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Sometimes – and the dark, cold, cooped-up days of January are just such times – it seems that we can’t get this parenting thing right. Our kids fight us and each other, they defy our orders and all logic, and they seem to be moving backwards as much as moving ahead.

At times like these, it’s helpful to imagine what it takes to be “good enough.” Not spectacular. Not amazing. Just good enough.

The human race has been around for a long, long time and most people have turned out okay. This should be a clue that being “good enough” as a parent isn’t all that complicated. And it’s not. Study after study after study has shown that to become capable, competent, well-adjusted citizens, most children need just a few simple things.

Kids need to know they’re loved and appreciated. This isn’t very difficult to do, but often we forget how important this is. Stop and tell your children that you love them dearly, at least once every day.

Kids need to know you have confidence in them. Here again, it’s easy to try to make our kids perfect instead of recognizing that they’re a work-in-progress. Actually, we’re all a work-in-progress. We all make mistakes and have to redo things. Let your children know that you know they will eventually succeed.

Kids need to know that you’re there to help. You may not have all the answers. In fact, it’s certain that you don’t. But you do have your children’s best interests at heart and no matter what trouble they get into you’re there to lend a hand. Children need to know this with certainty. Do yours?

Kids need to know that there’s always a solution. Children who have a positive attitude and are resilient in the face of setbacks do better in school and grow up to do better in life. Being resourceful and persistent are skills every child needs, and they learn them from you.

There. That’s not too hard. Being “good enough” as a parent has nothing to do with what are sometimes called “the advantages” of life. It’s not about things that money can buy. It’s about the things money can’t buy. Being good enough involves trying to make a real emotional connection with your children without expecting them – or expecting you – to be perfect.

Actions speak louder than words. Acting “good enough” is good enough.