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Parenting: What Makes A Good Parent

Updated on August 28, 2014

What Makes a Good Parent?

Parenting requires patience, love and a desire to make the world a better place.
Parenting requires patience, love and a desire to make the world a better place. | Source

What makes a good parent? Is there a special parent gene that "kicks in" when we become parents? Can we look at someone and determine from how they look if they are good parents? Surely we can look around and observe parents that we surmise must be good, or can we? Their children are clean, dressed in cute, matching kid clothes. The two children both have monitors in the middle seat of their mom's SUV in order that they can watch whatever they choose on short trips to the store and on the way home from school. They eat organic food, take ballet lessons and play soccer. They have shelves of books and dvds, toys, all the latest gadgets, expensive technology.

Their parents are successful professionals and work hard to provide a comfortable lifestyle and home for their family. The mom is even able to work flexible hours in order to have more time with the children. They look like good, modern parents. The kids look like happy kids. Is this what it takes? Let's take a look at a fictional family, one that we may recognize in real life.

RED Symbolizes

Life, Energy, Strength, Passion, LOVE
Life, Energy, Strength, Passion, LOVE

Family Portraits

The children both had an assignment at the beginning of the new school year. They were to paint a picture of their family doing something memorable during summer vacation. The little girl painted a cute beach scene with bright blue water and a yellow sun and a striped beach ball, and her brother playing on his wave board. The mom had on sunglasses and a floppy sunhat and she was holding something to her ear. The little girl labeled her picture and painted an arrow to the phone her mom was holding and underlined the word with a broad stroke of black paint. The dad was watching something on his Ipad. Another broad stroke of black paint underlined IPAD.

The boy painted a picture of fireworks exploding into a dark blue, black sky. Big, sparkling stars and whirly gigs of purple, gold, silver, green, blue, colors almost like a rainbow. He painted many people, but only the backs of them. They were looking at the fireworks. He said he didn't know which ones were his family because they weren't looking at him, only at the fireworks. He said it was fun but it was really hot and crowded and it took them a long time to get out of the parking lot. They both said they had fun during summer vacation.

So, what's the problem? These sound like fun, happy memories of time spent together as a family. But both teachers noticed the same thing. Something was missing. There was no red paint in their paintings.

[This illustration is for the purpose of making a point. I make no claims that the lack of red paint in a child's painting proves anything. It is in reference to the symbolic representation of the color red and a line from I Am Sam.]

Spend Quality Time


No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids.  ~Bill Cosby

What Makes A Good Parent?

A parent can have everything and give everything to their children, but without passion and that red arrow pointing to their kids hearts, parents are missing the most essential. "I want the red paint. How do I get it?"

There is a scene in the movie, I Am Sam, where Sam is struggling to convey the attributes of a good parent. When asked, 'what makes you think you're a good parent', he says;

"it takes constancy, patience, it's about listening and it's about pretending to listen even when you can't listen anymore and it's about love... see, he has a home with me and I made it the best I could. And it's not perfect and I'm not a perfect parent and sometimes I don't have enough patience and I forget he's just a kid, but we've built a life together and we love each other."

That's it, that's what it takes. There's our red paint. You're now the red in their paintings. If you've watched this movie, you remember the tears streaming down your face during this scene. Being a good or even a great parent is not easy, parenting doesn't go on hold when we're tired or during the difficult times when we don't have an answer. We make mistakes, we forget we're imprinting our children with the words we use, our biases, the choices we make.

Listen From Your Heart

Children sense when we listen from that deep place within our hearts.
Children sense when we listen from that deep place within our hearts. | Source

Listen To Your Children

Instead of worrying that everything is perfect, why not get down on the floor and draw silly pictures or build sand castles at the edge of the shore. Why not forget trying to be a perfect parent when our kids simply want us to BE with them, to be mom and dad, a family.

They want us to look in their eyes, their faces, hold their hand, build a lego ship, help them find a dress for the prom, make play dough fruit, slide down the slide, shoot some hoops, show them how to hold the ball glove, listen to their new song.


They even want to hear us say no and mean it, because it shows them we really care, although they'll never tell. They want to feel a part of who we are. What makes a good parent will look different within each family because there are so many varying factors that affect how we parent, but the common thread is made of patience, consistency, quality time, listening, building a family together in love.


Modern Day Parenting Tips From an Early Childhood Educator/Parent

  • Your two year old does not need an Ipad.
  • Read (real books) to your child daily beginning at infancy.
  • Allow your child to make mistakes, it's part of the developmental/learning process.
  • Limit screen time to no more than an hour daily for preschoolers/early elementary age.
  • Middle school aged children need to stay physically active.
  • Turn off the noise, silence is fine and healthy.
  • Children do not constantly need to be entertained, engaged.
  • Teach children self-discipline at a very young age. A toddler can place their dirty clothes in a basket/hamper.
  • Junk food does not belong in your kitchen or your child's body, (especially at breakfast).
  • A parent is the child's most significant role model.
  • No matter how tired you are, be excited to see and be with your children. Show affection.
  • Teach your children how to listen by listening to them first.
  • There's nothing more disheartening than a rude, disrespectful child.
  • Please and thank you should be part of a toddler's beginning vocabulary.
  • Allow your child to make believe and imagine. Read fairy tales together.
  • Always have a good set of crayons, markers, paints and blank paper easily accessible.
  • Set reasonable boundaries with logical, natural consequences when broken.
  • Enjoy your role as a parent, even when it's difficult. Your child needs you at these times.
  • Breathe, and count to ten.

A father's goodness is higher than the mountain, a mother's goodness deeper than the sea.
-- Japanese Proverb

Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.
-- C. Everet Koop, M.D.

Land of Yes from Sarasota Film Festival youthFEST

Thank You For Reading and Please Feel Free To Leave a Comment.

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    • Theater girl profile image


      7 years ago from New Jersey

      I think that we all do the best that we can. I am a teacher and it is infinitely easier than being a parent! But I am a better teacher because I became a mom and a better mom because I am a teacher. All things work together. Thanks for the tips and sharing your ideas!

    • gajanis786 profile image


      8 years ago from Pakistan

      Yes I agree with you in your points written in the hubs as I think there is no fixed yardstick to measure a good and a bad is only your loving and caring actions towards your kids that determines your degree of a good parent....thanks.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      A good parent showers their children with love and affection.

    • dotty1 profile image


      9 years ago from In my world

      really enjoyed your a single mum I constantly worry about my children and strive to be the best..its hard sometimes hehe but am approaching teenage parenting with an optimism as I remember only too well how it feels....

      I want my children to have fond memories of me and their childhood and they are fantastic kids ...but I struggle with the guilt of having to work full time (dosent every mum i know) sigh...they are so precious

    • HealthyHanna profile image


      9 years ago from Utah

      I agree. We parents need to focus our time, not our money where our hearts truly are...our children.

    • bettybarnesb profile image


      9 years ago from Bartlett, TN

      Enjoyed your article. Keep writing!

    • smartestkidsever profile image


      9 years ago

      I totally agree with the fact that parents have to interactive with our children. In today's world, there is so much stress that we as married and single parents endure. We have to remember that we can't always dwell on what is happening in the world. We have to look at what is right in front of us.

      Our children our so important that we have to take the time to show them that they are special. It is okay if the dishes in the sink wait a couple of hours, the laundry needs to be put away, or the floor needs to be swept again. We need to take the time to play and interact with our children.

      My children like to play alone alot, but then there are those times they just need mom and/or dad to play with. Like last week we got a bunch of snow. They needed us to play with them. It was great to bundle up and try to make a snowman, fall and make snow angels, and jump into the piled up snow banks. All three of my girls had a blast. Memories that will last a life time. It is great when we can focus just on them, especially when they need it.

      Great article!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Princessa, what a lovely memory of your childhood. I think a lot of us have those kind of memories that stick out and help us, and yet there are also so many who don't have memories like this. It only takes a few minutes of undivided attention with children for them to connect and feel loved, acknowledgment of being present. thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

      @winged, thanks for adding so much insight certainly got the message that I am making. everything can appear so perfect, and yet parenting can grossly lack what Princessa was referring to in her comment, taking time to fully be present with our children. I think there are startling statistics published in a journal about how much undivided time is daily given to our children, it is less than 10 minutes. many parents simply aren't aware that listening is truly a skill and it takes daily practice to master, as most skills do.

      the significance of the red paint missing is symbolic, from a scene in I Am Sam, and how the passion and energy that the color red symbolizes was missing not only in their paintings, but in their families.

      again, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 

      9 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Good Day rebekahElle

      I voted this hub up for useful. This works for me on at least two levels, even though I am not a parent yet. First of all the writing is superb. I like the.... ironic, I guess, teasing, almost goading style you employed for the first few paragraphs -- luring the complacent and into the trap and then SSSSNAP! Things are not what they seem -- that's a very effective fiction-technique you put to good use in nonfiction.

      Also, if one knows what to look for it is perfectly obvious what is missing in the two scenes you outlined for us. I'm not quite clear about the significance of missing red paint in the children's drawings of their memories of a summer vacation scene.

      When the boy drew a picture of a bunch of people, only their backs, and he said he couldn't pick out his own family.... well, that is quite revealing. They were not "looking at" him. Nobody picked him up and put him on their shoulders -- that's what I'd do. No one, apparently, even held his hand or gave his shoulders a squeeze. No one ruffled his hair....

      When the little girl drew her picture and drew specific attention to the phone her mother was speaking into, and the ipod her father was listening to -- we can realize that the scene IS MOST EMPHATICALLY NOT AS HAPPY AS IT APPEARS ON THE SURFACE.

      The message is clear and unambiguous. You don't have to be perfect (you can't anyway) as a parent, you just have to BE there for them, as "Sam" said.

      Good work, rebekahElle!


    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      9 years ago from France

      Listening is so easy and yet so difficult.

      We are always busy doing something and to disconnect for a few minutes and just listen to what your children have to say is not always evident. I remember when I was child, some of my dearest memories are those of my father playing dolls with me on the floor. He played the doctor and I was the nurse bringing all the sick dollies to him, he was so patient just sitting there and listening to all the dollies complaints!

      Sometimes to make a child happy you just need time and patience :)

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      @richtwf, what a beautiful philosophy of life you have.

      I love the equation of love=life=time! I think you've got it down. thanks for leaving such a helpful comment.

      @wordscribe43, I'm so happy to see you active again at HP. I'm sure you're a very loving, compassionate parent. I know the feeling about wondering, but sometimes maybe we worry too much. They surprisingly take a lot in that we're not aware of until later in their lives. If love is the foundation, I tend to believe we will do the right thing, even if sometimes it's difficult. thank you for commenting WS. :)

      @dashingscorpio, thanks for reading and I love your comments. Every one of your descriptions are great attributes of good parenting. I appreciate your time in leaving such a helpful comment. :]

    • dashingscorpio profile image


      9 years ago from Chicago

      A good parent remembers what it was like to be a chld.

      A good parent makes sure their kids can come to them and talk about anything on their minds without being belittled or not taken seriously.

      A good parent showers their children with love and affection.

      A good parent helps to create an enviroment during a child's formative years which encourages developing a high self-esteem and confidence.

      A good parent never confuses his/her role with being a friend to the child. They command respect and offer tough discipline when it's warranted.

      A good parent prepares their child for adulthood by making sure they are instilled with the proper morals, educated, and a solid work ethic to become a self-reliant positive contributing member of our society

    • wordscribe43 profile image

      Elsie Nelson 

      9 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      I ask myself this question everyday. There is nothing in the world more important to me... I think you have struck upon the most important parental quality: being an active listener. I like the part about imprinting, too. I am constantly wondering what I'm writing on their former tabula rasas and hope it's something positive to get them through the vicissitudes of life. Anyway, great to see you've gained talent when I was gone. xo

    • richtwf profile image


      9 years ago

      One of my favourite topics of discussion - parenting. The greatest responsibility we'll ever have and hold is our duty to raise and teach our children well. If we don't then we risk jeopardising their future and the future of the world.

      We need immense reserves of patience and understanding and sometimes we need to go back in time and to really empathise and understand the needs of our children.

      Our children need the presence of their parents and not the substitute of presents to make amends for their absence and lack of time spent with their children.

      I wrote a recent hub where I stated that the equation of life is:

      LOVE = LIFE = TIME

      That really sums up for me. Bringing children into the world is the easier part, the harder part is raising them and caring for them 24/7. A thankless task at times but to serve them well while they're so young and dependent upon you, you need to give them the most precious gift of all - time and by giving time, you show them love and that's what children really need.

      Great parents bring great life into the world and they give their children all the time and love that they need, in order to grow and flourish and live meaningful lives.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      prasetio, thanks for reading. I think you must be an excellent teacher and in some respects you may be like a father figure to some of your students. we can learn so much from the children. :)

      @katiem, thanks for reading and commenting. you sound like an honest, loving parent. I agree, sometimes we need to apologize and I think our children respect us more when we are able to let them know that sometimes we blow it and say the wrong words. we're all human and no one is going to get it right all the time. and thanks for the congrats. :)

    • katiem2 profile image

      Katie McMurray 

      9 years ago from Westerville

      Good stuff on parenting what makes a good parent. I've found I sometimes loose my patience and in the fast pace or rush of the day press my two daughters a bit. I think about how it makes them feel afterwards and say, "please forgive me for anything I may have said or done that hurt you or made you feel bad, I realize afterwards I may have been a bit pushy or harsh, so please forgive me for I would never do or say anything intentionally to hurt you, I love you and I only want to give you every opportunity I may try to hard at times"

      This lets my kids know I'm aware that I make mistakes and am willing to correct them and that they are the most important things in the world to me. Peace :) Congrats on your 100 score :)

    • prasetio30 profile image


      9 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I am not a father, right now. Because I am still single. But based the experience by my student's parent. They often share with me, how they try to be a good parent. I got the positive side and I have practice someday. But Every day I have to become a good teacher for my student. Very well explanation. Listening the children is the most important this beside the parent's approach. I'll bookmark this one. Thank you very much for share beautiful thought.


    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks supertek. it's interesting that this subject is in the news [as it should be]. I heard yesterday on the Today Show that research was done in England and a large percentage of parents said playing with their children was boring or they didn't feel like getting down on the floor and playing after a day at work. I think this is sad because our children grow up very fast and this time we have with them while they are growing and learning at such a rapid rate helps shape their character and expectations about life.

      Playing or spending some quality time makes such a difference. The children interviewed for the above research said they simply want time where their parents pay attention to them. many times parents are simply telling their children either what to do or what not to do.. thanks for sharing here!

      @miss jkim, yes, you were/are a blessed mom! I love to hear these stories. often it is not available any longer because of economic necessities, but how nice when a parent sets aside time just to be with the kids. thank you for sharing! :]

    • miss_jkim profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice Hub rebekah,

      I was one of the blessed moms that got to stay at home and raise my kids. We had a blast, took walks in the woods, finger painted, played with clay, and did some kind of craft project every day. Our house was the neighborhood "day care" because all the kids hung out with us to do the "fun stuff".

      I wouldn't trade one minute of those times, they were precious. After the kids were all in school, mom went to work - in the school office.

      My children are grown with their own kiddos, we are still very close and I enjoy my time with my grandkids just as much as I did with their parents. We have made many wonderful memories and are a very close knit family.

    • Supertek78 profile image


      9 years ago from Leesburg Va

      I think you're on the right track rebekah. In our time, right now it seems all the things we "need", cell phones, internet, laptops, DVD players in our carsl they tend to take away from basic, simple one on one time with our family. I think we could all use some red paint, our children just want real attention from us, like they get from their little friends. You know, that undevided attention where you can just talk, play and create fun with an imagination. It's not all about buying them a Nintendo DS so they can dissolve into their own world which requires less from you.


    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks timorous, I think you're right. kids do remember those who give them time and attention. and they will have a strong foundation on which to grow when love is never taken for granted. :]

      Hi Don, thanks! I think that sounds like a great topic! Many people want to read about what works with families. You can write from experience. I would enjoy reading about these lucky children. :)

    • Don Simkovich profile image

      Don Simkovich 

      9 years ago from Pasadena, CA

      Nice Hub. I need to start writing Hubs about why we adopted out of foster care and took in two teen boys as guardians.

    • timorous profile image

      Tim Nichol 

      9 years ago from Me to You

      Even though I've never had any children, I've had the pleasure of entertaining a handful of nieces and nephews over the years. Although they had several aunts and uncles who could have gotten down to play with them on their level, I was the only one who consistently chose to do so. I could tell they were thrilled to have me play with them..and so was I.

      I'll bet if you asked any of them today..who their favourite uncle was when they were kids, I'd likely be their first (and perhaps only) choice. [I don't mean to brag of course]

      I totally agree,'s vitally important to 'be there' for your children, as much as possible. All that other stuff is merely 'providing the necessities of life'. Without that constant magic ingredient "LOVE", the picture is incomplete.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      skgrao, I went to your profile and noticed that you are from India. After spending many years in the classroom, I have noticed some of the brightest, most disciplined students are from India. I applaud the parents for being so involved in their children's education. I saw this even with the youngest in the preschool setting.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Hello skgaro, I would agree that intelligence helps in giving children a great head start. a good parent comes in many different guises. there are certainly many times parenting requires discipline, restraint and saying no. I think good parents help to give that strong foundation for learning. thanks for commenting.

    • skgrao profile image

      S K G Rao. 

      9 years ago from Bangalore City - INDIA.

      The present and future generation kids need very intelligent parents,not good parent,to be good always is like eating only sweets.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      this hub was inspired from watching the movie I Am Sam over the weekend. It made me think of what's really essential in our families. enjoy. xo


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