We All Want To Be Good Parents

Caitlin Houston
4 min readJun 13, 2024

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What is the best way to be a good parent? I have googled this question a hundred times since first becoming a Mom. While there are countless opinions on the best parenting styles, there are universal characteristics defining a good parent. Here is what I’ve learned and discovered about being a good parent on my quest to be the best Mom I can be.

Am I a Good Mom?

Am I a good Mom? Did I scare my children with a temper tantrum? Will my toddler’s teeth fall out if I forget to brush them before bed? Will my kids remember to laugh and love? It’s impossible to not wonder how much of an impact the simplest actions may have on my children when I know how much my own parents influenced who I am today.

Children are a blurry reflection of the people that raise them. I see bits and pieces of my parents in myself often. From my Dad’s freckles and sense of humor to my Mom’s smile and empathic abilities, I am a blend of my parents’ physical and character traits. While shared DNA is undoubtedly responsible for my appearance, the origin of my personality is a bit more complicated. Studies show both genetics and environment, nature and nurture, play a role in humans.

My middle child likes to remind me of my flaws in parenting. She isn’t intentionally accusatory, but more so honestly observant. “Mommy we aren’t supposed to watch t.v. today — we got in trouble this morning. Aren’t we supposed to brush our teeth before bedtime? Mommy why are you so mad when we did nothing wrong?” Her honestly is both humbling and startling. What’s worse is when my child’s personality mirrors my imperfect character flaws. It’s in those moments that I want to teach her to act differently than her Mom, react more appropriately or never repeat the behavior again.

Personality is everything — it makes you who you are and influences every corner of your life. If the people who raise us are partially responsible for shaping our personalities, then there is a lot of pressure on parents to do it right.

Are Parents Responsible for their Children’s Behavior?

Do we get a choice in how we act as a Mom or Dad? Absolutely.

But will there be factors beyond your control that inhibit or influence your best parenting intentions? YES.

If we only have partial control over our children’s personalities, how can you raise a good child with confidence he or she will turn out the way you intend?

Over the last ten years I have done a bit of research on how to be a good parent. I’ve made many mistakes, all of which are turned into learning moments and ultimately forgiven if not repeated. Raising my third child has recently been the most informative experience — there is a reason there are mounting hooks for furniture and locks on doors. While the jury may stand on my status as ‘a good parent’ until the end of time, I am certain I’m doing a ‘good job’ as long as I’m trying my best.

Mom and toddler sitting on floor sharing a jar of peanut butter how to be a good parent

10 Characteristics of a Good Parent

  1. Loving — Isn’t unconditional love at the root of parenthood? Studies find that unconditional love and affection from a parent can make children emotionally happier and less anxious.
  2. Sense of Humor — Did you know humor is a useful tool for calming situations, disciplinary moments, and bonding between parent and child? Being funny is good for your family.
  3. Flexibility — You don’t have to know how to do a split, but you should be open-minded to changing your parenting style when necessary.
  4. Consistency — Consistency and flexibility go hand in hand. A good parent sets clear expectations and always follows through, but makes adjustments when needed.
  5. Patience — Not just with your children, but yourself.
  6. Communicative — There is something to be said about the power of communication in parenthood. Talk, listen, respond — and create a pathway for your child to do the same.
  7. Trustworthy — It’s the ability to be honest, reliable, and accountable, all while keeping promises and honoring commitments.
  8. Involved — While there are obvious limits on how involved a parent should be in their child’s life, a good parent is an active participant and not just an observer.
  9. Modeling — It’s obvious most children learn more from watching than listening good parents will model the positive behaviors they want to see in their children.
  10. Forgiving — Recognizing your children aren’t perfect (as well as yourself) frees all parties from unrealistic expectations and overly high standards. Teach your child forgiveness — it goes a long way.

We All Want To Be Good Parents

The idea of raising a newborn is funny. While it may seem like newborns are easiest to care for in terms of basic needs, they have the same emotional, cognitive, and physical needs as both children and adults. From the minute a tiny human is placed in your arms, they will watch you for cues and instructions on how to be a tiny human. At some point your child will understand right versus wrong and it’s your responsibility to be the teacher of this lesson.

Children test limits as a way to learn expectations and boundaries. In a society where we — the parents — blame the figure(s) responsible for raising a child, it is important to remember a child’s behavior is not always the parents’ fault. Despite the science of nature, it should never be a parents’ reason to quit nurturing their child.

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Caitlin Houston

Caitlin Houston is a Mom of three and creator of Connecticut based life + style site Caitlin Houston Blog.