I saw a quote pop up in my Facebook feed, a familiar quote, I’ve seen it many times before. It reads:
“Good mums have sticky floors, dirty ovens and happy kids!”
And the response is almost always the same. A collection of mums commenting things like “so true!” “thanks, I needed that!” “I must be a GREAT mum!” and “Hey wait a minute, I have a clean floor and a clean oven and I’M a good mum too!”
I see this on almost all possible topics of parenting; if one thing makes you a good parent, then the opposite must mean you’re a “bad parent”.
But that’s just not true. The opposite of good, can be equally good. Everyone has different values, opportunities, choices, information, situations – everyone has different reasons for why they do what they do and why they choose what they choose. And not everyone has those choices to begin with. You can’t be labelled a “bad parent” things that are beyond your control. A “good parent” is a “good parent” no matter what the circumstances are. I’m not saying there are no bad parents, there are terrible parents, but they are rare and I doubt that someone who cares enough to want to be a good parent can be a bad parent.
But still, I’d like to clear up what I think a good parent is.
Good parents have clean floors, clean ovens, and cranky children.
Good parents breastfeed, formula feed, mix feed, tube feed, exclusively pump and feed their babies donated breast milk.
Good parents play games, sing songs, watch cartoons, chat with their friends and sit on park benches on their smart phones.
Good parents bake, cook from scratch, buy only organic, grow their own, buy packets and GMO foods.
Good parents are vegetarian, vegan, omnivorous, paleo, grain free, dairy free, gluten free, salicylate free, salt free, sugar free and nothing free.
Good parents have tattoos, wear suits, mini skirts, hijabs, designer clothes and tracksuits
Good parents vaccinate and conscientiously object.
Good parents helicopter, free range, attachment parent, parent instinctively, naturally, permissively, authoritatively and don’t believe in labels.
Good parents teach their children about religion, teach them faith, teach them scepticism and respect their child’s beliefs.
Good parents are fit, work out, eat healthy, aren’t active and eat junk food.
Good parents send their children to public school, private school, Steiner school, denominational school, boarding school, homeschool and unschool.
Good parents join the “Parents and friends committee”, make Easter hats, volunteer in the classroom, go to school social events, and aren’t involved at school at all.
Good parents are always early, running late and on time.
Good parents buy lots of toys, limited toys, wooden toys, plastic toys, fabric toys, make their own toys, buy second hand toys and no toys.
Good parents support their children into adulthood, buy them cars, give them loans, give them money, let them live at home, don’t charge rent, charge rent, make them pay their own way and teach them to work hard for their goals
Good parents have partners, husbands, wives, none and both.
Good parents cosleep, bedshare, have separate rooms, and live elsewhere.
Good parents wear their babies, carry their babies and put their babies in prams.
Good parents bond from conception, during pregnancy, at birth and spend a lifetime seeking a bond with their children.
Good parents have planned pregnancies, unplanned pregnancies, assisted fertility, need a donor, surrogate, and adopt.
Good parents have children in their teens, twenties, thirties and over forty.
Good parents have hospital births, home births, free births, vaginal births, emergency csections, elective csections, medical inductions, social inductions, pain relief and drug free births.
Good parents use disposable nappies, degradable nappies, terry cloth nappies, modern cloth nappies and no nappies.
Good parents drive small cars, sedans, city 4WDs, actual 4WDs, mini-vans, motorbikes and don’t drive at all.
Good parents have one child, two children, three children, twelve children, and no children.
Good parents are home full time, work part time, work full time, work from home, work days, work nights, work weekends, work away, study and use childcare to clean and sleep.
Good parents smoke, quit while they’re pregnant, cut back and can’t quit at all.
Good parents love being a parent, have fun, get bored, always wanted to be a parent and didn’t ever want to be a parent.
Good parents shout, get angry, smack, use timeout, get overwhelmed, don’t punish, use natural consequences, stay calm, always put their child first, make themselves a priority and need a break.
Good parents use controlled crying, cry it out, follow routines, don’t have a routine, don’t leave babies to cry alone, hold babies while they cry, have babies who never cry and have babies who always cry.
Good parents have happy children, grumpy children, playful children, shy children, kind children, polite children, children who don’t share, children who fight, children who don’t listen, children who have accidents, children who get sick, children who are gifted, children who have special needs and children who are average.
No matter what their choices are, a good parent is a good parent.