Most areas of our lives are easily scored. We have clear metrics to tell us if we are good at a sport, academically, in business, etc. Parental success is not so easy to define. Although success for each child looks different, there are some outcomes we can use to measure parental success.
Parental Success is Based on Tools
The most important thing a good parent provides is tools. These are the tools to cope with the wide range of obstacles life throws at us. For example, tools to deal with loss, bullying, success, failure, and other highs and lows. These tools do not make a child successful, but they allow one to adapt to life. Rather than defining success, these tools provide a path to success. We can not protect our children from life, nor can we even make decisions for them. Thus, parenting is about accepting our limitations and preparing our children to face life on their own.
Becoming a Cautionary Tale
Experience is the best teacher. When we learn that touching a hot stove is painful, that fact tends to stick with us. Of course, we can learn by being told the stove is hot or by witnessing the effect of someone else touching the stove. This latter option is where we have a metric for measuring parental success. We have lived more years than our children and experienced far more than they have. Rather Instead of watching our children repeat our mistakes, we can share our experience. This sharing allows them to make all new missteps. That may not sound very upbeat, but when you think about it, that is progress.
Our children will face a lot of situations we have also faced. Sharing the results of our choices, good and bad, can provide a way for our kids to learn from our experience. Thus, when a child makes the “right” decision based on an experience shared by their parents, it is a point in the parental success column. Likewise, when they repeat our mistakes, we could have done better.
These focus points may seem like a short list of items for measuring parental success. I agree. However, I will be looking at some traits of successful parents that add more details to these points. A good parent protects their children and prepares them for life. I skipped the protection item because it is completely subjective. A parent that does all they can to protect their child may still fail. That is not a failure as a parent, just a lack or power.
Our children are not perfect, nor are we. When we accept that there are limits to what we can do for our children, that is the first step towards parental success. We must hope for the best while preparing our children for the worst. This is how they learn to stand on their own. In the end, isn’t that what we want for them?