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The Good Enough Mom

By Leslie Vernick

Mother’s day is right around the corner, so I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned about being a good enough mother.

Many of us picture a good mom as supermom. We think that our kids will do better and love us more if we do everything for them. We’re always there for them. And we sacrifice our own needs to help them and make sure there are plenty of pillows around when they fall down. But in the end, that approach cripples your child. It teaches her that she cannot be the owner of her own life because you don’t trust that she is capable of managing without you or your help.

The basic job of a good enough mother is to help your children NOT to need you when they grow up. Sure we all want a great relationship with our kids, but that relationship must mature into a more mutual and reciprocal one or it’s not healthy.

Below are essential life lessons you must teach your child (besides teaching them to know and love God).

Please do not beat yourself up if you see you fall short. This may be an opportunity for you to see parenting in a whole new way. But you won’t learn if you are upset with yourself that you didn’t know these things or do them before.

Life Lesson One: Your child must learn/experience that he/she is unconditionally loved. Unconditional love creates a secure base from which the rest of life’s lessons are absorbed. That does not mean that anything goes in terms of bad behavior, but it means that no matter how poorly your child behaves, he or she knows Mom loves me. (If this is hard for you, fill yourself up with God’s unconditional love for you).

Life Lesson Two: Every child needs to learn how to name and express his/her own emotions appropriately. For example when a child is whining, put words to their whine, “I see you are tired, or hungry, or crabby.” Doing this helps your child develop a vocabulary to express what’s going on inside of his/her body.

Life Lesson Three: Every child needs to learn how to manage and control his/her emotions, especially the more volatile or negative emotions. As a mother, validate and name your child’s emotions as well as the boundaries or limitations of expressing them. “I know you’re tired (or hungry or mad) but you cannot hit mommy.”

We live in a “feeling” dominated culture but without self-control, indulging those feelings with no boundaries will wreak havoc over one’s life and cause one to become “corrupt” or “deformed” as a person.

Life Lesson Four: Children need to understand reality and its limits. For example, “not everyone comes in first place or gets a trophy.” Sometimes we lie to our kids inflating his/her abilities or talents (you can do anything you want to do) because we want them to gain self-esteem and self-confidence. But that ultimately backfires when they come up against reality (life).

Genuine self-esteem isn’t built by false reality. Confidence in one’s ability is built by learning to do something well. Confidence is also achieved by knowing you can LEARN to do something if you need to, even if you don’t know how to do it yet.

Help your children “accept” reality rather than resist it. They will become happier rather than always feeling sullen and angry that “reality” doesn’t bend to what he/she wants it to.

Life Lesson Five: Children need to learn how to take responsibility for themselves. Being a good mom does not mean you over function and do everything for your child. You must give your child age appropriate responsibilities so that they learn how to NOT need you anymore in order to become a fully functioning adult. For example, don’t do his science project when he has procrastinated. Let your child experience the consequences of reality, a bad grade.

Life Lesson Six: Children need to learn how to identify the lies they believe and learn to think truthfully. Children will naturally lie to themselves just as adults do. Therefore a good mom corrects her child’s thinking with the truth, as appropriate to the situation and his/her age. For example, your child cries, “I’m just stupid” because she’s having problems with her math homework. You don’t do her homework for her, but you say, “Math can be difficult and it takes more effort and concentration to learn harder things. You can learn this math but it takes work. You’re not stupid.”

Parenting is hard work. I wish I would have understood these things better when I was raising children. Don’t beat yourself up, but stop knocking yourself out trying to be the hero of your child’s story. It’s much more empowering for your child to become the hero (problem solver) of his or her own life.


Forging a Strong Mother/Daughter Bond (mini book)

by Leslie Vernick

Moms want to be close to their daughters. Daughters (for the most part) want a good relationship with their moms. But when that relationship is strained by one person s attempt to control and manipulate, closeness is replaced by hurt, disappointment, anger, and fear. Leslie Vernick shares two stories of moms and daughters who learned how to move beyond the cycle of manipulation and control and give and share love honestly and without fear. By revealing how Christ calls and empowers us to love, she offers hope and practical help in breaking these destructive patterns of relating.

Two winners will be selected in our next newsletter.

If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide name and email address.

The winners of “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope” by Maria C. and Melissa M.

How To Protect My Client From More Abuse During Visitation

By Leslie Vernick

Question: My counselee is separated from her verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically abusive husband. Courts are not involved. They have a four-month-old baby. Husband wants to see the baby but uses time not to be with the child but to abuse the wife. The wife is discouraged and uncertain about how to proceed. I’m helping her work on CORE and her emotions. Help!!!

Answer: Thank you for your question. I suspect there are a lot of counselors, both lay and professional, with big hearts who aren’t exactly sure what to do when encountering these kinds of situations.

Your first goal with your counselee is to help her establish safety for herself and her child. From what you report, this is not happening as your client is continuing to be abused when the child’s father visits.

Let me ask a few questions. You mentioned that those courts are not involved. If there has been physical abuse, then why not? Is she continuing to be physically abused when he visits the child? Sexually abused? If so, she needs help in calling the police and pressing charges and getting a protection from abuse order.

Here is What People are Saying About Leslie's Conquer Support Group

I completed one year in the Conquer program and found both peace and community here. Joining the Conquer group was a way for me to immerse myself in a supportive community of women who understand the patterns of a destructive marriage. Within our safe and private Facebook group, we shared inspiring scriptures, educational resources, and our lives.

During my membership year, I also focused on my own recovery and I prayed for guidance from God. I prayed for the strength and resolve to make the changes required to find peace for myself and my child. I decided that I could not stay in my marriage, and by the mid-point of my program, I had moved out of my home and filed for divorce. I am at peace with my decision, and it truly is a peace that passes human understanding.

There are women in the program who decide to stay with their husbands and those who decide to leave. There are those who know they’re just not ready to do either. Within our group we are free to discuss our personal decision-making without a sense of judgement.

In closing, I highly recommend Conquer. I am better educated and I have gained a sense of validation. I needed to know I was not crazy, and not alone. ABOVE ALL- I'm so thankful for each one of my Conquer Sisters. For their transparency, kindness, willingness to read, to listen and to share. I will continue to pray for Leslie, my Conquer sisters, and this ministry.

~ Stacey


Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.

Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.

Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.


Leslie Vernick PO Box 5312 Sun City West, Arizona 85376 United States