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You know you are doing a good job as a parent if ...

April 7, 2010 - Betsy Bethel

Parenting is a tough gig. Society puts a lot of expectations on you, and it's up to you to sift through it all and determine what YOU value. No one can be Supermom or Superdad, and really, who wants to wear tights all the time, anyway?

Common sense dictates that we each have a breaking point. For one family, five kids is the limit; for another, one is more than enough. No one knows your limits except you! Similarly, some people place a high priority on having a neat and clean home — it makes them feel happy and like they are doing a good job; while others find keeping after every dust bunny leaves them too exhausted to hop around with their kids.

There's got to be a few things we all agree on, though. As parents, our basic priorities should include safety, responding to your children's needs and making education a priority, for example.

That said, here's my take on what constitutes "good parenting" in today's crazy world. (Funnily enough, it's not that different from when we were kids.)


1. Your kids think your TV only gets three channels: Nick Jr., PBS and PBS Kids.

2. You have developed "the look" and use it judiciously. (Once mastered, "the look" is like a non-verbal, non-physical swat to the backside. Overuse it and it loses potency.)

3. You have — at the minimum — the right number and type of car seats for each of your offspring, even if Johnny has to use his sister's hand-me-down pink camo one. Extra credit if you have an extra in the trunk for a random friend to tag along.

4. Your house has a miniature library that includes books by Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, Eric Carle, Richard Scarry, Margaret Wise Brown, A.A. Milne and the like.

5. Alternatively — or in addition — to No. 4, you have a library card that is so well used your name is worn off.

6. You make a daily attempt to feed your children more "real" food than "fake" food, even if it means their dinner sometimes consists only of peanuts and raisins, baby carrots and a homemade fruit smoothie. (By the way, that's a GREAT dinner!)

7. You know you can give your preschooler or toddler a plastic comb, a shoe box and a pair of old gardening gloves, and she (along with her imagination) will remain occupied for hours.

8. You set rules and expect your children to follow them.

9. When they don't follow the rules, you discipline them so they will learn ("discipline" comes from the Latin word that means "teaching" or "education"). When they do follow the rules, you reward them — and that reward can be as simple as a warm smile or a high five.

10. In a game of tag, your children use you as "home base."



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