How should you be a good mother? You try every day to do the best for your children, providing them with food, responding to their needs, playing with them, teaching them to walk and read, to follow their dreams and hold them close when they have nightmares or are afraid.
But… how can you tell if everything you’re doing is right? When raising children, it’s unrealistic to try to be the perfect mother or father.
In fact, the goal is much more simple: you need to be present at every phase of your child’s life to provide support, encourage their independence, and of course, help them find happiness.
Another fact of life, however, is that you can’t give your child everything they want, but rather, what they need at any given time.
This means that a lot of the time you’ll find yourself having to say “no,” setting limits, and doing things that your child may not like. However, under no circumstances does saying “no” make you a bad mother.
Let’s talk a little more about this interesting theme.
1. Don’t pay attention during a tantrum
Perhaps your child is at that age where they start to demand things.
They want to play with your cell phone, have more dessert after dinner, get the same toy that their friend has…and you’ve denied it. That’s when your child reacts in a tantrum, sometimes even kicking and screaming.
You’re not a bad mother if you choose to ignore them. This is the best course of action you can take because if you acknowledge this kind of behavior you’re reinforcing it, allowing them to believe that it’s serving a purpose.
Tantrums should always be ignored because they have no use: it’s how your child learns to blackmail you, and you should never allow it.
See also: 5 emotional wounds from childhood
2. Don’t help them do easy tasksIf your child doesn’t learn to resolve simple tasks early on or meet their daily needs, they’ll reach adulthood without independence and responsibility for themselves. This is a danger you need to learn to correct from the beginning.
Refusing to tie their shoes or solve homework problems doesn’t make you a bad mother – it encourages your child to be more responsible. They might be upset at first, telling you they can’t, it’s too hard, they don’t know how.
But everything will be fine whether the bed gets made today or they’ve made an error in their homework. The bottom line is that tomorrow they will try hard to do better, and learn that it feels good to be able to do things on their own without your help.
3. You’re not a bad mother if you say the word “no”
Child psychologists tell us that the critical age when children start wanting to make their own decisions and challenge their parents is around eight years old. This is when they begin to understand basic concepts of justice, morality, and respect.
It’s important that you make every effort to guide them in the appropriate manner. They need your love, support, and daily guidance.
If you find yourself saying “no” more often than you like to your child, it doesn’t’ mean you’re a bad mother. You’re setting boundaries, teaching them what they can and cannot do, as well as what’s expected of them at all times.
If today you won’t let your child play on the computer before they finish their homework, make sure you set that rule every day. If your rules aren’t consistent, and what’s permitted today is forbidden tomorrow, your child won’t know what to expect.
Don’t be afraid to say “no” whenever necessary, but always try to explain the reason for it in a way that they can understand.
Here are some examples: “You can’t go outside to play until you finish your homework,” or “You’re too young to stay out at night,” and “You don’t get to have dessert when you don’t feel well enough to finish your dinner.”
We recommend reading: 10 toxins that harm children
4. You’re not a bad mother for not being present every single momentThis is one of the biggest fears that a mother has. Of course, you want to spend every waking moment with your child, but thanks to long work hours and difficult schedules it’s impossible for most people to pick their child up for lunch every day, for example.
Don’t worry. It doesn’t make you a bad mother if you’re not with your child every second. What matters is that the time you spend with them be quality time, filled with love and care.
When you’re at home with your child, make them your absolute priority. Listen to everything they say, their worries, their off-hand remarks. Make every second you do spend together worthwhile.
Children must grow up to understand that we all have responsibilities – you have to work, and they have school. It’s not easy to be together 24 hours a day, and it’s not necessary.
Children need to learn to stand up for themselves, always knowing that if they ever need you, you’ll be there instantly and with open arms.