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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : To Be A Successful Parent » To Be A Successful Parent

To Be A Successful Parent

Susan M - March 4, 2008

What does it mean?

I suspect most people would say if their kids are well-adjusted, productive adults, who are able to earn a good living for their own families, they’d consider themselves successful parents.

Latter-Day Saints have all kinds of other considerations, of course. Are my kids active in the church? Did they serve missions? Get married in the temple?

Do they have a testimony of the gospel? When my kids were small, I always thought that was the most important thing I could give them. A testimony of the gospel. I still think so. Unfortunately, it’s not something you can give someone. They have to get it on their own.

You can’t force your kids to do anything (dang it). You can teach them skills. Help them develop good habits. But kids are people too. And they make their own choices (dang it).

I want my kids to know what their strengths are. What they’re good at. What they enjoy doing. So they can pursue it. I didn’t know until I was married with three kids where my skills lied. It took me years to get to know myself that well.

So what is a successful parent?

Is Heavenly Father a successful parent?

16 Comments »

  1. My bishop and his wife are two of the most normal, well-adjusted, cool, spiritually-prioritized parents I know, and two of their kids are major head cases. I don’t think being a successful parent necessarily means you’re always going to spit out stellar product. I dunno… go ask Alma.

    Comment by David T. — March 4, 2008 @ 8:58 pm

  2. I dunno for sure. I’m still in the trenches with little ones, and the answer changes every day.

    I suppose if I look at where I feel my mom failed me, it would be in supporting your kids for who they are; not pressing them into a form you want. Being encouraging, loving and open would be a good start.

    Comment by tracy m — March 4, 2008 @ 11:19 pm

  3. Sometimes, when pondering some of my older aged children, I understand why Satan drew away 1/3 of the spirits. Letting them have the free agency while watching them make major mistakes IMHO is really really hard. I try to remind myself that we TAUGHT them. while they were young. And if they choose to go their own way, it is their life.

    but it’s still hard to watch and not blame myself. Surely there was something I did wrong, or did not do, that could have affected them in a better way so that they would choose better.

    Comment by annahannah — March 5, 2008 @ 9:59 am

  4. I like Tracy’s answer: Being encouraging, loving and open. That doesn’t mean your kids will turn out to be good people, but at least you tried.

    Perhaps parental success is in the journey?

    Comment by Cheryl — March 5, 2008 @ 10:51 am

  5. I think the idea of parenting and ideal parents has certainly changed over the years.

    I think parents today indulge their kids too much. I think the pander to their kids demands too much. I think they “give” their kids too much. I think they discipline too little. I think they worry too much about “self esteem” and too little about what’s right.

    I think good parents are the one’s who are parents not letting the kids be the parent. The one’s who are involved but not too involved. The one’s who allow their kids to grow, but direct the growth. They teach the gospel, testify of Christ and set the example.

    Luckily my wife and I did all these things and our kids turned out wonderful. (Ok…maybe not, but the kids did turn out to be great kids)

    Comment by Don — March 5, 2008 @ 11:26 am

  6. I’m glad to hear that Dad thinks we turned out to be great kids! I hope that we can do as well as they did with us.

    This is a topic near and dear to my heart and I have strong opinions on many things concerning children. I agree with Dad that parents nowadays are spoiling their kids too much. I think a lot of it has to do with selfish parenting.

    It’s hard to know what successful parenting is when you have little ones and are in the trenches everyday. I recently had a conversation with my mom about raising kids and asked her if she had any regrets and/or what she would do differently (since she has crossed the finish line of raising kids and I’m near the starting line.) She had several answers that I won’t share here but I think that everyone should stop and ponder every once in a while about your own parenting style, what you want to improve on and what you want to continue. I think that it takes 20 years or so to see the results of your labor. That’s a long time. Hopefully I’m doing okay. Or at least good enough so that when I fall into my bed every night I KNOW that I did my best for my children that day.

    Comment by Angela — March 5, 2008 @ 2:36 pm

  7. I’m glad to hear that Dad thinks we turned out to be great kids! I hope that we can do as well as they did with us.

    This is a topic near and dear to my heart and I have strong opinions on many things concerning children. I agree with Dad that parents nowadays are spoiling their kids too much. I think a lot of it has to do with selfish parenting.

    It’s hard to know what successful parenting is when you have little ones and are in the trenches everyday. I recently had a conversation with my mom about raising kids and asked her if she had any regrets and/or what she would do differently (since she has crossed the finish line of raising kids and I’m near the starting line.) She had several answers that I won’t share here but I think that everyone should stop and ponder every once in a while about your own parenting style, what you want to improve on and what you want to continue. I think that it takes 20 years or so to see the results of your labor. That’s a long time. Hopefully I’m doing okay. Or at least good enough so that when I fall into my bed every night I KNOW that I did my best for my children that day.

    Comment by Angela — March 5, 2008 @ 2:37 pm

  8. I’m glad to hear that Dad thinks we turned out to be great kids! I hope that we can do as well as they did with us.

    This is a topic near and dear to my heart and I have strong opinions on many things concerning children. I agree with Dad that parents nowadays are spoiling their kids too much. I think a lot of it has to do with selfish parenting.

    It’s hard to know what successful parenting is when you have little ones and are in the trenches everyday. I recently had a conversation with my mom about raising kids and asked her if she had any regrets and/or what she would do differently (since she has crossed the finish line of raising kids and I’m near the starting line.) She had several answers that I won’t share here but I think that everyone should stop and ponder every once in a while about your own parenting style, what you want to improve on and what you want to continue. I think that it takes 20 years or so to see the results of your labor. That’s a long time. Hopefully I’m doing okay. Or at least good enough so that when I fall into my bed every night I KNOW that I did my best for my children that day.

    Comment by Angela — March 5, 2008 @ 2:38 pm

  9. Maybe the question should be “what is a successful child”? Are they givers rather than takers? Are they blessing the lives of others? Are they positive contributors to society/community/church? If they are, then I believe that’s the answer to “what is a successful parent”. Notice nowhere did I mention missions, church activity, or temple marriage. All three of those areas acompletely controlled by the agency of the individual, but if a child is a giver rather than a taker, they probably saw the parents do the same thing. My mother was a big time school volunteer and guess what? So am I.

    Comment by Larry Beck — March 5, 2008 @ 2:53 pm

  10. For me, I think being a successful parent happens when your kids feel safe and secure around you, want to share with you, know that you love them and support them and that, as a parent, you wish the best for them.

    Parenting doesn’t come with guarantees that any child will grow up and be “successful” because success has too many definitions and therefore can’t be pigeon holed. But if a child feels secure with their parents and has a desire to reflect that love and respect then I think there is success.

    Anecdotal: My in laws. They have 8 children who have grown to various levels of respectable adults. One child has strayed and veered and been a complete mess. However, she adores her parents, she ‘respects’ them, she feels safe in their presence. There is some good parenting that went on that enables that relationship to continue, even through the drugs, etc.

    They have provided ways for her to clean up, make right and get her life back, however it’s still up to her. She knows they are there when she’s ready. It’s the same parenting that Heavenly Father has for us.

    Comment by s'mee — March 5, 2008 @ 7:03 pm

  11. S’mee you’re so wise.

    Comment by Susan M — March 5, 2008 @ 7:38 pm

  12. I believe that being a successful parent involves allowing children to make age-appropriate choices and then live with those choices. It’s about teaching children to look inward, think something through, make a choice, and let the consequences follow (good or bad). My parents, bless their hearts, “tried” to teach us kids to obey– obey them, church authority, teachers, adults. It’s a good thing that they have really good common sense but it didn’t work for me. Instead, I learned to rebel against most rules placed in front of me, not because I disagreed with a rule, but merely to assert my ability to ignore it. I wish they had taught me not obedience, but rather making choices. I probably wouldn’t have been nearly as rebelious as I was in my teens through about 25 yeas old.

    My daughter is 8 and since I can remember, I’d give her choices. They’re usually pretty obvious, like: “Ok, if you don’t want to brush your teeth then don’t. If you brush your teeth, you can have gummy candies. If you don’t, there will be no sweets or snacks at all tomorrow. Think about it and let me know what you’ve decided.” Instead of us getting in a screaming match, she’d invariably make the right choice and then she owned that decision.

    Then hopefully they develop a good moral compass through the examples of others to continue making good choices throughout her life.

    To me… missions, temple marriages, church attendance and the like are not indicative of good or bad parenting.

    Comment by Lulubelle — March 6, 2008 @ 12:28 pm

  13. I believe that being a successful parent involves allowing children to make age-appropriate choices and then live with those choices. It’s about teaching children to look inward, think something through, make a choice, and let the consequences follow (good or bad). My parents, bless their hearts, “tried” to teach us kids to obey– obey them, church authority, teachers, adults. It’s a good thing that they have really good common sense but it didn’t work for me. Instead, I learned to rebel against most rules placed in front of me, not because I disagreed with a rule, but merely to assert my ability to ignore it. I wish they had taught me not obedience, but rather making choices. I probably wouldn’t have been nearly as rebelious as I was in my teens through about 25 yeas old.

    My daughter is 8 and since I can remember, I’d give her choices. They’re usually pretty obvious, like: “Ok, if you don’t want to brush your teeth then don’t. If you brush your teeth, you can have gummy candies. If you don’t, there will be no sweets or snacks at all tomorrow. Think about it and let me know what you’ve decided.” Instead of us getting in a screaming match, she’d invariably make the right choice and then she owned that decision.

    Then hopefully they develop a good moral compass through the examples of others to continue making good choices throughout her life.

    To me… missions, temple marriages, church attendance and the like are not indicative of good or bad parenting.

    Comment by Lulubelle — March 6, 2008 @ 12:29 pm

  14. For me, I think being a successful parent happens when your kids feel safe and secure around you, want to share with you,

    But see, this is also dependent on how the CHILD sees things, which is very much the same as judging on temple worthiness, etc. because it is subject to the whims (um, free agency) of the child.

    I think that Angela hit it on the head in #7, that a successful parent can only be judged on THEIR EFFORT, whether they have done the best they can that day.

    Can you tell that I’ve been through teen years with some of mine already, when I was considered embarassing and stupid, but somehow a few years later became smart and worthwhile in their eyes?

    I can easily imagine that a parent might do everything within their power to make a child feel safe and secure, and yet the child rejects the parent and will not share.

    Comment by Naismith — March 7, 2008 @ 5:08 am

  15. I like to think about success as a parent as being good enough.

    A good enough parent is one who provides for the physical needs the child and provides a safe environment for growth. A good enough parent is not perfect. A good enough parent makes mistakes. That does not make the parent responsible for the decisions made by the child. The good enough parent teaches the child the basic principles of the gospel and encourages the child to make wise choices.

    A good enough parent does not load him/herself down with guilt over the decisions children over the age of accountability make. They do not blame themselves when adult children make unwise and damaging choices. A good enough parent realizes that some things are out of their control and that ultimately children will decide for themselves how they will live and confront the problems of the world.

    Comment by Stepheny — March 8, 2008 @ 5:18 pm

  16. since she has crossed the finish line of raising kids and I’m near the starting line

    I think most parents would say that, while there may be a starting line, there is no finish line. You never spike the ball and do the touchdown dance. It’s never over, it’s eternal.

    I think being a successful parent means that your kids understand three things from you through your words and actions and know that you believe them with all your heart:

    1. We love you unconditionally;

    2. The gospel is true and we rejoice in it;

    3. We want to be with you in the eternities.

    Comment by MCQ — March 10, 2008 @ 4:00 pm

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