"Am I a Good Enough Mom?"
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.
"Spousal sabotage is a big complaint from moms — who often play 'bad
cop' by default when dads just want to have fun," says Simpson. Avoid
chastising your partner in front of the kids in the heat of the moment.
"That kind of squabbling undermines both parents' authority and teaches
kids to play you against each other," she explains. Instead, pull your guy
aside and quietly explain that his actions undercut your efforts. Then suggest
alternatives to his rowdy behavior, such as reading a book with the children or
participating in what you're doing so he's not sabotaging you. Later, follow up
with him — make sure you're still on the same page about house rules and remind
him how crucial it is that you maintain a united parenting front.
Meanwhile, it's also critical to remain somewhat flexible — especially when
your kids are at a friend's or relative's house. "When you model
flexibility, children learn positive lessons about problem-solving," says
Elizabeth Berger, M.D., a child psychiatrist and the author of Raising Kids
with Character. Gina Williams, 41, a mom in Glenn Dale, MD, is adamantly
against TV and video games, and so far her strident house rule has held up. But
when her two sons — Zion, 6, and Dylan, 2 — visit Grandma, they're treated to a
screen-time bonanza: television, video, handheld games, you name it. Instead of
fighting with her mother, however, Gina softened up her rule. "I focus on
the things I can control in my own house," she says. "I just say, 'What
happens at Grandma's stays at Grandma's.'"