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Health & Parenting

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Are You As Good As Your Mom?

Being a good mom gets tougher all the time continued...

That jibes with the findings of Martha Farrell Erickson, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota and coauthor of The Motherhood Study, a comprehensive survey of 2,000 Ameri-can women, published in 2005. "Many mothers feel that the values they are trying to instill in their children are the exact opposite of the values of pop culture and the media," she says. "These women have the sense of spitting into the wind in terms of how hard it is to counteract messages of greed, commercialism, and sexuality."

And the world now seems a much more dangerous place. "My mother would let my sister and me go for 20-mile bike rides alone. I would never let my kids do that," says a Midwestern mother who homeschools her kids (and has recently taken in two foster children). "I'm always careful; I always make sure I know who my kids are with, and where."

Rethinking the guilt

As they cope with all this, women sometimes worry about not being quite the parents they'd like to be-and of those who worry, more than half also feel guilty. The surprise: Working mothers, even those on the career track, feel about the same amount of angst as the full-time moms-no more, no less.

But guilt has not gone away entirely, so let us count our respondents' reasons. The biggest: not having enough time for the kids. Other hot buttons:
- "Getting them the best education possible."
- "Providing for their future."
- "Not doing as many cultural things with my son as I should."
- "Not seeing my daughter as a separate person soon enough."
- And that one-word chiller: "Divorce."

Discipline is alive and well

At the end of the day, though, it seems today's mothers go to bed feeling proud-a staggering 99 percent give themselves a parenting grade of excellent or good. And while more than half of the women say they "spoil" their kids more than their own moms did them, discipline is another story. The vast majority say they are as strict as their mothers were, or even stricter, with their kids. "The baby boomers rejected discipline, and now we're seeing a swing back to a healthier cultural norm," says Dorothy Firman, Ed.D., a psychotherapist in Amherst, Massachusetts. "These mothers seem to be saying, You can let your children be who they are but also teach them limits and rules."

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