I consider myself a positive, look-on-the-bright-side type of person. But for some reason when it comes to being a parent I'm pretty hard on myself. I focus a lot on what I need to do better, and on what other parents are doing that I'm not.
For example, Griffin, my 5-year-old, has friends who are riding their bikes without training wheels. I worry because my husband and I haven't taught him how to ride a bike yet. I also feel a little guilty about the volcano-making kit that Griffin has been waiting a couple of months for me to do with him.
I could go on, but instead of stressing out about my deficiencies, I should think about my strengths. One is that I make reading a priority with my boys. I spend hours choosing books at the library, reading to them and playing word games.
In the spirit of giving moms and dads a pat on the back, I asked a few others what they do particularly well as parents.
A. McGuire, mother of Riley, 1, and Rory, 4, always tries to give them "mom" time. "It's been so different for me as a parent of two kids now. They need one-on-one attention that is easy to give with just one child. So for at least an hour a day, I will do anything they want with just them. Even if that means staying in the pool and getting shriveled, or reading the same book for two hours, I'll do it."
Riley and Rory's dad, D. McGuire, said he tries to be there when the boys need him.
"It's something I hope they remember as adults, that I was always around and there to love them, even if they made mistakes. I'm proud of them no matter what and always."
Wendy Wallbrunn, mother of three children, ages 21, 24 and 27, tries to "teach by example, avoid long lectures and power struggles, and use logical consequences when possible to deal with problem behaviors. I can remember several times when I took my eldest daughter out to the backyard sandbox to play, which totally neutralized the argumentative mood we'd both been in."
Hilary Greener, mom of Matthew, 6, Eric, 9, and J.P., 11, respects her sons as individuals. "Each has different likes and dislikes and personalities and ways of doing things. I make an extra effort to remember that."
The Greener family also sits down to eat dinner together every night. "It started when my oldest was just learning to eat solid foods at 4 months of age."
Striving to be a better parent is great. But let's not forget to reflect on the things we already do very well, and give ourselves some credit.
E-mail Kelley Helfand at firstname.lastname@example.org