hands held in the shape of a heart
by Doctor Mummy | 20:04

I recently posted about feeling bad for screaming at my kids when I was tired, for being unwell when I was pregnant and for having a complication in pregnancy that resulted in my daughter having hip dysplasia. I am definitely a victim of mum-guilt.

 

Every day I question myself as a mum – am I doing a good job? Are my kids sleeping right, eating right, learning what they need to learn? Do they have too much screen-time? Do I play with them enough? Am I teaching them right from wrong?

 

Then a few nights ago I spoke to one of my best friends, who also happens to be an absolutely brilliant mum. She was worried as she wanted to take her son to the park but he’s energetic, not yet safety-conscious and she wanted to use reins so she knew he was safe, but she worried about other parents judging her.

 

Now, this woman is one of the most dedicated, loving mums I know and I can’t imagine anyone who met her not thinking she was a good mum, yet, like me, she worries both about the decisions she makes and the judgement of other people.

 

It got me thinking – what makes a good mum?

So what does make a good mum?

  • Breastfeeding – it’s not easy and it gives your baby a great start in life, plus you get the joy of feeding your baby from your own body
  • Bottle-feeding – it ensures that your baby receives exactly the nutrients they need and lets other people share in the joy of feeding your baby

 

  • Not allowing screen-time – your kid gets to use their imagination instead of staring at a screen
  • Allowing screen-time – your kid gets a head start with technology and you get a chance to get a few chores done

 

  • Doing traditional weaning – your child gets to slowly build up their confidence with different textures and you have more control over how much they eat and how much mess they make
  • Doing baby-led weaning – your child gets to try out lots of different tastes and textures from the start, gets more confident with food early on and you get two hands to eat your own meal with

 

  • Co-sleeping – your child gets to feel safe and secure knowing you’re beside them and you get cuddles at night
  • Your child sleeping in a cot – your child gets some independent space and you worry less about accidentally rolling on them

  • Doing sleep-training – your child learns to sleep independently and you as a family all get the rest you need
  • Not doing sleep-training – your child learns to sleep in their own time and you get to enjoy all the night-time cuddles and quiet sleepy feeds

 

  • Playing with your child – you get to bond, your child learns from watching you and you make great memories together
  • Getting your child to play on their own – your child develops independence, learns to amuse himself and avoid boredom

 

  • Taking your child on holiday abroad – your child gets to experience new cultures and experiences and learn about the world she lives in
  • Holidaying at home – your child gets to see all the wonders of his home country and develop an understanding of the culture and country he is part of

 

  • Going to baby classes – your child gets exposed to a wide range of activities and the opportunity to develop an interest or talent
  • Not going to baby classes – you and your child get to recreate most of the experiences you would have had at the baby classes, but for less money and there’s no pressure for your child to continue an activity they don’t like

  • Getting angry and shouting at your child – your child gets to see that you have emotions, learns how you resolve conflict and that it’s OK to make mistakes and apologise
  • Getting angry and not shouting at your child – your child learns how to handle anger constructively

 

  • Travelling with your child in a car-seat – your child gets to travel to places not accessible by public transport or walking and is secured in the safest way possible
  • Travelling with your child in a sling or carrier – your child gets to feel close to you and you both get fresh air and exercise on your travels

 

  • Toilet-training your child early – they become independent earlier and start learning about their bodies and hygiene
  • Toilet-training your child late – they don’t feel under pressure before they’re ready and they pick it up quickly

 

  • Giving your child a dummy/pacifier – they get comfort when they’re distressed or sleepy
  • Not giving your child a dummy/pacifier – they get comfort in others ways and you don’t have to worry about taking it off them

  • Home-schooling – you have complete control over your child’s education and they get individualised attention to help them progress, enhancing their academic performance
  • Traditional schooling – they have the opportunity to socialise and learn from their peers, enhancing their academic performance

 

  • Using reins on outings – you keep your child safe and know that she isn’t in danger
  • Not using reins on outings – you give your child more independence and the opportunity to learn about safety

 

  • Being a helicopter mum – you keep your child safe and they have the confidence of knowing you’re always there if they need you
  • Being a laid-back mum – you allow your child to learn from their mistakes and grow as a person

 

  • Punishing your child – you teach them that their actions have consequences and that they need to learn right from wrong
  • Using alternatives to punishment such as time-ins – you connect with your child emotionally and help them to understand their feelings and motives, so they can make better choices

 

  • Returning to work – your child gets to see the benefits of a career and is inspired to succeed in the future
  • Staying at home – your child gets more time with you and you nurture them to succeed in the future

 

  • Cooking meals from scratch – your child gets healthy, nutritious food and you know exactly what he is eating
  • Using ready-meals – your child gets more play-time with you as you’re not busy cooking

You haven’t really answered the question…

No, because there is no one answer to ‘what makes a good mum?’ You only have to take a quick look at any parenting forum to see that opinions on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ parenting are massively divided.

 

At the end of the day, the only people who really know if you’re a good mum or not are your children. Children are hugely forgiving of our mistakes and seeing us get things wrong and learn from them is a great lesson for them.

 

So maybe we all need to cut ourselves and other parents some slack, accept that we’re all doing our best and try not to beat ourselves up on the days when we fall short of our own ideal of a ‘good mum’.

Any other suggestions for what makes a good mum? Do you think there are some definite rules for being a good or bad parent? Please leave me a comment below and let me know!

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Comments

Dan

I agree that no one can judge whether you are a good mom or a good parent but your own chilldren. Different people have different ways of upbringing their children. As the saying goes mom knows what is best for their kids.
I salute all moms including my wife because being a mother is not an easy job but a lifetime commitment.
Great Post!

Jun 22.2018 | 03:55 pm

    Doctor Mummy

    Hi Dan, thanks for commenting! I’m sure that your wife is doing a fantastic job and that you’re doing a brilliant job as a dad too!

    Jun 22.2018 | 06:33 pm

Benji

Thanks for this very interesting and entertaining read! I agree that there is definitely more than one ‘right’ way to parent, but do you think there are ever exceptions to this? (as in hard and fast rules that should be followed by all parents.)
Another thought that occurred to me as I was reading was that while it is definitely good to see the positives of different ways of parenting, do you think there is a danger of people starting to justify bad parenting if they become to lax about what makes a good parent? It seems there is definitely a line to draw somewhere- don’t beat yourself up about things, but don’t ignore things you’re doing wrong. It’s a difficult one. Any thoughts?

Jul 26.2018 | 09:01 pm

    Doctor Mummy

    Hi Benji, thanks for commenting. You make a very interesting point. I think the only hard and fast rules are really about safety – ensuring that your child is clean, fed, safe, emotionally supported and that their needs are being met. When you start moving beyond that it becomes much more a grey area – one person’s ‘cruel parenting’ is another person’s ‘clear boundaries and discipline’ – just look at the debates over controlled crying or the use of a ‘naughty step’ and you can see the widely opposing views people hold on how to parent ‘right’.

    I think most parents tend to over-analyse their parenting rather than justifying bad parenting. I question myself and the decisions I make for my kids all the time and I spend a lot of time seeing parents in my surgery who are struggling to know if they’re doing the ‘right thing’. I guess the point I was trying to make is that if your kids are happy, healthy, safe and well cared for, then all the little decisions really don’t matter as much as we think they do!

    Jul 26.2018 | 09:26 pm

Leroy

Yes I know what a difficult challenge it has been for my wife looking after our children. I do think your comment about the children are the only ones who can judge if you a good mum or bad mum is a very sobering thought.

Jul 26.2018 | 09:03 pm

    Doctor Mummy

    Hi Leroy, thanks for commenting. I agree it could be sobering, but perhaps it’s also a good thing? In general I think kids are far more tolerant and less judgemental than adults. My daughter told me today that I’m “the best mum” because I gave her a ‘picnic’ tea outside – truthfully it was because I haven’t had time to get to the shops, but she just saw it as a fun time together!

    Jul 26.2018 | 09:19 pm

Dominique Strydom

I really like how you emphasised that there isn’t a way to be a perfect mum. Also that you showed the pros of each common parenting method.

Jul 27.2018 | 03:33 pm

    Doctor Mummy

    Hi Dominique, thanks for commenting and glad that you liked the post!

    Jul 27.2018 | 08:04 pm

Viktoria

There are so many ways in which we can take care of our children, be loving and support their health and development. To be a “good mother” is a society based expectation which is drawn up by loads of unrealistic expectations of women and men (fathers). We forget that we are naturally, innately capable to do this parenting thing – it’s in our blood and we know what’s best for our child and for ourselves. Through developing this trusting relationship of ourselves, strengthen our mothering instinct and that inner knowing, we feel empowered to make the decisions we feel are most suitable in that moment. If it turns out to not be the case, that’s okay – we grow and we learn. But to listen to what society deems “correct” and “good mother” is denigrating to us all, to our innate wisdom and very capable mothering instincts.

Sep 10.2018 | 05:25 am

    Doctor Mummy

    Hi Viktoria, thanks for commenting. I agree – there are many ways in which we can take care of our children. Parenting is indeed innate and natural, although it can be hard to resist being influenced by the opinions of family, friends and others, who are well meaning but not raising our children! Blocking out society’s views is sometimes easier said than done, but I completely agree that parents are the best judge of their children’s needs and need to trust their instincts!

    Sep 12.2018 | 12:41 pm

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