in his words and actions. Sometimes it is little things like him keeping himself awake at night; other times it is how slow he eats or gets ready when we need to be somewhere ontime. It could be how he gets distracted and doesn’t follow through with what I ask him to do (countless times a day). Or his flat refusal to start a task in the first place. I have so much to learn and so much to be thankful for.


    • Hi and thanks for reading. Yes, those moments can be challenging, but I always remind myself that “I’m the grown up”, even though my children are teens now! We are called to be more self controlled and self disciplined. We must encourage because the world does so much tearing down. You care deeply and that already makes you a sweet Mama :).

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  2. Good idea! There was a time when Forrest was doing a lot more chores around the house than I have him doing right now because his schedule is so full.

    You seem to have gained a lot
    of wisdom parenting your children. I am just starting to feel like I’m getting good at this parent thing. When God blesses
    me with more children I think I’ll have e an easier go at it now that I’ve had some practice.


    • I smiled reading your comment…you are right – we know so much more now, don’t we? Yes, my older two like Forrest, are often too busy to help as much around the house. Seasons keep changing, don’t they? Thank you for the comment :).

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  3. I love this. It’s important for us to look at each child individually and determine what their “best” is. We can really do more harm than good if we put them all in the same box.


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