Are You Good Enough? What Makes A Good Parent?
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated March 25, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Fawley
It is normal to worry about whether or not you are a "good enough" parent. It is likely you have never been in a position to feel totally responsible for someone else's future before parenthood (there is a lot riding on this!), and this naturally comes with its share of anxiety. Social media and the internet has allowed for more sharing (and comparing) information as ever before, and it seems that today's parents are questioning their parenting skills more than any other parents in history as a result. But how do you know whether or not you are doing the best for your kids? Let us take a look at what makes an effective parent.
The History Of Parenting
The history of parenting has depended a lot on what were the societal expectations of that time. Parents have consistently been tasked with the survival of their children, but parents have taken on different roles throughout history too (provider, teacher, disciplinarian, taskmaster). As society has evolved, there has been a greater emphasis on parents to entertain their kids, do excessive crafts and activities, maintain a model home, and protect children emotionally and physically at extensive lengths. This is sometimes referred to as "helicopter parenting" because it describes the parenting "hovering".
Parents have described pressure in today's culture to define success as raising a child to impressive adulthood - coupled with a memorable and magical childhood. Kids not only need to have good character but also rock-star grades, scholarship-worthy athletic skills, and photo albums documenting the scores of projects, vacations, and memories made as they grew up. A parent's identity is wrapped up in the success (or failure) of their child. It seems that in this time of competition, there is pressure felt to be an over-achiever.
These are not realistic expectations for every child to meet, however, and can interrupt processes of healthy childhood development, such as the need to free to make mistakes in order to learn, and the need to be accepted for who we are.
What Makes A Good Parent?
With so many pressing expectations of parents these days, it's hard to decipher public parenting opinion from research-based facts. If you're looking to raise an emotionally healthy person with a strong character, research suggests some of the following behaviors:
You love your child. This sounds obvious, and for the vast majority of parents, this is a given, even when your child's behavior is frustrating and hard to cope with. But how are you communicating this? It is important to separate a child's behavior from their person so that they understand you love them even when they get in trouble for something they've done. Saying "you are wrong" to a child who makes a poor decision is much different than saying "you made the wrong choice".
You give your child food, clothes, and shelter. Providing for your child's basic needs is a hallmark of parenting. There can be pressure to go above and beyond in these areas if you are acting to "keep up" with other parents, but your child needs most if the sense that they "are" enough, no matter what they have.
You meet your child's emotional needs. This does not mean you must spend every moment of every day with your focus only on your child. But it does mean that you spend quality one-on-one time with them, nurturing their heart and showing them that they are valued and important to you. Some experts say that 30 minutes of undivided attention (meaning you are not also on your phone or watching TV or completing another task) is beneficial for your child. This also means that you validate your child's feelings. If they are crying, do not tell them they do not have a good reason to cry, comfort them. Feelings are always ok, but you can teach your children healthy ways to cope with them (for example, do not hit someone when you are angry). Parents have to be a good example when it comes to managing feelings in a healthy way too.
You set limits when appropriate. Children need to learn eventually that they will not always be able to have their own way. Setting limits with children is an effective way to help them learn to be a part of greater society. A child's brain does not have the capacity to regulate itself very well, so kids need to be shielded from things that are not good for them, like too much TV, sugar, or video games, for example. As a parent, you have to balance giving kids a chance to learn and experiment with helping them learn healthy behaviors by sometimes limiting what the child wants to do.
You allow them to safely fail. It hurts to watch your child get hurt but it also develops resilience which is critical for appropriate functioning later in life. If you rescue your child in every challenging situation because you believe "good parents" prevent their children from experiencing emotional pain, you are actually robbing them of a growth experience they need to have. When your child tells you about a difficulty that happened, have a conversation about what they can learn from it.
Let them be "bored" a little. Unstructured time has been showed to be very positive for a child's brain development. Do not feel like you have to provide an activity constantly. Children are naturally very creative, imaginative, and experimental, and it is very healthy for parents to encourage children to entertain themselves for a bit of time every day. If you live in a place where your children can go outside for some fresh air and to encourage them to move their bodies even better.
You may have heard it said that "It takes a village to raise a child." It is true that parenting without support of other people is very hard, in essence you have to be absolutely everything to your child if you do not have other adults to help share the responsibility. Many cultures throughout history have shared responsibilities for raising children in different ways. In our society, having a "village" can simply allow you to peek into the reality of other families and normalize your own struggles. No one is a "perfect" parent because we are all just doing our best. Having support allows you to have concrete information about what has been working or not for other parents and a place to vent frustration about parenting (instead of taking out frustration on your child).
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What qualities make a good parent?
What makes a good parent? This is a question where you'll probably get many different answers to, and there is no definitive answer. However, there are qualities that most will agree that a good parent should have. Here are some of these qualities:
- A good parent is one who is communicative. Even when they're busy, they still make the time to talk to their child. There are clear rules established. A parent will talk to their child in a way they can understand.
- Good parents love their children, no matter what. Regardless of what path their kid will take, a parent will still love their child regardless.
- A good parent has rules and boundaries, but there is flexibility. An authoritative parenting style is popular for being that perfect balance, and a parent who can master that fine balance is a good parent.
- A good parent will admit they're wrong. Parents aren't gods, and many of them are flawed people. A good parent will realize when they made a mistake and lost their temper. A good parent takes the blame whenever they mess up, but also has expectations out of their child.
What is the definition of a good parent?
This definition is subjective, but a good parent can be a person who wants to grow along with their child. They want to protect their child, but also let their child explore their world. A good parent has rules and guidelines for their child to follow, but there is some input from the child as well. If you're a parent-to-be, we suggest you read more about parenting and figure out what being a good parent means for you.
What skills do you need to be a good parent?
Here are some skills that can make you a good parent.
- Emotion control. You can control your emotions when you're stressed, angry, or upset. For example, you can express your anger in a healthy manner rather than yelling at your child.
- You're someone who can write down a set of rules and stick to them. You're good at establishing these rules or boundaries and enforcing them, but you're always open to input from your child.
- A good parent is one who is open-minded. You're someone who realizes you aren't perfect, and you're going to make mistakes. To you, you want to be someone who learns from your mistakes and grows up to be a stronger person as a result.
- You're good at money management. You have enough money for your kids' future, to pay the bills, and have some left over for you and your child to make some memories.
These are just a few examples of good skills. If there are some skills you want to brush up on, perhaps seek help from a counselor or therapist.
What makes a strong family?
A strong family is one who is communicative. They may be people who stay together, but they can also be people who work apart but still stay in touch. A strong family is supportive towards one another, even if everyone has differing goals. Someone who has a strong family can rely on them for support whenever possible.
What Does a Good Mother Do?
A good mother is nurturing, but has a list of expectations for her child. Although a mother may have rules, she still loves her child and will do anything for them. Above all else, a mother is loving no matter what. This is a subjective question, but these are a few qualities most will agree on.
What is the best parenting style?
Authoritative parenting is considered to be the best parenting style. Authoritative parents tend to strike that perfect balance between being too permissive and being too strict. There's rules, but there's also room for your child to explore life on their own and let themselves fall every once in a while. You may not spoil your child, but you still reward them on occasion. There are rules, but there's a reason behind those rules.
What causes poor parenting?
Poor parenting is often passed down. For example, someone who abuses their children may have been abused when they were kids. While some people who were the products of poor parenting may try to be the opposite, many people don't fall too far from their parents.
Other times, poor parenting may be because of an outside force. For example, if you don't give your kids attention because of your job.
Regardless of the cause, it's important you work hard to change how you parent. Good parents can be people who learn from their mistakes and change, and it's never too late to change.
How can I be a better parent without yelling?
Being a parent is hard. You may be tired, and you feel like your kid isn't listening. When your kid does something they shouldn't, you sometimes just want to scream at them, and plenty of parents do so. However, yelling can have some negative consequences. It not only shows weakness, but it can make your child's behavior worse. Plus, it teaches your child to yell at people when they're angry.
Here are some ways you can be the best parent possible without yelling.
- Discuss consequences for your child's actions beforehand, and enact those consequences should it happen.
- Try positive reinforcement. Reward your child every time they do something you want them to do. Positive reinforcement doesn't mean you have to take them out for ice cream every day; it can be a word of praise.
- When you feel your emotions about to come out, retreat to a private space. Let your emotions out and come back to your child with a cool head.
- You're not perfect, and you may yell. Apologize and say that it's wrong to yell, but also don't invalidate what your child has done.
- If you have anger issues, seek help from a therapist.
What are the 4 types of parenting styles?
The four parenting styles are authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved, and authoritative. In order to be effective parents, being mindful of your style is important. Let's take a look at these styles.
This is a strict parent. An authoritarian parent is one who rules with an iron fist. "Because I said so," is a common justification for all their rules, and when a child breaks the rules, they're going to be punished. An authoritarian parent may have high expectations, and it takes a lot for them to consider bending their rules. Authoritarian parents tend to not be as nurturing, and it's a controversial style to say the least.
This is the complete opposite of authoritarian. This is when a parent is lax with their rules and the kid is the one who usually decides. A permissive parent is much more nurturing, but they usually don't give their children guidance. Permissive parenting is associated with spoiled kids and parents who think their children can do nothing wrong.
An uninvolved parent is similar to a permissive parent, where the child has lots of freedom, but there's little to no nurturing. A permissive parent can be a child's best friend, but an uninvolved parent is distant and not communicative. Sometimes, an uninvolved parent doesn't care about their child, and other times, they may be extremely busy.
Authoritative parenting is considered to be the balance between all parenting styles. There are rules, but these rules have an explanation and sometimes, the rules can change over time. A parent has expectations, but there's a reason behind those expectations, and they can change. If a child has a different goal, the parent may change their style. An authoritative parent doesn't belittle their child, but they don't talk to them like they're an adult. They know how to talk to a child so that they can understand it.
Styles can be fluid. Some parents' styles may fluctuate depending on their mood. With authoritative parenting, sometimes the more balanced form of parenting may fall a little off-balance.
What are 5 traits of a healthy family?
Every family is going to have its flaws, but there are many ways you can figure out if your family is otherwise healthy. These include:
- A healthy family is communicative. They always stay in touch with one another regardless of distance.
- A healthy family will show love towards each other. Even when there is conflict, a family will work together to resolve that conflict and move on from it.
- Families are collaborative. Even when they have differing goals, they'll still work together to build each other up.
- Healthy families will accept each other regardless of difference. When there is a "black sheep," the family will still love them and the different member will still be a part of the family.
- They're supportive of a family member when one needs help. From financial support to letting a family member stay over for the night, healthy families will be there for each other no matter what.
What are the 6 qualities of family strength?
Six qualities of family strength include the following:
- They express appreciation and affection for one another.
- They spend enjoyable time together.
- They are committed to one another's happiness and general welfare.
- They have a strong sense of spiritual well-being, meaning they are using guiding values for their cause.
- They have positive communication patterns where they talk in loving, respectful ways.
- They manage stress and crises very easily, and they pull together in tough times.
What are good family quotes?
Some good family quotes include the following:
"I sustain myself with the love of my family"-Maya Angelou
"A family is in place where minds come in contact with one another." -Buddha
"We must take care of our families wherever we find them."-Elizabeth Gilbert
"When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching-they are your family." -Jimmy Butcher
There are many more quotes out there too for you to use.
How would you describe a good mother?
A good mom is one who is caring, loving, and someone who accepts their kid for who they are. They are someone who doesn't try to change their kid, but instead learn and understand what makes them tick, so they can be happier as well.
A good mom doesn't rule with an iron fist, but with one that is tucked in a velvet glove at times. Discipline only when necessary, and whenever it's needed. A good mother is strong in even the hardest of times, and does what's best for her family.
How can I be a strong mother?
To be a strong mother, you should be there for your kids, offer advice, and listen to their problems. Don't be quick to judge, but instead, learn to accept them.
If you're stressed out, take a break. Give yourself personal time, and don't forget about improving your wellness.
Don't be permissive, but instead, you should try to be involved with your children, and try to be as impactful as you can be.
What defines a mom?
A mom is a female parent. That's the technical definition. However, we all have our own definitions as to what being a mother truly means. For many, a mom is someone who provides unconditional love and loves you for who you are. They're someone you can go to whenever you're having problems. A mom may have rules, but she does it for you to learn. These are just a few ways you can define what a mom is.
What is lazy parenting?
The term "lazy parenting," sounds negative. You may imagine a parent not being there for their child and instead kicking back and watching some Netflix. However, lazy parenting can be a good thing. Lazy parenting involves letting your child discover themselves while you kick back. Your child can go outside and explore while you relax a little bit.
Lazy parenting realizes that your kid needs to explore and learn from their mistakes. This doesn't mean you don't help your child, but instead lets your child help themselves first.
Why authoritative parenting is bad?
Authoritative parenting isn't bad; in fact, it's one of the best parenting styles. You may be confusing it with authoritarian parenting, which involves a parent who is overly strict and sticks to the rules no matter what.
On the opposite end of authoritarian is permissive parenting, which involves a parent letting their kid do whatever they feel like without consequence.
Authoritative parent is a happy balance between both extremes. You're a parent who has rules and consequences, but you listen to your child. You will let your child have freedom, and even let them fall every once in a while. As your child grows, your parenting grows with them. Authoritative parenting is a learning experience for everyone involved. An authoritative parent isn't a perfect parent, but they can be a great parent.
The only bad part about authoritative parenting is that it can sometimes be hard to have that balance.
What is dismissive parenting?
Dismissive parenting is known as uninvolved parenting. This is when a parent provides food, water, shelter, and other basic needs for their children, but they're not involved with their child much. They may make no demands of their children, and they aren't involved with their child's life.
Sometimes, this can happen unintentionally. For example, a parent who has to work all the time, and is too tired to spend time with their child. Other times, the parent goes out of their way to avoid the child and doesn't show any affection.
A child of a dismissive parent may end up being withdrawn and have a hard time staying out of trouble. Some children end up learning how to take care of themselves early. Either way, most can agree that this is not a good parenting style.
If you do not feel like you have a supportive "village" around you and you need help figuring out how to find one, if you struggle with social relationships, or are having a hard time parenting, consider seeking supportive online counseling through Betterhelp.com. You will likely find that if you care for yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically, you will have more energy to act like a capable and healthy parent.
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