He’s healthy, he’s happy, and he likes me

How do you measure your parenting skills?

Because, let’s face it. Most of us feel guilty about, well, everything. I think most of us feel inadequate as parents sometimes.

Or maybe it’s just me.

But, either way, I’ve come up with what I think is the best yardstick by which to measure my ability as a parent: I mentally tick off these three boxes:

  • He’s healthy.
  • He’s happy.
  • He likes me.

I figure if I can tick off two out of three of those boxes at any given point in time, I’m doing okay. And usually I get 100% on this test – I have a perfectly normal, healthy little two year old, who’s generally a happy camper (waking up grumpy from naps doesn’t count, nor does the occasional meltdown because I won’t give him Promite sandwiches for the fourth time in a day). And he likes me. “Mummy, hug!”

Now these three things aren’t necessarily key performance indicators of good parenting for everyone. Particularly the health thing. Kids get sick, and there’s not a lot we can do about that – hey, my child had swine flu recently (and wasn’t that the most cabin-fevered fortnight of my life?). And sometimes you have to shift the bar – if your child has something serious or chronic, chances are pretty good it is something outside your control. But, like a lot of mothers, I worry about a lot of things – does he eat enough? is he getting enough vegetables? oh no, he didn’t have any fruit today, but he ate biscuits three times… I look at him, and I see a perfectly normal little boy who’s lean and tall and who seems to have boundless energy, and I think, well, whatever he ate today/yesterday/over the course of the last week, he seems pretty healthy to me – I must be doing okay on that front.

I think my point is that I’ve found a little set of quick checkboxes that reassure me at any point in time. If I can say to myself, “he’s healthy, he’s happy, and he likes me,” then I can easily and rapidly remind myself of the bigger picture – which is that as a parent, I do just fine.

Have you ever thought about a quick checklist like this? Day to day, what is it that you want for your child – things that are within your control, that is? What is it that you look for in your child to reassure you that you’re doing okay at this parenting thing?

9 responses to this post.

  1. Check list for your post:
    * Perfect
    * Perfect
    * um Perfect.

    What a great parenting guage 🙂


    • I like it. 🙂 So do a few of my friends, who’ve looked to me for parental validation before – it’s usually a feeding thing, because I breastfeed sometimes my friends who formula feed worry that I think they’re a crap parent as a result. I point to their kid and say, “Looks to me like she’s healthy, she’s happy, and she likes you. That tells me you’re a great parent.” I think it takes the focus off what they (the parents) are doing, and puts it back onto the child – who, after all, is the best gauge there is, I think.


  2. Posted by Bill on July 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Isn’t “, hug!” the best thing to hear? No matter what I’m doing, i’ll stop and bend down and acquiesce.

    I will say however, having been the non-preferred parent in the past, sometimes it’s hard to tell #3. They’ll visibly push you away for the preferred parent. It’s harsh and hard, and brings up massive doubts. I’m now of course on the opposite end of the spectrum, being preferred parent for child #2, so I’m making sure that every sign that child #2 does actually like and love non-preferred parent is brought to light and said parent is made aware. From the previous experience, it helps a great deal for those times when “no! go away!” comes at you.


  3. Posted by Kathy on July 20, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I love your test cAt, and I think I pass most days which is even better!

    For me, those smiles at the end of the day when I walk into the daycare centre do a lot to assuage working-mother’s guilt.


  4. Posted by Michelle on July 20, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    I love it. I have to say that we generally judge ourselves by similar things – in fact the number one thing for us is “She’s happy”. We always said that we just hope to have a happy child. Of course we also want her to be healthy and like us and lots of other things but “happy” is a pretty good way to be 🙂


  5. I definitely need to lighten up. Unfortunately my biggest worry is eating habits and obesity, which I’m convinced is waiting to spring out at the girls in 10 or 15 years. It doesn’t help having michelin babies, who haven’t really slimmed down compared with other toddlers. And have you noticed the tendency to get really chubby then shoot up a bit? I always seem to notice the chubby phase 🙂 So I try to look at things over time, and if I’m really worried we go outside and they run around madly.


    • Yeah, I totally get it. I think if my son were the same way, I’d be just as worried – which is interesting, because I actually think that my hangups are more likely to be problematic to him in the future than what he’s actually eating now. So in that sense I’m glad that he’s long and lean – I don’t freak out about what he’s eating as a result, so he’s (hopefully) less likely to pick up on any angst from me.

      I don’t know if my mother worried about me being a chubby baby/toddler, but she certainly worried about me being a chubby child/teenager. And it rubbed off, for sure. 😦 Which also interests me, because as an adult I learned that it’s actually very easy (for me) to lose weight and maintain a slimmer figure, but in contrast I’ve decided that I couldn’t really be bothered at the moment. Took me a long time to get to that stage though…
      …but that’s another story altogether I think!


  6. […] certainly got through with my eldest and ended up with a healthy, happy little girl who likes us (thanks, cAt) and sleeps […]


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