Am I a Good Mother?

Are you a good parent?

I am always curious as to how my parenting skills measure up to other parents, and now I have an opportunity to find out what the professionals think. I found a link to a parenting skills survey in a recent Scientific American article titled, “What Makes a Good Parent?” by Robert Epstein.  The article outlines recent research evaluating 10 types of parenting practices touted by scientific research as effective, how these practices are viewed by professionals, and whether or not they are actually used by parents.  Parent’s scores on the Parenting Skills Survey were compared to their own assessments of outcomes of their parenting practices to predict which parenting skills determine good outcomes.

They found  love and affection for one’s children to be most related to good parenting outcomes.  They also found parental stress management and the maintenance of partner relationships to by highly correlated with successful parenting.  The author states that this finding was a surprise, really?  I don’t find it so far fetched that happier kids come from good parent/partner relationships and stress-free caregivers.  I have often found that if I am feeling stressed out or angry with my partner, those feelings reverberate throughout our household, evident in the actions of our children, in the way I deal with the girls when they are acting up, in how I manage or mismanage everyday stress.  Taking time for yourself and maintain positive relationships with your partner may not seem directly related to how you parent your child, but they are inextricably intertwined and cannot be separated.

So, I took the test. Wondering how I did?  Well, first here is a sampling of some of the questions and my answers:

-One of the first questions “are you a parent?” Um, duh, that’s why I am here…

-On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest, how happy have your children been (on average)? 9 most days, 6 when mommy has her period..

-On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest, how good has your relationship been with your children (on average)? Um, if i thought it was great would i be here? 8 maybe…

-On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest, how good a parent do you think you are? Rated myself a 7, does that make me a bad parent?

-Have you had any training or education in parenting? Only the Sink or Swim kind…

-I plan ahead to avoid last-minute stress. Do I keep treats in my purse so I can try on clothes without them screaming…YES!

-I manage money well. Ooh, whats that doing here?

Some of the questions surprised me:

-I encourage my child to live a moral life. Define ‘Moral’
-I’m always available to answer my child’s spiritual questions.  “Mommy, what is God” “Um, so, some people believe…”
-I support my child’s spiritual development through special schooling or other means. Oh, jeepers, such as??? Is there a special school for spiritual people who don’t support organized religion??
-I participate with my child in the celebration of religious holidays or other religious or spiritual events. In the most special and commercial way I can…

Etc, etc…
-I always try to support my child’s participation in legitimate spiritual or religious activities.
-I set a good example for my child by regularly participating in spiritual or religious activities.
-I am open about sharing my religious and spiritual beliefs with my child.
-I encourage my child to socialize with people who have spiritual or religious beliefs.

The Results:
Your scores in each of the 10 different skill areas – “The Parents Ten” – are as follows:

Autonomy & Independence: 97%
You treat your child (or children) with respect and try to build his or her self-esteem. You encourage your child to become self-reliant and self-sufficient.

Behavior Management: 97%
You use positive reinforcement and reward systems extensively. You use minimal but effective forms of discipline. You provide a proper balance of affection and discipline. You teach your child positive and effective techniques for interacting with other people.

Education & Learning: 97%
You promote and model learning. You support the completion of homework. You support and model reading. You support school curriculum goals within the home. You participate in school functions.

Healthy Lifestyle: 97%
You support and model healthy eating habits, daily exercise, good sleep habits, and good hygiene.

Life Skills: 97%
You manage your money responsibly. You have a steady income. You provide all household necessities consistently. You plan for shortages and emergencies. You plan for the future. You strive for improvement.

Love & Affection: 97%
You express love and affection toward your child. You praise your child regularly. You are generally supportive and accepting of your child. You listen actively when your child speaks. You spend quality one-on-one time with your child.

Relationship Skills: 94%
You maintain a positive relationship with your spouse/partner. You coordinate parenting techniques with the other parent. You plan quality family time. You spend couple time away from your child. You settle arguments out of your child’s sight. You teach basic relationship skills to your child.

Religion & Spirituality: 61% Ooh, I didn’t see that one coming…
You support your child’s spiritual or religious development and activity. You participate in religious, spiritual, or communal activities with your child. You support friendships with religious or spiritual peers.

Safety: 97%
You take necessary precautions to protect your child. You maintain awareness of your child’s activities and friends appropriate to his or her abilities and level of maturity. You make your child feel safe about disclosing secrets. You establish rules appropriate to his or her abilities and level of maturity.

Stress Management: 83% Yes, working on this one. Have a pedicure appointment tomorrow!
You reduce sources of stress for yourself and your child. You practice relaxation techniques. You interpret life events positively. You prioritize and plan appropriately. You teach stress-management skills to your child.

So, it seems I am doing alright, except for the spiritual development of my child and myself I suppose.  Religion and spirituality are such complex concepts, my parents left it up to us to figure out how we felt about Catholicism and other religions.  I was baptized a Catholic, but it’s tenets did not survive my 7-year old, Star Trek induced logical mind.  Today, I feel I am a spiritual person, but I do not want or need anyone else to explain to me how I should feel about my connection to the universe and other people. That is something very deep and personal that I have cultivated for myself, I hope to give my girls the same opportunity, even it means to others that I’m not doing it right.



About Theresa

Writer, sister, mother, human.