Why You're a Great Mom, No Matter How You Mother
By Aviva Patz
Wonder if you're doing the whole mommy thing right? Here's how to tune in to your instincts and know for sure.
I remember one day when my daughter Sadie, now 5, was still just crawling. A friend came over with her baby for a playdate. When she arrived, she looked around and asked, "Where's Sadie?" I shrugged casually and said, "I don't know. I think she went upstairs." My friend, who never let her own child out of her sight, was aghast — I had allowed my daughter to go up the stairs all by herself! It made me wonder: Am I too laid-back? Am I a bad mom?
Fortunately, parenting is not one-size-fits-all. "What works for one mom may not work for another — or her kids," says Michelle Borba, author of 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. And it's important to get comfortable with your innate parenting style. "If you're always worrying — am I doing it right? — it could hinder your ability to parent effectively," says marriage, family, and child therapist Lisa Dunning, author of Good Parents Bad Parenting. "But if you trust yourself as a parent, you can focus on what's best for you and your child." What's more, feeling secure about your own style actually makes you a better parent — you're not constantly "trying on" other moms' methods, which can confuse your kids. "When you're confident and reliable in your parenting, kids know what's expected of them, and they learn to trust you and feel safe," Dunning says. Follow these five steps to get comfortable with your particular parenting style and make the most of it.
Stop the compar-a-thon.
"Other people are our worst enemy when it comes to destroying our instincts," says Mary DeBiccari, 35, of Lake Grove, NY, who has two kids, 5 and 2, and a third on the way. "When a friend would say, 'You use wipes instead of washcloths?' and 'How could you not feed on demand?' I would second-guess everything I did." Try to tune out those unsolicited opinions. "When it comes to how your child adapts and copes and his unique emotional and physical needs, you're the expert," Borba says. "And when you go with what you know is right for your child, it will make you the best possible parent." Mary Werner, 37, a mom of three in St. Louis, often scrutinizes other moms — and imagines they're doing the same to her. But a little perspective goes a long way toward deflecting her self-doubt: "I realize that one situation — on the playground or in the grocery store — is such a limited view of what a parent is like overall," she says. "The mom who's really good at making up fun games may be terrible at handling tantrums. There's just no such thing as a perfect mom."