Four Ways to Measure ‘Good Parenting’
Is your parenting good enough?
How do you measure whether your parenting is ‘good enough’? It’s definitely something parents worry about throughout their child’s lives. It doesn’t help that society places so much pressure on parents to be ‘good’.
What even is ‘good parenting’ anyway?
The truth is, it is extremely hard to quantify what a good outcome for children really means. The definition of ‘good outcome’ itself varies depending on where you are in the world and who you are.
Psychologists Laura Smith & Charles Elliott (2011) attempted to categorise what good outcomes for children are. They outline what they call the ‘Four Key Objectives of Childhood’ or what we can call, ‘The Goals of Growing Up’.
The Goals of Growing Up:
— Forming good attachments and relationships
— Controlling emotions and impulses
— Developing healthy self-views
— Achieving one’s potential
What do these goals actually help the child achieve and how do they demonstrate ‘good parenting’?
Forming good attachments and relationships
Being able to form good relationships with people will enable children to experience different viewpoints and ways of approaching life. To be open to forming good relations, a child will need to have a secure attachment with a parent in order to be confident enough to explore the world independently.
Controlling emotions and impulses
An ability to control emotions and impulses will allow the child to focus on goals other than those driven by primal impulses. They will be able to understand concepts such as delayed gratification (suffering now and reaping rewards later). In order for a child to be able to control their emotions and impulses, they need to be exposed to this behaviour themselves. Usually, this is modeled by parents who can tackle situations by vocalising any emotions they are experiencing and how they plan on controlling them, thus allowing a child to understand how emotions and actions can be separated to achieve a positive outcome.
Developing healthy self-views
A positive and balanced self-view is extremely beneficial for child development and mental health. We are all aware of how damaging society can be to a person’s self-esteem, but being able to know and love who you are is a concept that even adults struggle with at times. To develop balanced self-views, children should learn about the attributes that make them who they are and be exposed to confident people who are similar to them. By learning about themselves children can accept their strengths and weaknesses better.
Achieving one’s potential
Discovering something they are good at, or have potential in, will give children a sense of purpose allowing them to strive towards something. By focusing on achieving one’s potential, children will experience a feeling of satisfaction when achieving things they deem important. This also teaches children about working hard and accepting that success is never guaranteed.
Ultimately, what this list of goals highlights is that ‘good parenting’ isn’t about the small details that we tend to fret over. It’s about providing your children with tools and examples to efficiently navigate themselves in the real world in order to achieve the outcomes they want to achieve.