I have been thinking about this for a few days now, ever since I shared a post about the family that was given a “well-behaved child” discount on their restaurant bill. I was not a fan of the idea, for a variety of reasons (and for the record, all four of my kids are and have always been a joy at restaurants) but opinions were mixed when we discussed it on Facebook. One common pattern that I saw emerge was that people in favor of the discount generally thought that it promoted/encouraged/rewarded “good parenting.”
That doesn’t sit right with me.
For one thing, I don’t judge my parenting based on how “well-behaved” my children are. What does well-behaved even mean? More than that though, is the fact that I have friends who are amazing parents, whose children (again, for a variety of reasons) are not what society at large would deem “well-behaved.” And let’s just be honest for a minute: It’s easy to parent when kids are being sweet and compliant. It’s during the tough moments that we see what kind of parents we are.
So then I started thinking… maybe that’s how you spot a good parent…. how they react and respond and interact with their children when they’re having a hard time. I quickly rejected that as well though, because lots of great parents (re: ALL great parents) have had moments with their kids that they wish they could do over, moments that they’ve lost their cool, or lost their patience. Moments that they need to apologize for.
Then I thought: a good parent is an imperfect parent. A parent who is real. A parent who realizes and admits that she makes mistakes and vows to do better. A parent who isn’t afraid to learn better ways. A parent who loves her child unconditionally and without question. A parent who isn’t about trying to mold her child into something of her own choosing, but someone who accepts and supports and embraces who that child is RIGHT NOW. A parent who realizes that a child is not a second class citizen but a person, worthy and deserving of the same gentleness, kindness and respect that you would give to any other loved one.
But a good parent is all of that and so. much. more.
So I asked the question, “What is your definition of a good parent”? on my Facebook page, and I was not disappointed with your responses. I am sure that every single blogger says this, but I seriously have the best people reading my page! I had a difficult time narrowing it down, but these were some of my favorites. I agree with every single one of these beautiful definitions (not one of which includes the manner in which your children conduct themselves at IHOP ;)):
A parent who not only allows but encourages and assists a child in being exactly who they want and need to be, and then loves that person unconditionally. ~ Lisa J
Someone who is not afraid to learn. From their children. From their failures. From their past. From those around them… ~ Alysha B
Someone whose priority is to really hear their child, to support them in getting their needs met and supporting them in their passions. ~ Sylvia T
Embracing our children for exactly who they are and where they are developmentally. ~ Ashley K
Allowing them to be who THEY ARE, not what a parent wants them to be. I have no need to be a puppeteer. I learn as much from them as they do from me. ~ Heidi S
Responsive, respectful, connected, loving ~ Fiona C
Allowing each child to just BE, celebrating them and knowing their perfection in each moment. ~ Lisa H
Being a good parent is…. Knowing I don’t have to strive for perfection! ~ Amie M
A good parent is one whose children feel wanted and secure, know that they are free to be themselves, have a safe place from which to explore, and know real love from the example they are taught. ~ Heather G
Being willing to figuratively (and literally, if needed) lay down my life for my child. ~ Paula G
Someone who is committed to constantly learning and growing for and with their children. Someone who can take a hard, honest look at themselves and choose to model what they want to see in their kids. Someone who give grace to their kids and themselves. ~ Rachel C
Treating your children as you would like to be treated. ~ On The Train With Sophie
Thank you, for being such honest, real, and yes…. GOOD parents. You all inspire me, and encourage me to do better.