What makes a good parent?

I’ve got something I need to say. 

Almost daily I am bombarded in ways both obvious and subtle about the “rules” of good parenting. 

Nowadays a “good” parent limits screen time- or better yet does none at all. No screen time gets her special bonus points! She feeds her children ONLY organic and healthy meals, preferably made from scratch. She does not use plastic cups and if she has to, they MUST be BPA free, of course. If she is to offer a sugary snack or God forbid, juice, an excuse must be made. “Oh this is for a special occasion.” Or “He just kept asking I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to give in.” 

A “good” parent has open-ended toys that nurture the imagination. None of that plastic singing stuff allowed! She has a firm bedtime routine that includes shutting off all screens for at least an hour before bed- that’s better for the brain. Oh, and if she has extra help when she’s home- such as a nanny or babysitter- she must thoroughly explain why. I mean, how dare she get help? She should be able to do it all!

I know I sound facetious, but I truly could go on and on about the “rules” I’ve encountered. I’m really not exaggerating here. And if you’re a parent I’m sure you can relate.

Here’s the thing- first of all, ALL of these “rules” are a sign of privilege. The fact that we can even make these decisions for our children means we have the means and time to do so. Many, many families are not awarded this privilege. 

Secondly, in my four years as a parent I’ve noticed something. It’s my love, care and attention that’s most important. It’s not perfection or following the rules- it’s being kind to myself so I can be kind to my children. It’s following their cues so I can do what’s best for our family. 

Now let me be clear- if  no screen time is important to you, awesome! If limiting sugar is important to you, awesome! If buying only organic is important to you, awesome! If open ended play is important to you, awesome! And so on and so forth. All I’m saying is- can we maybe loosen the grip a bit on those “rules” that don’t make sense for us so we can focus on what’s actually important- loving our children fully as they are?

Some days my daughter doesn’t use her iPad at all, other days she is on the iPad a lot. Some days she eats healthy and some days she eats a lot of sugar. Some days I read my son books, others he mostly plays in the living room and glances at the TV while Emmy eats her dinner and watches a movie. We have lots of singing plastic toys- we like them. I use plastic cups. I have a nanny come help when I need help or just a moment to breathe. And, I don’t buy everything organic.

I’m tired of the internal guilt I feel on a day where we watch a lot of TV or don’t eat “well enough.” I’m tired of feeling ashamed or having to make excuses because my parenting decisions don’t appear to be the cookie cutter image of what they should be. 

Im thinking- maybe it starts with us. Maybe if we stop making excuses or apologizing to other parents for our choices, and rather own them, we can shift this pressure-filled blueprint of parenthood.

In the meantime, let’s not forget it is the greatest privilege of our lives to raise our children. Let’s embrace it. Let’s enjoy it. Lets find the joy! Let’s be here now rather than squandering these precious years to these “rules.” After all, the rules are always changing anyway. Please just be you. Your children just want you anyway.❤️

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