Being The Best Parent You Can Be

How can you be the best parent you can be?  How do you know that you are doing the best job when others are doing things differently?

I thought about this question when reading extensively on what makes for great parenting and how best we can enrich the lives of our children.  It can be a little overwhelming as a parent to be bombarded with the ‘best’ way to get the very ‘best’ out of your child and do the very ‘best’  job that is humanly possible. In perusing the plethora of information, one can be forgiven for starting to feel a little inadequate with some of their own parenting practises. Am I giving them a good enough diet, are they reading enough, is there too much television, are we playing enough board games, is there too much computer time, too little free time, too much free time, enough structure, enough down time? Does it matter that the other parents limit soft drink to once a month? Should I worry that my complete refusal to hold up flash cards in front of the face of an 8 month old will leave him struggling through early literacy?

What I have come to conclude however, is that we are who we are. We can alter, modify, learn and enhance, but ultimately, if we allow ourselves to be the parent we inherently need to be, then surely we are being the best parent for our children.

We dont have to be  like all the other parents at the kinder drop off. We dont have to be like all the parents we see on TV.  Likewise we dont have to be the same parent every expert or parent blogger tells us to be.  We need to stop comparing and get back to enjoying.

I have some confessions to make. There are actually lots of things about parenting that I dont like. Despite the adoration I have for my children, I dont always like doing certain things with them . I dont particularly like hitting golf balls in the back yard. I quickly get bored of watching a Thomas the Tank Engine train going around and around and around a circular wooden track. I really dont enjoy being at kids parties.  I hate going to the movies to watch a childs  movie.  I dont go to the movies often enough to waste it on a cartoon!

But I am happy to read lots of picture books, and have been known to spend hours (maybe an exageration) reading them over and over again. I would also rather sing songs with my 20 month old than play with toy cars. I am more than happy to watch my kids play footy even in the early hours of a freezing Sunday morning. My husband loves kids movies (well maybe not loves but enjoys). He is also great at playing all manner of sports in the backyard and can do it for hours on end. And he cant sing, so he doesnt. Although I have been witness to a few singstar renditions with son number 1 lately!

You see we can’t all be the mum who puts their hand up for canteen duty. We cant all be the mum who loves the challenges of being on the kinder fundraising committee. We cant all be the mum who has freshly baked muffins hot out of the oven in time for the kids arrival home from school.

Likewise we cant always be bothered listening to a long winded recital of a lunchtime conversation that occurred between three 7 yr old boys. We cant always be willing to put up with a toddler feeding himself yoghurt and flicking it around the kitchen. We cant always be delighted by the gleam in the eye of a child making mud pies, finger painting or partaking in water play.

Despite these ‘dislikes’ about certain parenting practices, we are still good parents….and more importantly, we are still the best parents we can be. If we stick to who we are, stick to the values we hold dear and parent accordingly, then we will be giving our children the best of us. Certainly parenthood opens us up for change and this can often be a great and rewarding outcome, but we must not force ourselves to change who we are in order to be the “perfect” parent. We cannot all do every aspect of parenting that we are told is helpful, good for their development, stimulating and fun. We can seek out help, support, advice and guidance when it is needed, but we do not need to compare every parenting practice of our own to that of every other parent.

So just when you were feeling guilty about not wanting to pull out the paints, sit and watch another trick on the scooter or crawl around on all fours pretending you are an elephant, have a think about all the other times that you have had the energy, inclination and enthusiasm to do a myriad of other things that have, and will continue,  to enrich your child life.

What are the things you are really good at doing with your kids, and what are those things you try and avoid, or do reluctantly because you think you should?

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Kylie

    I am sure we all as parents try to tell ourselves this exact thing every single day Martine, but it is often hard to believe in your own mind. Thank you for reinforcing the fact that we are all doing a fantastic job in raising our children in the best way we possibly can x

  2. Clare

    Loved this blog Marty. I really don’t like the kids getting the paints out as it makes such a mess – but today I let them and they had so much fun. Of course, I was left with all the cleaning up when they went off to play with their friends but I think it was worth it. We should remember that we are people as well as parents, and we are doing a great job. As long as the kids are happy, we must be doing something right! As a wise woman (namely Martine Oglethorpe) once told me, us Mums are constantly filled with guilt over our children; we shouldn’t be!

    1. Martine

      Thanks Clare, and sometimes doing things with our kids is determined by our mood, energy levels etc. There are days when I may get the paints out too knowing how much fun they will have and will be prepared to clean up, and there are other days when it is the last thing in the world I feel like doing…so I dont! And thanks for reminding me about my next post which may be something to do with the good ole ‘mother guilt’!

  3. Ruth Stephens

    So true Martine, I think we take for granted what we do well with our kids and all too often focus on other people’s strengths (which are often my weaknesses) ! I have decided over time, we can only be who we are. We can educate ourselves, get advice and work hard to do the best we can, but we are human and we are not perfect. Saying that though but we are doing the best job we can in parenting and our kids appreciate us – well sometimes!!!.

    1. Martine

      Absolutely…and they may not always appreciate us now…but hopefully with time…..

  4. Liss

    Very comforting Marty.
    As a first time mother surrounded by EXTREMELY COMPETENT mothers of several children I often find myself thinking…I don’t sing songs enough (unless early Madonna & Boy George count as songs for kids)…I don’t play pattacake for endless hours….I don’t read enough kids books….I don’t play peeka boo for 3 hours a day…. and I spend a lot of time second guessing myself and wondering if we’re doing everything right??? What I have done is talk to lots of other mothers & it is amazing how once you have had a child they are more honest with you about just how tough it can be at times… Comparing your experiences to others is necessary to understand we all have good & bad days but comparing parenting techniques can be dangerous.
    Every kid is different… Everyones situation is different…. and we do the best we can. The best we can is enough & all a kid needs.
    The smiles & giggles let you know you’re doing ok at the toughest job you’ll ever take on.

    1. Martine

      Well said Liss. And of course Boy George and Madonna are appropriate for babies! Any interaction is good interaction. And you are right, talking to other mothers is great, as long as it is for support. We are way harder on ourselves than we need to be, and the smiles and giggles certainly tell you you are doing a good job.

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