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Health & Parenting

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"Am I a Good Enough Mom?"

Get your guy on your side. continued...

"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.'"

Ditch the people who bring you down.

Feeling a certain amount of self-doubt about our mothering is normal, says Borba. But when your friends actually add to your parenting insecurity, it might be time to find a new mommy group. For Patty Kamson, 44, a nearly 20-year friendship had to end because her pal kept criticizing her parenting skills. "She thought I was soft on my kids and had no qualms voicing her opinion," says Patty, who lives in Los Angeles. While the criticisms never led Patty to change her mothering style, there were times when "I wondered, What if she's right?" she says. But when Patty's daughter had a meltdown during a get-together, her now former friend "began to lay into me about how my kids and I need to toughen up," she says. So Patty cut her loose. "Riding you about how you mother? Nothing cuts deeper than that," she explains. "I feel better about my parenting — and myself — without that toxic relationship."

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