Why I’m a Good Enough Parent (and So are You)

I’ll admit it. I’m a habitual preschool-snack forgetter. I’m also a disaster when it comes to remembering to turn in permission slips, enforcing limits on my kids’ screen time, and following through with threats when they don’t pick up their toys (“Fine, I’ll give them to kids who’ll actually appreciate them,” anyone?).

I don’t make my 5 year old wear socks because he hates the way they feel (gross, I know).

I tell each of my kids that they’re my favorite.

I’m guilty of dropping the occasional F-bomb within earshot of my kids, then wondering why my 3 year old has such colorful language.

Some might call me a bad parent for these reasons (and others). And truth be told, there was a time not so long ago when I might have agreed. I’ve recently had a change of heart.

We live in a culture that seems to be asking more and more of parents. It seems impossible, sometimes, to keep up with the ever-changing expectations we’re subject to, from breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding to paying to college vs. making kids contribute to everything in between.

A little book sits on my nightstand to remind me of the truth, though. In Many Ways to Say I Love You by Fred Rogers, he writes, “If parents are managing to cover most of the important bases most of the time, they have every reason to feel food about what they’re doing. Our performance doesn’t have to be measured against anyone else’s— just against our own abilities to cope.”

When Mr. Rogers speaks, I listen.

I may not ensure that my children eat nothing but nutritious/organic/whole grain/non-processed foods, but we do sit around the the dinner table most nights for a meal.

They may occasionally see my frustrations but they know they’re loved.

I know there’s always room for improvement, but at the end of every day I’m happy with my parenting choices. Instead of constantly focusing on our shortcomings as parents— or worse yet, comparing ourselves to the Joneses down the block— we should think about one thing we do each day to prepare our kids for adulthood.

Talking to them about our values.

Teaching them the importance of a well-crafted thank you note.

Recognizing them as the special little people they are.

And then? We should pat ourselves on the back for covering those bases as well as we did. Mr. Rogers said so.

More by Mary Lauren:

Crossing off Your List: What to Get Kids this Holiday Season

I Thought This Day Would Never Come: My Daughter is Starting to Ask Questions

6 Reasons I’m Already Saving for Their Future Therapy

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