Ask Your Father

I'm A Good Parent

"I should say that more often."

Looking for dad-focused parenting stories? You're not alone. Ask Your Father is A Plus's space for fresh perspectives on family life and some good old-fashioned fatherly advice. Because dads deserve the chance to spill the tea — or the milk — too.

If I let my mental guard down for even a minute, I'm a terrible parent. It's not my kids who would say this, or my friends, or even strangers. It's what I would say to myself. I'm most definitely not a good parent.

I don't even have to do anything different in my parenting style for my mind to go there. I can go about my day still occasionally yelling at my kids, sometimes swearing, often looking at the stories of other parents raising 3-year-olds who have learned how to code, but do so without the usual "all parents do this" lens I usually look at life through, and come away thinking I've broken my kids.

This is something most of us do. I don't know if it's a byproduct of looking online at stories of parents we'd call great all day long or whether it's because we all see the Internet viciously react to a parent doing something we do all the time.

But for some reason, I find it easy to say:

"They are a good parent."

or,

"You are a good parent."

or,

"I am a bad parent."

But I find it nearly impossible to say:

"I am a good parent."

Or, when I do manage to find a block of time to tell this to myself, there's the other side of my brain right there ready to remind me of the time in the morning I didn't let my daughter have a second handful of Shreddies even though she used the word "please" when she asked for them or that my 3-year-old knows the word "fuck" and that I think I heard her whispering it to her bear that morning.

Well, fuck that.

"I'm a good parent."

I should say that more often. You should say it more often too. Even when you don't believe it. Especially when you don't believe it.

Because if someone were to ask me if I thought I was raising good kids, I'd be answering in the positive before the question had been completed. Because if someone were to ask me if my girls are going to change the world for the better, I'd have an easy time picturing their impact.

Because for every face full of tears that sits at the forefront of my memory, I can see hundreds of smiles poking out behind it. Because when I ask my daughter what it means to be beautiful, she answers "be kind."

Because saying "I'm not a good parent," means I'm allowing someone else's story to define my aptitude as a parent.

Because what we secretly hope as parents — that other parents are struggling too — is the truth. Because I have moments that make other parents feel like a bad parent and I know these moments are fleeting. Because I know when my child sits at a restaurant while someone else's kid doesn't, they'll use my kid as an example of how someone "should act." And because I'll know that's not true because next time the tables will be turned.

I'll say I'm a good parent because I am. There will be many times when others don't believe that and there will be more times that I don't believe that.

I'm not perfect, but I'm a good parent.

This story originally appeared on Mike Reynolds' blog, Puzzling Posts. Mike is the creator of Everyday Girl Dad, a social community and website that looks to empower fathers and men in positive discussions around feminism and masculinity. As a writer and a speaker, Mike tells stories behind the relationships between dads and daughters, exploring how that bond is instrumental in helping both parent and child understand the impact they have on making change in the world. He wants dads to be reassured it's okay to cry, to express emotion, and to build relationships through conversation. Mike lives in Ottawa with his partner and two daughters and can be easily spotted in a crowd thanks to his penchant for feminist T-shirts and tattoos of his daughters' artwork. You can follow him on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Cover image via Unsplash  

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