The Huffington Post published an article where the author Jane Dimyan Ehrenfeld makes a point that parenting doesn’t necessarily divide up into good parents and bad parents. Her article called The Secret to Good Parenting: “Divine Dissatisfaction” makes a comparison between parents and teachers—that good ones continue to learn and grow to get better at it.
While she quotes a lot of parenting experts and books, which I’m sure are very helpful, I’ve found that learning from other parents and from my own mistakes that I’ve evolved into a better parent. At my baby shower for my first born, every other present was a book on how to be a parent, like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” etc. It was as if my co-workers and friends, who were mostly moms themselves, thought I had absolutely no clue about parenting and they were worried about my skill level or interest in motherhood. So, they all thought I needed instruction manuals.
I do think there are good parents and bad parents. I have observed many of them. I remember a mom who was driving for a field trip for our middle school kids and she knocked back a couple tumblers of vodka at lunch! And she was supposed to drive the kids back to school. Yikes. That’s what I called a bad mom. A good mom who impressed me, let the kids draw with chalk on the backyard patio, build forts from boxes, sheets and tables in the living room, and encouraged creativity. A good mom, in my opinion—even if her house wasn’t perfect.
I love being a mom and I think that is the driving force. Yes, there have been rough patches between me and both my kids. Yes, I wish I could do some things over, but I wouldn’t trade a single day. The years and phases go by quickly. What I used to worry about no longer is important and there are bigger more pressing issues to stress over and help with as they become adults. “It never gets easier,” a friend told me when my kids were toddlers, “It just gets different.”
Here’s a quote from The Secret to Good Parenting: “Divine Dissatisfaction”
As a mom, I am highly attuned to the narrative of good parent/bad parent that pervades our popular discourse (more frequently it’s good mom/bad mom, but I’ll stick with parent for the sake of encouraging the important message that dads are –and should be – equals in the work of parenting). A non-exhaustive list of the ways in which this can pop up includes: You are a good parent if your kids breastfeed/you are a bad parent if they drink formula. You are a good parent if your kids are sleep trained/you are a bad parent if they don’t sleep through the night in their beds. Or, conversely, you are a good parent if your child co-sleeps/you’re a bad parent if you sleep train. You are a good parent if your kids eat organic foods/you are a bad parents if your kids eat refined sugar. You are a good parent (mom!) if you stay home with your kids/ You are a bad parent (mom!) if you work outside the home. You are a good parent/bad parent at many different levels of screen time. You are a good parent/bad parent if your kids go to public school, private school, charter school, or are homeschooled. And on and on.
But here’s the thing: it’s all ridiculous. Unless your unvaccinated kid is living in her own apartment, mainlining Mountain Dew and shrugging off school in favor of spending 24 hours a day playing Minecraft, you’re probably fine.
What do you think makes a good parent versus a bad parent?