Defining parental success

I overheard a couple of strangers in line and one woman who was buying champagne told that her daughter had just earned a doctorate.  The younger woman congratulated her on her daughter’s success as she hefted a package of Goodnites® Underpants onto the counter and said, “I’m kind of celebrating, too.  My four-year old stayed dry all night for the first time.” 

This exchange got me to thinking about how we, as parents, measure parenting success.  We all boast about our kids’ accomplishments, slap on the “My Kid Is An Honor Roll Student” bumper sticker, proudly display their trophies and awards, and proudly rave about their milestones in life.  Not to minimize these things that are vitally important for us as parents to take pride in and celebrate with our children, but do they really indicate my own success or failure in parenting?   

I started thinking about what really makes me feel successful as a parent and I was surprised to find the things that make me feel I’ve done well have nothing to do with excelling, winning, or reaching milestones, but everything to do with my child’s character. 

Like his grade school teacher saying Aaron went to and patted the back of another child who was upset and told him it was going to be okay. 

Sam telling his preschool teacher that she was wrong because he had seen what happened.  When I was called to the school and heard this I asked if he had a chance to say what he saw.  He had not, but then they did listen to him and confirmed what he said, and they discovered they were punishing the wrong child. 

When Hannah volunteered to sit with the hyperactive “someone just kill me now so I don’t have to deal with him” classmate because he would have felt bad to have to sit alone.  And not just once but the entire school year because she was determined to help him.   

When Sam collected socks and donated his birthday money to buy more so that all the men at the rescue mission would have a pair.   And then collected games so they would have something to do. 

Hearing my children pray for others.

Seeing my children open doors for others, pick up something dropped, or help an elderly woman get a cart unstuck.

Hearing from neighbors that my children have helped them by carrying in groceries or some other task that they volunteered to do.

Watching my children interact with family friends, make people welcome in our home, and act as host/hostess.

Hearing them say that they want to help, knowing that they will because they’ve offered to do so.

Knowing that I never have to talk with Hannah about her clothing choice and can trust her to make a good decision because she understands the value of modesty.

Knowing that my son has a tender heart beneath big muscles and that he isn’t ashamed or afraid to show that side of himself when he needs to do so.

Listening to my daughter talk about the people in her lives and how they have helped grow and shape her. 

Sam asking to make certain I sent the thank you cards he wrote because he appreciates that people think of him and give a gift when none is necessary.

Hannah donating her clothes rather than selling them in a garage sale.

My children showing by their responses that they appreciate and are thankful for whatever they are given.

Saying “I’m wrong” and then fixing it.

When they say thank you for the least things such as bringing home a package of gum, sewing name tags on uniforms, or moving their clothes from the washer to the drier for them. 

Sam coming to church to make sure I wasn’t sitting alone.

Hannah helping me change the cat litters every week…the stinkiest of tasks.

Sam calling as often as he can because he knows its important to me.

Understanding that money doesn’t grow on trees and it’s earned by hard work.

Never demanding or expecting but asking, politely.

Saying “I’m sorry” when it’s needed.

Saying “I forgive you” when it’s needed.

Saying “I’m here” when it’s needed.

Knowing that friends are always welcome and we’ll always accept them.

Knowing that as a family, our faith is important to us, and we trust in God in the big and small things.

For me, these things measure success as a parent because they define who that child/adult is, not only for now, but for a lifetime.   Their deliberate and natural actions and reactions, choices and decisions, tell me they are compassionate, caring, responsible, and trustworthy.  I couldn’t ask for more.  




2 thoughts on “Defining parental success

  1. Judy, I love that and love you for your beautiful, giving heart that loves and serves the Lord! Blessings to you and your daughter and grandsons!

  2. I learned a lovely lesson…quite by accident: When I was going through the trials of a slightly rebellious 19 year old daughter, it never occurred to me that I was raising my best friend for my old age. But I was. We weren’t best friends back then because somehow I understood I was the mother and impressed upon her that she was the daughter. I love hearing my words from twenty years ago come out of her mouth as she guides her two sons. And it’s funny, she does, too.

    Judy Beumler

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s