Parent guilt seems to be at an all-time high. Social media, tabloid ‘gotcha’ moments, and endless blog articles outlining our mistakes seem to be leaving us feeling dispirited, unmotivated, and feeling like failures.
As I talk with parents around the country, however, I’m full of optimism. Sure, we can all find ways to improve. But that’s life! If we look for it, we can find ways to improve everything: our eating, our fitness, our driving, our gardening… everything! In my parenting workshops in corporations, schools, and community groups, and in one-on-one parenting coaching sessions I am seeing good parents who are doing way better than they think, and they’re raising children who are going to make them proud. I am also seeing too many parents worry, stress, and get anxious about whether or not they are doing a good enough job as parents.
Here are 10 reasons you’re probably doing a better job as a parent than you think:
You listen when your child wants your attention
This may be the most important thing we can do to be good parents. Our willingness to acknowledge our children, hear them, and show them that they are worthy of our attention is central to their development of resilience.
You show that you care
We show we care by hugging our children, telling them they matter to us, paying attention to their (often boring) stories, and being there for them.
You set limits
While most of us can improve the way we set limits, most parents I meet are making a significant effort to set boundaries for their children. While too many rules leads to too many problems, research tells us that our children thrive and feel safe when they know what is ok to do, and what is not ok.
You show an interest in their friends
Our children feel validated when they see us taking an interest in their relationships. If you can name your children’s besties (and maybe even their parents), you’re probably doing ok.
You show an interest in their schooling
Children do better at school when parents are invested in their academic success (so long as we don’t over-play it and get too controlling). This is especially the case in high school.
You give them whatever extra-curricular activities you can afford
Do children need extra-curricular activities to thrive? No they don’t. However, most parents I meet recognise that sport, music, art, drama, science, church, or any other extra-curricular activity their children can participate in has the potential to enrich their lives, improve their academic performance, give them opportunities for growth, and expand their social circles. And most parents I meet are stretching themselves to give their children those chances – because they love their children, and because they’re doing the best they can for them.
You console your child when s/he is upset
While there are some parents who get mad or brush their children off when they’re upset, most parents are eager to embrace their children and show compassion and understanding when they are emotional, struggling, or stressed.
You read to them
The positive outcomes related to this one single activity are numerous. Most parents I talk to relish the chance to read with their children (especially their younger children) as regularly as they’re able.
You spend extra time with them, just because you want to
It might be after school, or just before bed as you lay with heads together on the pillow. Perhaps it’s Sunday morning on a bike ride or stroll through the park. You like being with your children and you find extra time to be together because you love them.
You say sorry
When you get it wrong, you do what you can to preserve and strengthen the relationship.
You tell them you love them regularly, and they can feel it
If your children feel your love and know it is sincere and unconditional they are experiencing one of the most vital protective factors for a resilient life that you can offer.
We all know that when it comes to parenting we can all do better, whether it’s reducing our personal digital pre-occupation, speaking more kindly and calmly, or being less punitive. But if you can say ‘Yep, I do that’ to most of the things on this list (and if your children would agree with you), then chances are that your kids are going to turn out just fine.
And your parenting?
You’re probably doing a better job than you think.