What Being a Great Parent Means

What is a great or good parent? Let’s look back in time and see what others thought about this topic.

Proverbs: Train a child up in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Ancient Sparta: Plutarch informed us that Spartan babies were “taught” to avoid being fussy about their diet, to not fear the dark, to not cry or have tantrums.

Cicero: “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book. ”

Calvinists: viewed child rearing as a battle of wills between a sinful infant and the parent. Physical punishment was used to ensure that the parent won this battle.

John Watson: told parents to not hug or kiss their children and to never let them sit in your lap. “If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say good night. Shake hands with them in the morning. ”

Benjamin Spock: “The more people have studied different methods of bringing up children the more they have come to the conclusion that what good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is the best after all. ”

So a good parent is:

[take your pick]

• a trainer
• a punisher
• unemotional
• instinctive

And “everyone is writing a book. ” Yes they are. Over time there have been [and still are] books telling you what a great parent is [and is not] and how you should raise your child. The message is that if you follow the parenting advice of the author – you will be the great parent. But as each author has different advice – how on earth does a parent know which author to trust about what makes a great parent?

The simplistic answer is trust none of them but to take what feels correct from each and make your own decisions. A great parent is one who loves their child, knows and accepts that they will make many mistakes in their parenting and that this is ok.

There is a quote from Les Brown: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars. ”

So aim for being a great parent – BUT – please do not aim to have a great or perfect child. That’s your child’s choice. Great parents are those who provide an environment in which the child can develop to its fullest potential and learn to make their own decisions. A great parent knows and understands that they cannot force greatness or perfection on their child.