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After reading the title, did you ask yourself whether you’re a good parent or a bad parent? If so, what kinds of things did you immediately think about when coming to a conclusion?
Do you feel like a bad parent because you haven’t given your child enough attention today? Because you’re struggling to get everything done? Because you haven’t been as patient as you’d like to be? Because you feel like other parents just cope better than you do? Because you feel like other parents are judging you? Perhaps you did something nice just for yourself today?
Do you feel like a good parent because you’ve started the week off organised? Because you took your child out on the weekend and they had the best time? Did you cook food that your child actually ate? Or perhaps someone else told you that you’re the best mum and doing a great job?
When deciding whether you’re a good parent or a bad parent, did you base your decision just on how you’re feeling today, or did you base it on your parenting as a whole?
Are you not sure whether you’re a good parent or a bad parent? Have you ever typed something into Dr Google that started with “am I a bad parent if….?” Are you drawn to information that tells you how to be a good mum because you want to keep being a good mum, or perhaps because you feel like you’re constantly falling short?
Well I have news for you. You’re not a good parent. Gasp! But you’re also not a bad parent. Categorically speaking, that is.
What you are is a parent. You see, the word ‘parent’ is a noun. It’s a neutral word. You’re either a parent or you’re not. Despite this, we rarely use the word ‘parent’ in a neutral context. Instead, we talk about people in terms of their ‘parenting’ which is a verb that describes being or acting as a parent. It’s not neutral.
We never just say ‘she’s a mum’ or ‘he’s a dad.’ What we do is put an adjective at the front like ‘she’s such a good mum’ or ‘he’s such a hands-on dad.’ We may also say things like ‘he’s absent’ or ‘she’s too strict.’
What changes are the adjectives that describe your parenting. Sometimes you’re a ‘good’ parent. Sometimes you’re a ‘bad’ parent. Heck you can be good one minute and bad the next!
Take comfort in the fact that you can’t be described constantly with just one adjective. That’s because you can’t be the best version of yourself all day every day. You also can’t be the worst version of yourself all day every day (hallelujah!).
Parenting is about making choices, and the adjectives that describe our parenting are the direct result of those choices.
Today, whether you feel like a good parent, a bad parent, a mean parent, a generous parent, a fun parent, an emotional parent, a lazy parent, a motivated parent, or a frazzled parent, remember that you are human, not a robot.
Assess your parenting on the whole. If you’re satisfied with the bigger picture, fantastic. If you’re not, always remember that you’re only ever one choice away from changing the course of things.
Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Keep things in perspective.
Don’t let one adjective rule your life, and don’t always strive to be just one. It’s not possible.
I'm married to Sam and I'm a mother to Henry.