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How do you know you're a good parent?

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 

Someone recently put forward the idea that our kids & their behavior shouldn't be the 'measuring stick' that we use to judge our own parenting skills. It puts too much pressure on kids to 'be good' so that mom will appear to be a good parent, and it makes mom feel like a 'bad' parent when kids don't exude perfection.

 

This struck a chord with me & I'd like to explore it more.

 

What do you think of this idea?

 

What 'measuring stick' do you use to determine if your parenting choices are on the right track?

 

Or do you avoid parenting 'measuring sticks' altogether?

post #2 of 51

I avoid "measuring sticks" at this point in my life.

I know I'm a good parent who does make mistakes. Just like I know that I"m a good person who makes mistakes.

 

DS's successes and failures do not define me, just as they don't DEFINE him.

 

Perhaps if my DS were older and out causing chaos in the world, I may measure my parenting in a much harsher way or ask myself harder questions. Hard to know. For now, being a good parent is just something I do. 

post #3 of 51

There is no fricken way my children's behavior is a measuring stick for my parenting.  For one, I have a child with autism (and another one with RAD & other issues) and the behavior in public is no way a reflection on myself.  If I decided I was a bad parent during every meltdown, stim, or instance of bad behavior, I'd seriously go into a depression.  

 

My children are fed, clothed, have a roof over their head, are given a stimulating and educational environment, are loved, and aren't abused, and I apologize to other parents if my children aren't acting appropriately while disciplining my children and teaching them appropriate ways to behave.  I guess that makes me a good parent.  I am, by no means, a 'supermom'.  But then again, I think the only 'bad' parents are the ones that don't give a $#!% about their kids, who bully them, abuse them, insult them, don't teach them how to act around other people, and neglect them.  There are some kids that are naturally little stinks in public, some have special needs that make meltdowns more likely, and tons of parents who do things differently than my 'ideal' for my own kids...that doesn't make them bad parents.  

post #4 of 51

Measuring sticks... and feeling the need to apply them to others... is how conflict is generated.  I have no measuring stick.  My dd is infinitely happy (as is my dh) and that is all that matters to me.

 

I think that people need to judge their own parenting and improve on it as they can, and know that the actions of other kids are not based on the way their own children react to situations.

post #5 of 51

I wouldnt use 'good behavior' as a reflection of good parenting. It shows these children are well controlled, and i always ask myself, how is that done? Control can be established in many questionable ways. 

 

Some days i think im a great parent, and others a terrible one (like when they are stuck in front of the the tv, because im not feeling well) But when i hear them singing joyfully, and saying they love each other, then i think ive done something right.

 

I dont think you can ever know. I dont know if im a good parent, but im somewhat confident, because i do the best i can.  Its a good question, but i dont think theres an answer. Its a bit similar to the question-am i a good person?

post #6 of 51

"How do you know you're a good parent?"

 

I don't. I do my best. It's all I've got. My kids can tell me what they thought of my parenting when they're older. Their opinions count the most, in most ways...and even they aren't necessarily "correct"...just valid.

 

post #7 of 51
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the responses. This is helping me figure something out.

 

I want to be a parent who doesn't need a measuring stick, but I'm struggling with always feeling sort of...lost at sea without a compass...which is perhaps just what parenting is like! DD isn't even 3 years old yet, so I still feel very much like a "new parent."

 

When she was a baby, I think I did constantly look to her and think, "she's eating, she's growing...I must be doing something right." And that got me through some hard times in those first months when traumatic birth/breast infection/sleep deprivation were making me feel so awful. I think I needed some kind of reassurance at the beginning that I was doing things right and since I felt so horrible, the only thing I could look to was her.

 

As she gains independence, I'm working on freeing myself from the need to look to her to validate myself. I just find it really, really hard. When she seems happy and healthy and "good", I feel like an OK parent. When she's doing things that I find challenging, I feel like I must be doing something wrong.

 

Lately she has been doing some things that I find very annoying (whining and being very bossy). I am trying to find a different way of thinking about those moments...not so much "here she goes again, this is so annoying, what am I doing wrong?" but instead, "here's that behavior that I find so annoying. How do I want to respond?"

 

Thus far parenting seems to be a lot more about getting ME to change than about getting her to do anything.

 

I don't know if I'm making any sense, but I hope people will keep responding to this thread!

post #8 of 51


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

 

As she gains independence, I'm working on freeing myself from the need to look to her to validate myself. I just find it really, really hard. When she seems happy and healthy and "good", I feel like an OK parent. When she's doing things that I find challenging, I feel like I must be doing something wrong.

....

 

I don't know if I'm making any sense, but I hope people will keep responding to this thread!


you totally make sense to me. For me, it's been a journey. Sometimes I think I'm done with the journey but then my kids change in some way and I get hit with it again.

 

Puberty was ROUGH. I really thought that I had let go of defining my parenting by how my kids were doing, but that was easy with upper elementary school aged kids (which is the easiest part of parenting IMHO). For years, my measuring stick was that my kids seemed happy most of the time. Then one of turned 12, and fell apart. She has some special needs that really hit her over the head. She was dx'ed with depression on top of everything else. My only measuring stick still left went out the window. Rather than being a "good enough" mom because my kids were basically happy, I had to let go of everything and just trust that my best -- getting her in counseling with some one with experience with adolescents -- was good enough.

 

She's 14 now and happy again.

 

I've gotten some things right in parenting, and somethings wrong. And some days I'm not even sure which is which.

 

I don't know if I'm a good mom. I don't know if my kids do as well as they do because of the things I've gotten right, or if they would be doing even better if I were more perfect. I've let go of all of that as best as I can.

 

The odd thing about practicing letting go of it with myself is that I don't feel judgement about other mothers anymore, and that's been very freeing for me.

 

I'm not even "doing my best" anymore, because for me, that had no balance and I got really burned out. Now I take more time for myself than I used, let things slide, and I'm happy and more relaxed with my kids. There's some irony in there, because when I quit trying to do my best every minute of every day, I was actually able to be more fully present with my kids when I am spending time with them.

post #9 of 51

I don't know that I'm a good parent.  I try to be, but I struggle sometimes to keep things together and treat my children the way they deserve to be treated when I'm feeling burnt out, which is a lot lately.  I know I'm not a horrible parent, and my children know that they are very, very loved.

 

What's validating for me is how well my 6 year old treats others.  He may not be well-behaved for me all the time, but he is kind to others, and I am very proud that with whatever parenting mistakes I have made, he has a big heart and treats others with respect, including his baby sister, who is his favorite person in the whole world.  That is a big deal for me.

 

I have finally managed to get a reliable babysitter and that will make me a happier person, which will make me a better mother.  Not everyone needs that kid-free time.  I do, and I haven't had it in a while, and it's been hard.  My son and I have a better relationship when we aren't together all day everyday.  

post #10 of 51

I guess I feel like a pretty good parent if my kids are mostly happy

post #11 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post


I'm not even "doing my best" anymore, because for me, that had no balance and I got really burned out. Now I take more time for myself than I used, let things slide, and I'm happy and more relaxed with my kids.



For me, "doing my best" includes self care and finding balance (it's an area I don't always do as well in as I'd like to!). Aside from the effects on my health, I don't think my kids need the message that they're the only thing in the world that matters. For a variety of reasons, I bent a little too far in that direction with my oldest - although not as far as I could have, thankfully - and it shows sometimes. He's a little bit over-inclined to think that his desires should trump the rest of the world around him, and I think that's partly at my door. He'd have been better off if I'd spent a little more time and energy on me when he was little...and so would I.

post #12 of 51
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post


 


you totally make sense to me. For me, it's been a journey. Sometimes I think I'm done with the journey but then my kids change in some way and I get hit with it again.

 

Puberty was ROUGH. I really thought that I had let go of defining my parenting by how my kids were doing, but that was easy with upper elementary school aged kids (which is the easiest part of parenting IMHO). For years, my measuring stick was that my kids seemed happy most of the time. Then one of turned 12, and fell apart. She has some special needs that really hit her over the head. She was dx'ed with depression on top of everything else. My only measuring stick still left went out the window. Rather than being a "good enough" mom because my kids were basically happy, I had to let go of everything and just trust that my best -- getting her in counseling with some one with experience with adolescents -- was good enough.

 

She's 14 now and happy again.

 

I've gotten some things right in parenting, and somethings wrong. And some days I'm not even sure which is which.

 

I don't know if I'm a good mom. I don't know if my kids do as well as they do because of the things I've gotten right, or if they would be doing even better if I were more perfect. I've let go of all of that as best as I can.

 

The odd thing about practicing letting go of it with myself is that I don't feel judgement about other mothers anymore, and that's been very freeing for me.

 

I'm not even "doing my best" anymore, because for me, that had no balance and I got really burned out. Now I take more time for myself than I used, let things slide, and I'm happy and more relaxed with my kids. There's some irony in there, because when I quit trying to do my best every minute of every day, I was actually able to be more fully present with my kids when I am spending time with them.


There seems to be a paradox at the center of parenting. I still have so many moments when I feel caught off guard...I thought I was doing the right thing, but then doing the opposite seems to work better. I guess I thought there would be some magical moment when it all made sense & I'd know what I was doing. Ha! It's good to hear from someone who's much further down the path than I am. I hope I can keep relaxing into things more, as you've learned to do!

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post





For me, "doing my best" includes self care and finding balance (it's an area I don't always do as well in as I'd like to!). Aside from the effects on my health, I don't think my kids need the message that they're the only thing in the world that matters. For a variety of reasons, I bent a little too far in that direction with my oldest - although not as far as I could have, thankfully - and it shows sometimes. He's a little bit over-inclined to think that his desires should trump the rest of the world around him, and I think that's partly at my door. He'd have been better off if I'd spent a little more time and energy on me when he was little...and so would I.


This is good for me to hear. As an "old" mom of an only child that I desperately wanted & went to great lengths to conceive, carry & birth, I am very aware that I am prone to give my child the message that she's the center of the universe. Knowing that doesn't always make me change my parenting, though! But perhaps I could feel less conflicted about things like going to a work conference for 4 days or taking a weekend to attend a dance workshop.

 

post #13 of 51
I figure if my kids are overall happy (not all the time but if that's their general state of being) then I'm doing a reasonable job. Of course that isn't perfect either because some kids suffer from depression or become depressed due to outside issues not related to parenting, and I wouldn't blame myself if something like that were going on either. However, my kids seem happy and seem to know they're loved, and that makes me feel like at least I'm not totally screwing up, but if they had emotional problems I wouldn't assume I were to blame either.

I don't think there is a perfect measuring stick.
post #14 of 51

honestly i dont really think or care about this. 

 

i dont really care about being a good mother. 

 

i care about being dd's mother. period. that means listening to her - truly listening to her and also having her listen to me. really listen to me. and sometimes the best way is silence.

 

all i care about is dd feeling loved. which she feels most of the time. not all the time. and really that has nothing to do with what i do.

 

dd is almost 9 and oh boy am i really getting that parenting is just beginning. all the stuff i've done before was soooo easy compared to life now. 

post #15 of 51

I wouldn't use kids behavior in public as a measuring stick, because of pressure on the kids. I do use their overall behavior in a variety of places and at  variety of times to gauge my parenting effectiveness. When they get badly behaved at particular times of day or in particular circumstances, I look to change behavior or situation.

 

Oh, and that's all based on knowing where that specific kid was before behavior-wise, not an arbitrary standard of good behavior. 

 

I think of it as similar to classroom teaching-- the difference between a single, high-stakes achievement test and general ongoing assessment and shifts in method.    

post #16 of 51

 

Quote:
I think of it as similar to classroom teaching-- the difference between a single, high-stakes achievement test and general ongoing assessment and shifts in method.  

That's the analogy I was going to use! A teacher wouldn't (or shouldn't) judge her skills as a teacher by how well kids do on their end-of-year exams. Kids have all sorts of individual challenges. One kid might have gotten, via the teacher's valiant efforts, from straight Fs to a C+ average; another might have cruised through life with As, and would have gotten As even without showing up to class once during the year. Obviously that teacher wasn't a "better" teacher to the second kid than the first. And even the average grade of the class doesn't tell you much. What decile school was she teaching in? Were the kids getting adequate sleep, nutrition and emotional safety at home? Did they get help with homework? And so on, and so forth.

 

As a PP said, if you judge parenting by behavior, every parent of a special needs/behaviorally challenged child is going to look like a terrible parent. Having grown up with a SN sibling, I'd say dealing with the day's eighth tantrum makes a parent a saint, not a bad parent. :p But from an "objective" point of view, it would look like tantrums equalled bad parenting.

 

That's not to say behavior - or school exams - are totally worthless as yardsticks for effectiveness in parenting or pedagogy. But you have to look at it recognising that:

 

a) Some kids have difficult personalities and some don't

and

b) It's not all about the parent or teacher

 

Am I a good parent? I honestly don't know (except in the basic I-don't-flick-lighted-matches-at-my-kid's-face-and-she-can-find-clean-undies-in-a-pinch kind of way). I know that I feel like a good parent when she behaves well when we go out, and a bad parent when she acts out. And sometimes, frankly, it is to do with a parenting goof on my part - if I take her out when she's used to having her nap, well duh, she gets tired and cranky. When it gets more abstract than that, it's harder to know for sure. Is she whining when we have to leave the park because I don't take her to the park often enough? Because she craves one-on-one time I'm not providing, or more fresh air than I remember to give her? Or because I'm not quick or consistent enough with discipline for whining? Or is it just typical three-year-old developmental inability to control her disappointment at being taken away from a fun activity, and inability to comprehend and appreciate the length of the to-do list waiting for me at home? Who knows?

post #17 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post


I don't know if I'm a good mom. I don't know if my kids do as well as they do because of the things I've gotten right, or if they would be doing even better if I were more perfect. I've let go of all of that as best as I can.


 

I want to amend my answer.  winky.gif

 

I have little moments when little things happen and I do feel like I'm a good mom. They aren't measuring sticks or standards, just things I notice and feel positive about my family and how things are going.

 

For example, at dinner the other night, one of my kids spilled a drink and it really went flying. No one got upset, and everyone quickly worked together to clean it up. There was no blame, no shame, no "I don't want to help cuz I didn't make the mess."  There was something to clean up, and everyone quickly pitched in without being told. And I figured that was the result of some good parenting. thumb.gif

 

It's just little things, though, nothing big. The little moments of connection with my kids, the little moments when they amaze me.


Edited by Linda on the move - 7/1/11 at 12:47pm
post #18 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by EviesMom View Post

I wouldn't use kids behavior in public as a measuring stick, because of pressure on the kids. I do use their overall behavior in a variety of places and at  variety of times to gauge my parenting effectiveness. When they get badly behaved at particular times of day or in particular circumstances, I look to change behavior or situation.

 

Oh, and that's all based on knowing where that specific kid was before behavior-wise, not an arbitrary standard of good behavior. 

 

I think of it as similar to classroom teaching-- the difference between a single, high-stakes achievement test and general ongoing assessment and shifts in method.    

 Yes, this.

 

 Dd is 5.5 and even through my best efforts sometimes she's just going through emotional turmoil herself with all the growing up that she's doing, and that is reflected in her behavior.  Usually, if we're going through behavioral issues I first evaluate how I'm parenting to see if that helps--making sleep a priority, evaluating our diet, etc.  I guess what I'm saying is that I don't necessarily use behavior to confirm my parenting but rather as a gauge to see how I can change our environment to better meet dd's needs.  Sometimes my parenting is at fault, sometimes it isn't.  I try and not tie too many emotions to dd's behavior because the reality is that sometimes she is just developing like she should and that includes a certain amount of angst and emotional weirdness.  However, I have observed children who are not as emotionally attached to their parents and it shocks me that so many parents blatantly miss behavioral cues that something is amiss with their kids and they are crying out for attention and emotional connection.  I guess that's part and parcel of being detached and it makes me thank AP for keeping us in a connected place since I can more accurately evaluate dd's behavior.  As far as "measuring sticks" for my parenting, I look at how relaxed, peaceful, and happy *I* am. I realize that sound self-centered but for me, at least, I have found it to be pretty accurate.  If *I* am feeling wonderful overall, then everything is in it's place.  When I am getting off-balance, then I re-evaluate.  Of course, dd's behavior plays into how *I* am feeling, but being emotionally-connected I can usually sense if the issue is within her or if it is originating within something that I'm doing.
 

 

post #19 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

 


Am I a good parent? I honestly don't know (except in the basic I-don't-flick-lighted-matches-at-my-kid's-face-and-she-can-find-clean-undies-in-a-pinch kind of way).


ROTFLMAO.gif Yes, sometimes being a good parent is just a matter of not being a bad parent.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by LuxPerpetua View Post



 Yes, this.

 

 Dd is 5.5 and even through my best efforts sometimes she's just going through emotional turmoil herself with all the growing up that she's doing, and that is reflected in her behavior.  Usually, if we're going through behavioral issues I first evaluate how I'm parenting to see if that helps--making sleep a priority, evaluating our diet, etc.  I guess what I'm saying is that I don't necessarily use behavior to confirm my parenting but rather as a gauge to see how I can change our environment to better meet dd's needs.  Sometimes my parenting is at fault, sometimes it isn't.  I try and not tie too many emotions to dd's behavior because the reality is that sometimes she is just developing like she should and that includes a certain amount of angst and emotional weirdness.  However, I have observed children who are not as emotionally attached to their parents and it shocks me that so many parents blatantly miss behavioral cues that something is amiss with their kids and they are crying out for attention and emotional connection.  I guess that's part and parcel of being detached and it makes me thank AP for keeping us in a connected place since I can more accurately evaluate dd's behavior.  As far as "measuring sticks" for my parenting, I look at how relaxed, peaceful, and happy *I* am. I realize that sound self-centered but for me, at least, I have found it to be pretty accurate.  If *I* am feeling wonderful overall, then everything is in it's place.  When I am getting off-balance, then I re-evaluate.  Of course, dd's behavior plays into how *I* am feeling, but being emotionally-connected I can usually sense if the issue is within her or if it is originating within something that I'm doing.
 

 


I do think that AP is right for me...I feel better about my parenting when I feel well-connected, like I understand what's going on with my kid. I do wonder how well that's going to serve me when DD is a teenager...but maybe the AP approach isn't intended to be a road map for the entire parenting journey, just a starting point.

 

I wish that I could say I was a relaxed, peaceful, and happy parent...it totally makes sense to me that my happiness should figure into the equation! I had such a rough start that I it was a long time before I felt at all "good" while parenting. I was in pain, exhausted, stressed out...you name it. I don't think I was a bad parent then...I was just in over my head. Now I feel a little more on top of things.

 

post #20 of 51
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post




 

I want to amend my answer.  winky.gif

 

I have little moments when little things happen and I do feel like I'm a good mom. They aren't measuring sticks or standards, just things I notice and feel positive about my family and how things are going.

 

For example, at dinner the other night, one of my kids spilled a drink and it really went flying. No one got upset, and everyone quickly worked together to clean it up. There was no blame, no shame, no "I don't want to help cuz I didn't make the mess."  There was something to clean up, and everyone quickly pitched in without being told. And I figured that was the result of some good parenting. thumb.gif

 

It's just little things, though, nothing big. The little moments of connection with my kids, the little moments when they amaze me.

 Wow, I am learning a lot from you in this conversation.  This last statement is really simple, but there's something profound there. I'm going to start focusing more on the little moments where things feel good, and (hopefully) worrying less about the rest.
 

 

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