I dont care if you smack or breastfeed: What really makes for great parents

As parents it seems there are 2 things most of us are pretty good at, and that is feeling guilty and judging, both ourselves and others. As a parent blogger and family counsellor, there are some things I think we should all be concerned about and some things that we should leave up to the judgement of the individual and their families based on their own values and what it is they see as important to the running of their households.

So for me, these are examples of some of the things that we shouldn’t be so concerned about, the things that within reason the individual has the ability to decide without having to defend or justify:

 

  • Whether you breast or bottle feed your baby
  • Whether you co-sleep or control cry
  • Whether you have smacked or have success with star charts
  • Whether you let your kids watch ‘M’ rated movies or use flash cards from the moment they can see
  • Whether you feed them organic, preservative, colour, additive free food or give them take-away twice a week
  • Whether you home school or privately educate
  • Whether you’re a full time worker or stay at home mum
  • Whether you grow your own apples, stew and puree or whether you use tinned fruit
  • Whether your kids are outside playing cops and robbers or inside playing computer games.

Now I certainly have opinions on these such things and I may even suggest making alterations to your choices if it is not doing the following things……which to me are the most important elements of parenting, and the things we should all be concerning ourselves with, both as a society and as fellow parents.

I do care about

  • Your children being respectful to other people and to you as a parent
  • Your children knowing that you are in charge and there are some things that are not negotiable
  • Your household, whilst not perfect or stress free, is a place where for the most part there is joy, stability and security
  • Your children are valued, loved and cared for unconditionally
  • You provide an environment where children are encouraged to be independent, responsible and resilient
  • Your children have the boundaries they need and that parents have the skills, and ability to enforce these boundaries on a regular basis.

These are the important aspects of parenting. How you achieve these outcomes can vary greatly, depending on your values, personal principals, ideals and circumstances, but achieving them is not always easy. It is never done perfectly. It is never without its challenges. And sometimes it is not without a little help. Sometimes we all need that extra pair of eyes to help us see more clearly. Being a parent can sometimes render us ‘too close’ to the situation and leave us gasping for a clearer perpective to help us mesh our own personal practicalities with the greater ideals we hold for our children.

There seems to be a lot of discussion, judging and criticising of parents and some of the choices they make, when sometimes we need to be reminded that there is more than one way to effectively parent. Whatever choices you make on a daily basis are exactly that, your choices. As long as those choices allow you to make the bigger picture a possibility, then that is all anyone should be concerned with, both as fellow parents and as a society.

 

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This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. I need to have this blog post framed and put on my wall to stop feeling guilty and yes…stop judging. Excellent post Martine!

    1. Thanks Shelly….you are not alone!

  2. I would add that parents need to try and share values, life experiences, and personal hopes with children. These are some of the best real life lessons that children can ever receive, and this sharing should start way before they hit school, and continue as they grow up. Colin

    1. Absolutely, and a good deal many other things….it is just that we need to keep some things as personal preferences which we shouldnt need to always defend. And yes anything that is taught early has a far greater chance of sticking!

  3. perfect … and thanks! xt

  4. Martine I have to say that I found your number 4 dot point to be quite judgemental! As one who shoved flash cards.. Hear hear to the qualities you care about, I agree completely.

    1. thanks and point taken, will amend as that wasnt what I intended 🙂

  5. I agree with you on the non-essential issues! Interestingly, I think that these tend to be the areas of most debate. People are likely to openly criticise you bottle-feeding your baby (yes, I had people openly tell me that “breast is best” etc), or feeding them jar food – but few people will tell you that you don’t love your children unconditionally. I wonder if it is the more visible things that people choose to pick on?

    1. Yes maybe it is the more visible things, or maybe it is unfortunately to get approval for their own decisions which may differ. Important to trust in ourselves and the decisions we make without feeling the need to justify to others.

  6. What a wonderful post. There is definitely too much judgement when it comes to parenting and especially when it is coming from ourselves.

    1. Yes and that judgement of ourselves is usually the harshest of all!

  7. Yes! So true. Let’s not argueon the minor details cause what’s the point. Differences is what makes humanity beautiful.

    1. Yes difference is what makes humanity beautiful…thanks Jess

  8. Fabulous post Martine. Funny how the things that don’t really matter are the ones that provoke so much debate.

    1. Thanks Julie. There is nothing wrong with a little bit of debate on certain issues I suppose, but not when it means you are purely defending a decision or personal practise when there are actually no right or wrongs. It then becomes a bit tedious. 🙂

  9. There’s nothing more that I can say here… because you’ve said it all so well. Brilliant!

  10. So insightful Martine. Sometimes I feel guilty that I don’t focus a lot on directly teaching my kids stuff like flash cards etc. But at 2 and 4 they have had plenty of encouragement and opportunity to explore their world and they are two bright happy kids as a result.

    1. And if you have a happy and contented kid, then you have no need to worry!

  11. Great post. You hit the nail right on the head with what does matter

  12. Love this!! Sometimes we focus on all the should/should nots that we forget where we are going…and what the goals of parenting are. Thanks you for the reminder.

  13. I think you hit the nail on the head there! It’s okay for everyone to have an opinion, but it’s so important for everyone to respect everyone else’s opinion whether they agree or not.

  14. I really didn’t think I was a judgey type, but as I read that top list I was wounding where this was going and being very judgey, imagining the parent that did all of those things, not just maybe one or two of them.

    Then I got down to the second list and just nodded and nodded, because they are they things that we want for all children. Security, love and affection in a (mainly) stress free home.

  15. I love this post! In light of current debates in the media it’s nice to see someone highlighting some important character qualities that we WOULD like to see in today’s children. Thanks for sharing such an informative post.

  16. Your post highlights how much more important the underlying values and principles are than external behaviour. if we get the foundations right, then our children should be able to use those values and principles in future as tools for making decisions about almost anything they may have to face. Learning merely about right and wrong behaviours is very situational and may not be transferable. You’ve made me rethink how I parent my little ones. Thank you.

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