How did you learn to be a "good" parent? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 04-27-2011, 07:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm really struggling w this lately, feeling like i'm floundering in the dark w this parenting thing.

How did you figure it out? Trial and error? Reading books? Classes? Something i'm not thinking of?

How do you mentally reconcile whatever "mistakes" you might make along the way? None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes, but i'm having difficulty moving past even the smallest of them.

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#2 of 21 Old 04-27-2011, 07:39 AM
 
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I think I am becoming a good parent and it's been trial and error. the #1 thing that has changed things for me (that is lacking right now and the reason why I feel like I'm doing a kind of sucky job) is prioritizing my own needs. I am 9 mos pregnant in terrible pain and so I can't do that right now. But things were really good for us when I worked a little, worked out every day (1.5 hours of gym daycare for the kids), had a night or two out per month, got strict with nighttimes to minimize waking, made myself go to bed early, kept a really tight schedule during the day so everyone was busy and structured. Also very clear behavioral expectations and consequences went a very long way to getting cooperative behavior.

Having all that in place made us all very happy. And it's easy to be a good parent when everyone is enjoying themselves, IME.

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#3 of 21 Old 04-28-2011, 10:19 AM
 
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I like your question.  :)  I think the answer would be different for everyone.

 

When I was a new, first-time, overly sleep-deprived perfectionist determined to "do AP right" and all, I thought I had it all in the bag when I read all the right books and did all of the 'stuff' of parenting that I believed in.  I believed I was being a good parent by virtue of the fact that I nursed, coslept, wore my babies, etc.

 

It's been a few years now, and I think I have become a much better parent by laying a lot of that aside and really believing in the very simple fact that we are all doing the best we can, right now.  My kids are being petulant and picky with one another today....and they're both doing the best they can right now, after long mornings at school and yet another rainy day this week.  I am quite certain that sending everyone to their rooms (including me, right now) for a few moments of solitude and peace will help all three of us do even better.

 

When I view other parents doing things (angry at kids for not putting their coats on fast enough...texting madly when their kids are trying to talk to them, whatever - ), I think that they are probably doing the best they can right now.  I think it applies for the parenting choices that people make, in general -- we are all doing the best we can.

 

I realize that not everyone is doing good things/doing their best all the time - I'm not naive - abuse is not acceptable, and all ---- but my parenting, and really, my lens on the world really changed when I started practicing active compassion.


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#4 of 21 Old 04-28-2011, 03:01 PM
 
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Trial and error, a lot of reading and some reflection on what my parents did right.

 

I think for me, I'm lucky because I had a decent childhood. It wasn't perfect. My parents made mistakes and they rarely apologized for their mistakes. At the same time, they raised 5 competent children who still have a decent relationship with them. Some of us have a better relationship than others but we all love our parents. My oldest sister had/has the hardest time because my mom was hospitalized for several months when she was about 9 months old, and it did disrupt her attachment. Add to that my sister's own tendency (genetic, from both sides of the family) to depression and anxiety and my mom's 2 year bout with depression after 4 members of her  immediate family were killed in an accident and yeah, some parts of my sister's childhood sucked. But despite those pretty big hurdles, they've developed a good relationship over time. My sister did a good job of raising her own kids, and has a great relationship with them (they're young adults now).

 

So, when I screw up, I guess I think back to my parents. They didn't do everything perfect and yet we have a good relationship. That gives me hope that my kids will be able to move past what I'm doing wrong. My parents got the fundamental things right: Respect for your children, trust, love, responsibility and time together. I'm trying to improve on what they did -- I try to apologize when I mess up, for example. I think we're disciplining less punitively (though my parents weren't bad, it was partly just a different era).

 

Two final thoughts:

When you mess up, view it as a chance to model for your child how you recover from mistakes. They shouldn't grow up thinking their parents are perfect and they should grow up knowing it's OK to make mistakes.

 

Second, if you really can't move past the little mistakes you're making (everyone makes them), have you been screened for depression/anxiety? That's a classic symptom (yes, I got the genetic tendency for depression/anxiety too, and have been treated).

 

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#5 of 21 Old 04-28-2011, 03:35 PM
 
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My mom really was the best mom, ever.  My dad pretty great too.  I was blessed during my childhood.


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#6 of 21 Old 04-28-2011, 05:40 PM
 
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You know, we are having a horrible night here.  Dealing with each other, and problems, and stress is ever-changing.  We're doing really badly with all of that as a family, and as a parent I am making a lot of sucky choices lately.

 

BUT - we have regular expressions of spontaneous love - the kids know they are cared for.  And I see in both our girls good things getting sent off to the world -- being accepting and thoughtful of others,being mindful, joyous, having adventure and excitement about life and working at making things better in so many ways.  

I think some of this is from the kids without us, sure, but it's thriving over the years.  And I use that as my measure of being a 'good' parent somewhat more than whether I did or did not yell, or say something mean, or whatever (of course I also talk to the kids about what I was feeling and apologize if needed or something else if I was being unjust/unfair - but I'll always be working at that stuff, it's kinda a separate issue than whether I'm doing a 'good' job).    

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#7 of 21 Old 04-28-2011, 07:08 PM
 
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For me it has been parenting forums like this one and some Yahoo groups I've belonged to, and then the books that the sane-sounding people there recommended. It's funny....the biggest most positive changes that I've been through as a parent came by following up on some parenting styles and advice from people who absolutely infuriated me when I first heard them. They seemed SO out-there and "permissive" or whatever.....but when I followed up on the ideas, read the books, started to put it all together in my head, reflected on what I had been doing, how I had been parented, trying new techniques....things started changing. We are in a whole new direction now.

 

As for mistakes, I apologize to my 8 y.o. son and I'm very honest with him. For example if I lose my temper or if I'm being bossy and controlling, then later on when it's a quiet time I may go in and say "sorry I was such a bossy monster earlier. When I'm under pressure from work I can forget how to be patient. I need to work on that, huh"  (something like that) and I think he appreciates it.

 

And we never "go to bed mad." Even when we're grumpy because perhaps he's been resisting bedtime and it's late and we're all cranky, HE will now say "Come back! Hugs! Let's not end on a bad note." And we never do. So just being open and honest and remembering that the times when we are most loving to them are the times that they can draw on for strength later on in life. If they feel like they are 100% supported, even if we feel like we are just bumbling along, then the love & support part will be what they remember, not the mistakes.

 

Best of luck. And seriously, be encouraged. When my guy was 3 and 4 years old, I think I was doing so many things wrong and we were in conflict most of the time. But after heeding some good advice, things are so , so , so much better. The better I parent, the better HE is!! haha. But I'm a work-in-progress for sure.

 

Some good books are Unconditional Parenting (Alfie Kohn), Between Parent and Child (and other books by Haim Ginott), P.E.T. (Parent Effectiveness Training) by Gordon, I think it is. Also anything by John Holt. And a web site called Hand In Hand Parenting (read the archived articles), and the one about Non-Violent Communication. I hope those resources help you.

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#8 of 21 Old 04-29-2011, 01:11 PM
 
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My start to being a good parent happened many many years before I actually had a child when someone I considered a mentor and one of the best social workers I'd ever met had her first child.  The first time I really got to sit down and catch up with her was when her baby was about 4 months old, and when I asked her how mothering was going, she said "LROM, I swear... when I think about all the good things I had going into having a baby: I've got a loving, supportive husband, we've got enough money, I have a supportive family, I'm a licensed social worker who's worked with kids and families forever... and then I think about the fact that I've actually been so tired and so frustrated and exasperated since having my baby that I've had thoughts of hurting my baby [she of course never actually did it, but she thought about it]... I tell ya, I can't imagine how teenagers do it, or single moms... I have every great support and I'm still losing my mind!"

 

Her saying that and pointing out how women (especially middle class women) by and large don't talk about how hard it can be and that sometimes they're that at the end of their rope, and that she WAS going to talk about it so moms knew that they were still good moms and still doing well if they were doing their best, providing for their child's basic needs, and keeping their sanity.

 

That had a profound impact on me, and this was before the internet where you can ask strangers the questions you're too afraid to ask people you know in person.

 

So when my baby was crying for hours and I had done everything I knew to try to comfort her and she was still crying, I combined that with what another friend told me "In those situations, just hold your baby and love on them and let them cry... or put them in safe place and walk away if you need to do that." and things mostly felt really manageable with those 2 bits of perspective.

 

When we hold ourselves to perfection, we're doing a disservice to both ourselves and our kids.  Who do we think we are?  No one is perfect.  Period.  And stressing ourselves out because we mess up something or in retrospect realize we should have done something different... we gotta keep asking ourselves what we want our kids to learn from our behavior.  I want my daughter to learn that I try to always do my best, and when I realize I messed up I admit it and try to learn from it and do better next time.  That is the most I can do, and to expect more from myself or others is just asking to be gravely disappointed.

 

I know it's not that simple, but that's worked for me and so far, so good!

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#9 of 21 Old 04-29-2011, 04:10 PM
 
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HAVING FAITH IN MYSELF, GETTING INFORMED, GETTING SUPPORT, DOING MY BEST, FORGIVING MYSELF, TAKING PARENTING SERIOUSLY, LOVING IT.

 
PROBABLY HAVING FAITH IM MYSELF IS THE MOST IMPORTANT RESOURCE, AND I BELIEVE THAT COMES FROM MY OWN CHILDHOOD.
 
YES, DEFINITELY READING BOOKS, AND LEARNING FROM SITES LIKE THIS AND  ATTACHMENT PARENTING ORIENTED YAHOO GROUPS, GOING TO MEETINGS, MEETING LIKEMINDED PEOPLE. TRUSTING MY CHILDREN.
 
PARENTING IS DIFFICULT AND  THE CHALLENGES YOU EXPERIENCE  MAY BE DIFFERENT  FROM OTHER PEOPLE. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE NEW CHALLENGES. ITS A STEEP LEARNING CURVE, BUT FOR ME A LABOR OF LOVE. STILL, YOU MAKE MISTAKES, SO I BELIEVE SELF FORGIVENESS IS IMPORTANT. I APOLOGIZE TO MY KIDS WHEN IVE DONE SOMETHING I WOULDN’T WANT THEM TO DO, OR I THOUGHT WAS BAD PARENTING.      
 

 

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#10 of 21 Old 04-29-2011, 04:24 PM
 
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errr.  I'm not sure that i am. LOL.  


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#11 of 21 Old 04-30-2011, 02:08 PM
 
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Well I don't think you ever know ;-)  My mom says I'm a good mom and I don't want her to jinx it so I keep telling her to hold off on that one for about 15 years.

 

It gets easier to find your feet once your child is a little bit older and you get more reliable feedback.  For me that shift happened between 2 and 3.  Having been though it once I now just take it on faith that my baby is going to turn out pretty much fine.  A tantrum isn't the end of the world and just because he won't let me brush his teeth tonight doesn't mean he will never brush his teeth.

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#12 of 21 Old 04-30-2011, 02:29 PM
 
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I, too, was in the lucky situation to have good parents. And I have an older sister who is a very good mother, looking how her children do compared to me and my siblings at the same age, she is much better than my parents, even. So I try and follow their ways and attempt to improve on their idea where I can. I do read parenting books (even occasionally those of authors with whom I have little in common) and I sometimes read parenting forums and listen to other mothers in playgroups. When I hear something that sounds like a good idea there I try it. If it doesn't work out, I drop it.
But mostly, I feel, what helps me to be good with the children, is concistency. I try to beconsistently myself, not supermom. I also keep reminding me, that they are my priority right now, so that I don't get grumpy, because I get too little else done.
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#13 of 21 Old 05-01-2011, 06:59 AM
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The book Unconditional Parenting was really helpful.  And it mentions that we will all make mistakes, and it's important to apologize to your children for your mistakes. 

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"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#14 of 21 Old 05-01-2011, 07:09 AM
 
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I FORGOT TO MENTION MY FAVORITE BOOK- 'CONNECTION PARENTING' BY PAM LEO.

I ALSO LOVE 'SIBLINGS WITHOUT RIVALRY' AND OTHER BOOKS IN THAT SERIES BY FABER AND MAZLISH.

 

THESE BOOKS HAVE BEEN HELPFUL TO ME IN MY PARENTING.

 

BTW, IM NOT ENTIRELY SURE WHAT 'GOOD PARENTING' ACTUALLY MEANS.  BUT FOR ME, IT PROBABLY MEANS   GIVING MY BEST TO PROVIDE FOR MY CHILDREN'S NEEDS. 

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#15 of 21 Old 05-01-2011, 07:51 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by contactmaya View Post

BTW, IM NOT ENTIRELY SURE WHAT 'GOOD PARENTING' ACTUALLY MEANS.  BUT FOR ME, IT PROBABLY MEANS   GIVING MY BEST TO PROVIDE FOR MY CHILDREN'S NEEDS. 

 

I really like this thread, but I too don't really know what "good parenting" actually means. I think very everyone it's probably different in actuality, but in essence is the same for everyone = doing the best you can, right?

 

BTW, thanks to all the pp's who have listed good parenting books they found helpful. I'm jotting them down. smile.gif
 

 

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#16 of 21 Old 05-01-2011, 08:08 AM
 
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I think modeling after our parents, and discussing regularily with DH has really helped us on our way. In fact, having an involved partner to bounce ideas off of, and then *both* of us sticking to what we decide has been essential.

 

I also feel like my children and their parents were literally *made* for each other. They came needing what I could give, shaped for our own unique family. No book can tell me the correct way to raise them, and I trust that my decisions (made with their best interest at heart) will not lead me far from being good parents. And that if I am being 'bad' (read my recent post re: terrorizing child with stuffed animal as discipline method) that a combination of my instinct, my husband or my child will bring me back on the right path....

 

As for mistakes... I don't know how to get over it. The small things, sure. But the big things, like regreting how long i nursed, or how my children are spaced.... I don't know.


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#17 of 21 Old 05-02-2011, 12:00 AM
 
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I have been pondering this question lately.  I've started seeing   Ultimately, I think I want to surround our family with lots of older parents/families who have good and healthy relationships between the parents and the kids.


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#18 of 21 Old 05-03-2011, 11:33 AM
 
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i second unconditional parenting.  i guess where i am atm, is that i do read-- widely-- and i have the flip side of the coin that other posters have.  i had awful parenting as a child.  i had a grandma, whom my dd is named after, who stood in direct contrast to the parents i had.  my gma listened, let me help, let me do all kinds of stuff, like disappear for hours in the woods, or build fires in the yard to cook hotdogs and stuff over.  let me use the real china, etc.  and in retrospect, what that all boils down to was that she gave me a visible and tangible demonstration of her trust in my abilities.  that was something very much missing in my home life away from her.  so that gift i try (as much as possible with an 18 month old) to pass along.  i think that's key: to trust the child to make decisions, to be able to learn from mistakes that are made.  it's much more important to grant a kid the opportunity to screw up sometimes than it is to shelter, or lecture, or oversee things.  i think also, having not been a parent for so long (i'm 37) i got to see other people work through methods that did and didn't work and learn from the accomplishments and mistakes of others.  i am a bookish type, so i've really read literally hundreds of books about children and teaching and parenting.  i mostly compared what was there to the way i felt being raised both badly by my parents and well by my grandma and contemplated what did work, what made me react and how (like.. spanking or coercion only made me sneaky.  it didn't make me 'behave' better, it only made me less interested in interacting with my folks) and thinking about the real meaning of attachment parenting-- building the relationship.  i really think that relationship can put your family on the ground to relate, participate, and communicate through anything.  that and we're anarchists, dh and i.  we've spent lots of time thinking and talking about our philosophy -- people are fundamentally equal and capable, and community is most important, and that people need to participate in decisions that affect them.  kind of all going back to grandma for me ;)

 

 

 

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#19 of 21 Old 05-04-2011, 08:54 AM
 
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The same way I become good at anything--trial and error, practice, and self-education.  One of my favorite parenting mottoes is: make new mistakes with each child.  And I don't do guilt.  I apologize, learn from it, and move on to make new mistakes.  If you don't make mistakes, you will never learn anything.  Like Edison said when asked about his failures to invent the light bulb, he now knows 900 and something (I forget the exact number) ways of not making a light bulb.

 


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#20 of 21 Old 05-04-2011, 09:18 AM
 
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This was my trajectory:

 

Pre-pregnancy: AMAzing parenting skills (albeit in my head, mostly based on what I observed around me with other parents/kids, who were obviously doing things completely wrong) --> Pregnant: Mainstream parenting boards, joining the fray of mainstream thought --> 3rd trimester: starting to think outside the box, found mdc.com, beginning to question everything especially medical delivery, read Naomi Wolfe's Mis-conceptions --> Newborn/infant: mdc mdc mdc mdc mdc, bit of isolation from mainstream parents --> Toddler: playgroups, observing different styles, cultures of parenting and seeing that hey...they're not all bad --> preschool: beginning of The Big Chilling Out, learning to choose my battles and realizing that some battles really aren't mine to fight in the first place, that chocolate cupcakes with frosting and Disney princesses aren't the devil --> Elementary school: nice blend of crunch and mainstream = crispy parenting. +mdc orngbiggrin.gif

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#21 of 21 Old 05-04-2011, 10:07 AM
 
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I love this!!! Well said.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cascadian View Post

This was my trajectory:

 

Pre-pregnancy: AMAzing parenting skills (albeit in my head, mostly based on what I observed around me with other parents/kids, who were obviously doing things completely wrong) --> Pregnant: Mainstream parenting boards, joining the fray of mainstream thought --> 3rd trimester: starting to think outside the box, found mdc.com, beginning to question everything especially medical delivery, read Naomi Wolfe's Mis-conceptions --> Newborn/infant: mdc mdc mdc mdc mdc, bit of isolation from mainstream parents --> Toddler: playgroups, observing different styles, cultures of parenting and seeing that hey...they're not all bad --> preschool: beginning of The Big Chilling Out, learning to choose my battles and realizing that some battles really aren't mine to fight in the first place, that chocolate cupcakes with frosting and Disney princesses aren't the devil --> Elementary school: nice blend of crunch and mainstream = crispy parenting. +mdc orngbiggrin.gif



 


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