Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Art of Parenting

I'm of the mindset that parenting is an art form. It's a talent that not everyone develops. It's something that you get better at the longer you do it, as long as you learn from your mistakes. And good or bad, I think that you tend to emulate the role models you had as a child.

Parenting is the art of balancing dichotomies. You have to be everything to your child - the Disciplinarian, Nurturer, Friend, Coach, Listener, Lecturer, Motivator, Educator, Snuggler - all wrapped up into one parental ball.

Due to recent circumstance in my life, I've become increasingly aware of common traits and actions shared by good parents, as well as those shared by those I would classify as "non-parents." There are some very distinct differences between the two.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the fact that your egg or sperm became a baby DOES NOT make you a parent. You become a parent by working at it, learning from it and growing with your child(ren). And as far as I'm concerned, there are concrete lists of "Dos" and "Don'ts" that parents should follow in order to be most effective.

Good parents do...
  • Set realistic rules and expectations for their kids
  • Talk to their kids
  • Kiss their kids' ouchies
  • Praise their kids
  • Help their kids with homework
  • Read to their kids
  • Talk to their kids' teachers, advisers and school counselors
  • Cuddle their kids
  • Make time for themselves
  • Provide their kids with new experiences
  • Allow their kids freedom to be themselves
  • Punish their kids when necessary
  • Make time for their significant other
  • Trust their kids
  • Notice as their kids mature
  • Respect their kids
  • Follow through on their promises
  • Teach their kids to be responsible
  • Financially support their kids (until they can start to support themselves)
Good parents DON'T....
  • Ignore their kids
  • Treat their kids like peers
  • Deceive their kids (except when necessary to keep something a surprise!)
  • Expose their kids to negativity
  • Force their kids to grow up too fast
  • Smother their kids
  • Speak negatively about their kids
  • Invade their kids' privacy
  • Make promises to their kids they don't intend to keep
  • Let their kids quit when the going gets tough
  • Belittle their kids
My husband and I were both very lucky to have good parents. And we strive every day to be the good parents to our four kids that we know we can be. Does that mean we're always perfect? HELL no. But it does mean we try to live by the "Do" list at all times.

What things would you add to my lists of parental "Dos" or "Don'ts"?


  1. you ain't the parent of 4! Your husband is but you NO. I'd be ticked if some little chick came cruising in acting like she was the mom of my kids and and was only about 14 or 15 years older than them -- that's a sibling not a parent. Good gosh and at 30 you sure have it all figured out -- YOUR kids are 3 and you know all about being a parent. HA. There is a whole host of things that you do that should be on the "don't" list. Why don't we start that "do" list with giving your children a solid moral foundation rather than this "progressive" crap you seem to follow, staying home with them rather than working all day while they are in daycare, not trying to be a socialite all the time when you have 2 small kids at home, those would a good places to start...sadly I don't think you even get it though and probably never will because you are too into your love of martinis, friends, travel, and Spokane...I mean really, NYC without your kids for a whole week? That's just selfish to expect other people to take care of them so you can "enjoy" the city. Once they are grown then fine but they need you NOW to be home with them every night, to tuck them in bed, to say their prayers, to be there in case they have a bad dream, to wake up to you in the morning, to play with them in the day, watch TV with them, do projects with them, etc -- a parent, not a grandparent, not a 1/2 sibling, YOU. The concerts, drinks, couple vacations, fancy restaurants, etc. can wait until they are grown.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    First of all, since you are too embarrassed to use your name in your rant that seems to stem from anger and jealousy, please see my previous blog post about anonymous posting:

    Second, I put my whole heart, mind and soul into being a parent to my stepdaughters and have since I started dating their dad. It doesn't matter in the slightest that I'm only 30 - I know plenty of people who are 40+ who act like children. I couldn't love those girls any more if I had given birth to them myself, and I will parent the two children I DID deliver in the same way I have parented the girls.

    Third, I am happy that I am able to provide for my children in every way AND still maintain a romance with my husband, solid friendships and a great career. I think it's unfortunate for you that you seem to think you can't do it all. Because I CAN and I DO. And you could too.

    Lastly, as I said in my original post, I am a very far from the perfect parent. I recognize that and accept it. I learn every day from the mistakes I make, from my FOUR kids, and from other parents around me.

    And now, I'm excited go pick up my happy, silly 3-year-olds from preschool where they have just spent the day learning and growing!

  3. Reveal yourself...anonymous. Really, let's see who YOU are. Turn around, let's see what you are hiding behind your back. Let's see what you look like from the left side, now the right. Let's view you from the top...perhaps, even, from the bottom. Let's view you as you have just "viewed" someone else. Wait, don't. That would mean being honest, real and un-censored. No, instead, hide behind your cloak of anonymity, sitting in a dark, quiet room by yourself judging the world. Slowly, move toward your bathroom. Move closer to the mirrored medicine cabinet that hides your analgesics and salves to soothe your pains. Move even closer now and look in the mirror, anonymous......what do YOU see? Hard to look...isn't it.

  4. Parenting is never easy. As a stay at home mom of 2 I believe that the do's and don'ts of parenting sometimes gets blurred. I keep trying to improve my parenting all the time. I think it is important to keep the relationship with your husband and the father of your kids a strong and healthy one. And sometimes that means leaving them to have time to yourself. That makes you a better parent. And I have left my kids home for a mini vacation before, and when I came home I gave them both so many kisses and hugs because I missed them so much! That time away gave me renewed perspective and I was very grateful for that. If Bethany can keep her social life in tact I praise her for that! I long for more friend interaction, but my friends have completely different schedules and it is hard to get together. And those of my friends that have kids bring their kids along when we do get together. Some day her kids will be grown, uninterested in being with her and she will need friends. It is important that she nurture those relationships now for in the future it may be harder to find good friendships.

  5. Wow, looks like "Anonymous" nodded off in 1958 and woke up in modern times! I wasn't aware having a career equalled "progressive crap."

  6. Ohhh, "anonymous." What a delusional life you lead. First off, I'm guessing you've never met those two small kids you speak of. If you had, you'd know that they are the sweetest, smartest, most well-adjusted kids you will ever meet. Because of good genes? Definitely! Because of great parenting? Absolutely! Shame on you for being such a selfish and hateful person that you would judge someone for having help from their family. In fact, those children (ALL FOUR) are so lucky to have such wonderful people (Bethany and Chad included) in their lives to provide them with stability, support, encouragement and love.

    Secondly, don't think for one minute that because Bethany and Chad work, that means they don't love all four of their children. Not everyone is as lucky as you to be able to stay at home with our children all day. Although, I have a sneaky suspicion that the correct word to use would actually be "lazy". In fact, it would probably do you some good to get off the internet and get a job.

    Lastly, how ignorant are you to think that just because you are a parent, it means you don't need friends and adult interaction? Do you not understand that in order to be a better person for your children, you sometimes need to do something for yourself? Maybe you should get out and socialize. It might just give you that extra boost of self-esteem to be able to post a nasty comment WITH YOUR NAME.

    I think it's really interesting that you rant with such anger and jealousy. We usually get the most angry at people when we think they are doing the same negative things we are guilty of, so maybe you need to take a step back and re-evaluate yourself. I'm thinking there is vast room for improvement.

  7. I'm sure I don't know the person who wrote the first post, which was simply meant to hurt. I like to keep up on the other half of my kids lives and am fortunate to see pictures and family blog info periodically. But not this one.

    Everyone I know, knows that as the "other" mother of the teenagers, I have always said the more people in this world that love my kids, the better. Bethany has stepped in to the challeging role of being a parent to my kids and did it willingly in her mid twenties. With no experience, she stepped in as an example of generosity, caring, love, perseverence, discipline, and self-confidence. Do we agree on all social and political issues, no. But she confidently shares her thoughts, not fearing judgement and not backing down because it may not be popular. What a tremendous example to my teenage daughters. Anyone that knows Bethany, knows when she says she is the mother of 4, she is not claiming to have been knocked up when she was 14 but is claiming to love my girls as though they were her own. How fortunate am I. She shows it every day in her deeds and words. And she'll know alot more when she parents for another dozen years. It's hard enough to balance 2 household viewpoints and we don't always agree but one thing that we do agree on is the two older are better to have her in their lives and the two younger kids are as happy and bright as a new penny, a lucky penny.