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    "Am I a Good Enough Mom?"

    Stand up for yourself. continued...

    It took many hits for me to finally figure out that in order to feel confident about my parenting, I had to put busybodies in their place. With my firstborn, I often let an off-the-cuff remark from an uppity mom on the playground go seemingly unnoticed, so as not to make a scene. But afterward, I'd be burning up inside. Nowadays, I don't let people get away with offering up annoying advice, and I've managed to come up with some pretty witty retorts. Recently, a nanny at the playground said to me rather haughtily, "Hot sauce will get your son to stop sucking his fingers." I forced a smile and answered: "Thanks. He's not yet 2, but if he's still sucking them at 22, I'll take you up on that."

    Not so quick with a comeback? Bria Simpson, author of The Balanced Mom: Raising Your Kids Without Losing Yourself, suggests using this easy script: "I know you have different ideas about parenting. I respect yours and I need you to respect mine."

    Use ammo from the experts.

    Your instincts are your best handbook to mothering. But it doesn't hurt to arm yourself with informed guidance. Read a book or two — but not 20. Consult your pediatrician. Talk to friends whose parenting styles you admire. "Mix and match to arrive at your own style," says Debbie Glasser, Ph.D., founder of newsforparents.org. "When you find out what works for you, you won't be so vulnerable to the push and pull of outsiders."

    And when you really want to get the quibblers off your back, never underestimate the power of these three words: "My pediatrician says...." With that preface you get instant cred, even if you say that your baby is allergic to mauve. Seriously.

    Get your guy on your side.

    Most nights, around 8 p.m., you'll find me issuing orders like a traffic cop: "Put your homework in your backpacks. Take a shower. Brush your teeth." Some nights everything clicks, and by 8:30 everyone is ready to go night-night. But other nights, my husband derails my system by offering horseback rides, telling jokes, or regaling the kids with stories about his childhood. Sometimes I find this kind of sweet. But most of the time, it just eats me up.

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