How Do You Know if You’re a Good Parent?

Just so we’re clear, this isn’t one of those whiny, “please tell me I’m a good parent” posts. That’s not what I’m looking for here. I’m just looking for a real conversation about parenting and balance, because it’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot in the last little while.

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What is the measure of being a good parent? What separates the good from the bad, or even the average for that matter?

How does one tell the difference between making time for your own self care and being selfish?

How much importance do you put on your own happiness and well-being vs. that of your children?

How many sacrifices should a parent make?

How do you balance your own wants and needs vs. the wants and needs of your children?

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These are the questions that I find myself struggling with lately. Seems like no matter what answer I come up with, I always end up feeling like an inadequate mom. There’s never enough – time, opportunity, energy. I love my girls fiercely and would do anything for them…but I always feel like I’m coming up short, never quite giving them what they truly deserve. And yet, I feel that even if I could give them every thing they ever wanted, I’d still feel like I wasn’t doing a good enough job. I know that I’m human. I will make mistakes. I will fail them. Shit – I already have failed them — this I know. And this is something that I have a very difficult time accepting and moving on from.

Is this one of those curses of being a mom? Or is it just *my* curse?

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7 Responses

  1. I think we all deal with this and if anyone doesn’t, they are either delusional or haven’t given it any thought. All we can do is give it our best. We will mess up, guaranteed, but if we try, hopefully our kids will understand someday when they find themselves in the same boat. It is important to carve out time for you. You know when you’re going overboard. Your kids need a healthy mom. Make some quality time for both and the rest will take care of himself.

  2. I started writing a comment and it was a post-sized comment, soI’ll revise and keep it short.
    1) You don’t know. Tips: consistency, allow them to make mistakes and realize for themselves how to fix it, don’t be too over-protective, Love them unconditionally, enforce good manners and acts of thoughtfulness. The rest is really in a grey zone – we are all different!
    2) It is important for kids to view themselves as a separate person from us, Take time to do hobbies/activities/socialize without the kids, and not just when they aren’t in the schedule. They will look up to you as a well-rounded person. I recently heard someone say this – “When I was little my Mom went to yoga and she was always so happy when she came home, she was so beautiful. Her vibrancy then has inspired me today”. Selfishness is deciding there is no room in your life for kids. Being who you are, is not selfish, it is honest.
    3) Happiness – hmmm. it is a state of mind, easily attained no matter what circumstances a person is in. You live happiness,
    4) Sacrifices. I look at Wayne Gretzky’s parents driving him to the rink at 4:00 in the morning for his passion of hockey. He appreciates that! I bet they never saw it as a sacrifice (see #3). I sacrifice my paycheck to take my daughter to soccer when it is during work hours. Could I use the money? yes, but I am happy to see her play MORE.
    5) The balance in parenting is just that..balancing, juggling, sliding into home plate on a bunt. Everyone is different, everyone needs something different. Be honest and make compromises that everyone can live with!

    Oops it was still long. Sorry!

  3. Not having kids, I don’t have any good answers. However, as a person who supports others in their own growing and healing process, I know that I can only take as good care of others as I take of myself. It’s the old “I can’t give from an empty cup” syndrome. At the times that I deplete myself in caring for others, I’m miserable in myself, which makes me a terrible support for them – it’s a lose/lose situation.

    I think that to some extent it has to be the same with raising kids. With different parameters, of course!

  4. I believe it’s all balance and you’ll never feel like you’ve done enough, made the right choices and were a completely good parent–ever. It’s a mom thing, I think. BUT…I think it’s something that stems from divorce, too, because you already feel like you’ve failed them in a BIG way once…so every little thing is suddenly looked at under that failure microscope. I look at how my kids behave–are they respectful of others who are different? Do they bully other kids? Are their grades good? How do they treat those that are helpless (like kittens and puppies and babies)? How do they treat each other (within sibling reason)? How do they treat their friends? How do they react/treat me? I guess that’s the only true measure…especially when they think you’re not looking/listening!! Do the best you can…there is seriously nothing else you can do…period!
    Sorry it doesn’t answer your question…but I think the fact you wonder and worry you’re already doing a heck of a lot more than some less-than-stellar parents are doing!!!!! *hugs*

  5. I have no answers to any of those questions!

    Every morning I get up, I do my best. I trust my instinct and then I pray – hard that they will be ok!

    There are days I know I mess up but I think there are more where I can see I am doing ok – when we get their reports, when they say please and thank you, when the stand up for themselves and others.

    But its still the riskiest thing we do!

  6. Girl, we ALL go through this. They didn’t invent the term “mommy guilt” for nothing.

    All we can do is our best, teach them how to bounce back, and love them as “fiercely” as you do.

  7. Sunshine, there are two books I”m going to suggest. You can likely find them at your library.

    I’m Okay, You’re a Brat!: Setting the Priorities Straight and Freeing You From the Guilt and Mad Myths of Parenthood by Susan Jeffers

    This book focuses on teaching you to recognize that you are not the be-all and end-all when it comes to your kids. That there a million(!!!) other factors that contribute to your children being the people they are, that it’s not all up to you.

    Stunned: The New Generation of Women Having Babies, Getting Angry, and Creating a Mothers’ Movement by Karen Bridson

    Because I don’t think you are so much talking about your concerns about parenting as you are about *mothering*. T is right: there isn’t daddy guilt, there’s mummy guilt. And this book focuses on the societal forces that contribute to thinking that we – as women, as feminists – should be able to do it all.

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