My kids’ good behavior doesn’t mean I’m a good parent

When we were leaving Costco the other day, an older man tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I just wanted to tell you that you’re a good mom … I can tell because your kids are so well-behaved.” I jokingly responded, “They aren’t always.” He smiled at my comment but then proceeded to say that you can always tell who is a good parent by their kids’ behavior. 

I realize the guy was genuinely trying to be kind and to compliment me, but all I could think about was how glad I was that we could make it through the day with none of the kids fighting or screaming or doing who knows what else. We have certainly had those unpleasant moments in stores as well, although thankfully they occur much less often at this point. 

What about parents who have children with special needs or adopted children who have come from difficult backgrounds? “Good” behavior might not be a possibility for them at that moment. What would the older man at Costco think of those parents?

There are so many things that go into being a good parent: Loving our kids well; doing what we feel is best for them; training them; and so many other things. But I don’t believe my kids’ behavior determines my success on an “everyday” level. If that were the case I would be a failure on an almost daily basis. Kids are their own little people who are learning and growing and they certainly don’t have their act together. Shoot, neither do I half the time.

I think it is easy as parents to fall into the faulty thinking that our kids’ actions on any given day make us good parents or failing parents. I definitely have gone to bed so many times thinking I am failing, but I try to remind myself that my goal is to raise a healthy adult. Right now they are still in progress.

A bad day is not the final result, it is just one more training exercise.

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