One of the biggest ways my personal insecurity manifests itself is how I constantly wonder, “Am I a good parent?” I question my parenting skills every day — an inner monologue of self-doubt. It’s actually kind of neurotic, now that I think about it.
Last night I had a doctor’s appointment and had to go to the pharmacy, so I missed checking homework and putting the kids to bed. Daddy did that.
So this morning, as three boys jumped on me accusing me of not signing their permission slips on time, I found myself thinking, “I’m not a responsible parent. I should have checked their school folders last night.” And this is all before 8 a.m.!
But then I saw this awesome piece from the Huffington Post on “Great Parents,” and I sort of managed — for once — to take a deep breath.
Authors Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa Endlich Heffernan, from the blog Grown and Flown, write that “perfect parenting is a painful and elusive goal. Great parenting is within all of our grasps.” They share 12 things that great parents do, from modeling healthy marriages and strong sibling relationships, to expecting children to live up to their potential and not being afraid to offer criticism.
And they make one point that really resonated with me: “Great parents know that their world may revolve around their children, but the real one doesn’t.”
The world doesn’t revolve around my children, and that’s an important lesson for them (and me!) to learn. What was I doing last night? Taking care of myself. And what were my kids doing this morning? Learning how to take care of themselves.
Maybe sometimes good acts of parenting come out of doing something right for yourself, for your own life, versus just tending to and caring for your kids. Maybe this is what people mean by setting an example. We don’t generally think of absence — benign neglect, as my mother calls it — as a source of good parenting, but perhaps sometimes it is.
So maybe I wasn’t failing my kids by missing bedtime or blowing off those permission slips. Maybe I was being a great parent by putting my own needs first for once.
What about you? In what ways do you feel like you might be a great parent? Take a look at this list and weigh in. It’s really good for everyone’s self-esteem to focus on the things you are doing WELL versus just the things you need to IMPROVE.
Smile. Deep breath. You rock. You”ll get there, we all will.
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