Examples of Good Parenting

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Emma, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. Emma

    Emma Your resident resident

    I'm not sure if this should go here, or in ITA? But I thought we could have a place where we post examples of what we think Good Parenting looks like :) As a sort of counterbalance to all the Bad Parenting a lot of people around here seem stuck with :(

    I'll start!

    Background: I am graduating very very soon, and need to find a job. I've been trying, but no luck so far. I'm moving back in with my parents on the first of February.

    Story: Yesterday I was on the phone with my mum (we talk pretty much every night) and at one point she asked me if I'd managed to send out some job applications that day. This gave me anxiety because I wanted to go to bed, and my brain was screaming at me: 'You still don't have a job! You still don't have a job!' And so I said to my mum: 'I know you mean well, and you want me to have a job. And I want me to have a job too! But could we please not talk about it unless I bring it up? It gives me anxiety' and my mum said: 'Sure, I can see why it's counter productive to talk about it, so I won't bring it up again unless you do'

    See also this example from a couple of years ago, when I still had regular exams and I asked my dad not to ask about exam results, because if I had results I would tell him, and in the meanwhile it made me anxious. He occasionally tripped up, but overall stopped asking :)

    Please, anybody feel free to chime in with your own experiences :)
    • Like x 9
  2. Emma

    Emma Your resident resident

    Today I needed some measurements from my room at my parents' house. So I used Whatsapp to send a message to my dad, asking if he could take three measurements, and also if I happened to have left a blue blazer and a grey pair of trousers there.
    After about 30 minutes he called me with the measurements, and the information that I had in fact left my clothes hanging on the outside of the wardrobe. After the exchange of necessary information we chatted for five minutes about our lives and then went about our own business again.

    Now I tell this story not to illustrate that Good Parenting means that your parents always do what you ask them to do. I tell this story to illustrate that I have the kind of relationship with my dad that allows me to ask him stuff like this without fear of consequences. I would also accept a no, because I trust my dad to have good reasons for saying no. My dad does stuff like this for me without resentment, or a tit-for-that expectation, as I would for him.

    • Like x 4
  3. WithAnH

    WithAnH Space nerd

    I kind of had a breakdown in my first year of grad school. I hid it from my parents for months until it became clear that a) I was going to fail all my classes and b) I didn't want to exist anymore. When I finally told them what was going on, my dad flew across the country to help me put my stuff in storage and drive home. He talked to the housing manager for me and got me out of the summer lease somehow. My mom made my doctor's appointments and got me in to see a therapist. They proceeded to feed me, let me sleep, monitor me while I had weird reactions to meds, help me get important adult things like taxes done, and generally treat me like someone recovering from a serious illness rather than a lazy screwup.

    I post this here because I've seen enough stories in ITA about parents reacting to their kids' mental illnesses by getting angry at their kids for inconveniencing them or punishing their kids for not being what they expected and it makes me want to flip a table. My parents' reaction was to do everything they could to help me get better with no strings attached. This is the normal parental reaction.

    (They were also horrified and apologetic that they hadn't known what was going on, even though I was a thousand miles away and actively hiding it from them - I think this is probably also normal even though it was irritating. Of course you didn't know. I didn't tell you and you're not psychic. This isn't your fault. Chill.)
    • Like x 9
  4. Emma

    Emma Your resident resident

    Oh yeah, when I was at the start of my depression in 2010 and all I could do was lie around in bed, and occasionally cry a lot and I had no idea what was wrong, my mum spent a lot of time with me. She listened to me cry about not knowing what was wrong, how I was sure I was going to fail my degree and shit like that, and was the one who suggested I go see the study advisor, which got the ball rolling from there.
    • Like x 2
  5. Saro

    Saro Where is wizard hut

    My parents certainly aren't perfect, but they have always been very supportive of me, what I wanted to do, and in decisions that I've made. For example, when I decided to fly across to the other side of the US to see my LD partner that I met while playing an MMORPG. I'm sure they were worried and scared, but they trusted me and my judgement and let me make the choice. They did stress that I could call them/come home at any time, no worries about money or anything, and to be sure to let them know how I was doing at frequent intervals. But I think that's pretty normal, and it wasn't like they were saying "You can't go unless you call every 6 hours"; it was more like "Please call us sometimes so we know you're okay".

    Something in particular they have been very great about is illness, both physical and mental. I've had some fairly long-term illnesses that have required many doctor/hospital visits (not even counting the most recent shenanigans, hahaha...hah...aha), and they always worked really hard to get me places I needed to go, help me deal with stuff like missing a bunch of school, being unable to take gym classes, etc., trying to help me feel better both physically and emotionally when things got really bad and I felt horrible, and the like. They've also been really good with mental illness, possibly because both of them have had depression and understand what it's like. It's been really great being able to just vent about anxieties I'm having or depressed moods or whatever without feeling like they're going to be angry or frustrated or impatient with me.
    • Like x 3
  6. anon person

    anon person actually a cat

    i don't have a specific story, but my parents tried really hard to be consistent in the way they treated me and my siblings, in what they allowed and didn't allow, and so on. i didn't know what a good thing that was until i started babysitting other people's kids and realized that some parents make decisions about their kids based on their feelings about the kid at the moment, and not based on established rules.

    despite all of the moving and stuff that came with being a military family, my life as a kid was really stable. the kids i babysit, almost everything in their lives depends on their parents' whims, and i can see how growing up like that makes them feel unsafe and exhausted. so, now that i'm an adult, i'm grateful that my parents had strictly-enforced rules like "don't run indoors" and "we only eat candy on sundays and special occasions" and had regular bedtimes and mealtimes when it was at all possible. the way they created a structure that didn't rely on their emotions and that stayed the same whether we were in public or in private made me feel safe.
    • Like x 8
  7. Verily

    Verily surprised Xue Yang peddler

    Like everyone, my parents aren't perfect, but they were completely amazing when I accidentally came out to them.

    I thought they already knew, but the last time the topic came up there were Giant Unrelated Life Events happening. Maybe we didn't ever have much of a discussion. I honestly don't remember.

    So I said my thing, and they both looked quite taken aback. There was a brief exchange in which we established that yes I was bi, no they didn't know, and oh I thought they did.

    Then my mom said she hoped I never had any doubts that God loved me (we are all Christian), and they both gave me a hug. It was still pretty awkward, but a loving and supportive brand of awkward. They're good people, even when they don't know exactly what to do.
    • Like x 6
  8. Lazarae

    Lazarae The tide pod of art

    My parents aren't perfect- great people, not great parents. I was removed from them, but because they had trouble taking care of themselves. They took care of me, often to the point of neglecting themselves, but the state found out about the drug issues and that was that. -shrug- But I love the fuck out of them despite the flaws and think they did a lot better than they think. There were times as a kid they went hungry because we were broke as fuck and there was only enough for me to eat.

    My parents have also made a point to be honest with me, even when I was a little kid who couldn't understand a lot of stuff. Mom never used meth around me, but I knew she used. When the DARE stuff started at school I asked her about it and she told me about being bipolar, and admitted she was self-medicating, and I think that's when she actually went back on meds for a while. But addiction's a bitch and it didn't really work out. But she didn't dance around it, she told me, even though I was 6 or 7 and didn't understand a word of it. Kids know when you're bullshitting them, and my parents only ever did as a joke and would give me a real answer afterward. Dad is a font of knowledge and if I asked how things worked he'd tell me to the best of his ability, again even if I didn't understand. And I was glad because he didn't bullshit or tell me to get lost.

    When things were bad and I was lost and confused by everything happening they explained it to me. No cutesy simplifications, no promises they couldn't keep. Just the facts, in as simple terms as I could understand, and what was being done about it. When I was removed they told me that was what was happening- without demonizing anyone involved which I bet was really hard for mom, she was pretty distraught- and that they were trying to get paperwork together for grandma to foster so my sister and I wouldn't be living with strangers for too long.

    I was always infuriated as a kid by people acting like I was stupid, and I think my parents tried as hard as they could to avoid that. Mom doesn't talk about her childhood much, but I know dad had similar issues growing up and didn't spontaneously forget it once he had a kid.
    • Like x 8
  9. Acey

    Acey hand extended, waiting for a shake

    One of the big things with my parents is that they listen, and they remember. They've picked up so much about my special interests just by actually listening to me ramble about them. (Hell, my parents have even quoted a few things from my fandoms...)

    They're always willing to go to bat for me, and even help me out when I'm just lonely. Like, when I was 17, I was gonna go to a Reel Big Fish show with a friend, but the friend had to cancel the day of the show due to a family emergency. My dad's response? "I'll come with you, it's not always safe downtown after dark and besides, concerts are no fun alone!"

    I also trust them with everything, and I know that trust isn't misplaced.

    When I was 19, before I came out to myself, I had a boyfriend. And one time we had sex while I wasn't on birth control, and while we'd used a condom and it held firm, I wound up terrified I might be pregnant, because my period wound up running very late that month. (FWIW, it turns out I wasn't pregnant, but yeah.)

    So I told my mom, and I told her I had no clue what I'd do if I was pregnant--I knew I didn't want to have a baby, but I also knew I could never afford an abortion. And she said, "If you are pregnant and you genuinely want an abortion, I'll pay for it. It's your choice."

    About a year later, I was sexually assaulted at a BDSM club. I was terrified to tell my dad (my mom was vacationing abroad), but I did anyway, and I remember asking if it was my fault, and him assuring me that no, it wasn't, and that he'd be there for me every step of the way.

    They've also always been honest with me. I didn't get any "the stork brings the babies down" or whatever--when I asked them about how things worked, including stuff like that, they always gave me honest answers (even if sometimes the answer was that they genuinely had no idea, in which case they'd advise me to look it up).

    Finally, they're EXTREMELY supportive. "Our daughter wants to be an artist? Time to get her some nice markers and a high-quality sketchbook for her 12th birthday, and a drawing tablet for Christmas!" "Our daughter is gay? Let's make sure she's comfortable coming out to us, and that she knows we'll always love her no matter what!" "Our daughter's going up to Seattle to visit her girlfriend? Oh, I hope she has a wonderful time and takes lots of pictures!" Stuff like that. They trust me, and I trust them.
    • Like x 8
  10. Acey

    Acey hand extended, waiting for a shake

    Another thing: They've always respected my privacy--and my agency. I remember my mom telling me as a teenager that I could always go to the Planned Parenthood downtown if I needed that kinda thing--she didn't need to know, she just wanted me to be safe. And she also told me that if I ever ended up at a party and got drunk or high, I could ALWAYS call for a ride home and she and my dad would pick me up--no questions asked, no judgment, just pride that I did the sensible thing.
    • Like x 4
  11. Re Allyssa

    Re Allyssa Sylph of Heart

    rambly thoughts ahead

    One of my favorite things about my mom is that she always treated (and still does!) children like people. My brother and I were never told (by her) "Go away, the adults are talking." (my uncle did it once, I think, and my mom was Upset). If we asked for an explanation about something, she'd tell us. She even told my grandparents when I was little that they had to say "I don't know" if they didn't know something and not to make shit up (This was probably because I would go "BUT GRANDMA SAID!!" when she tried to tell me the real explanation and then she had to explain to me that adults lie :P)
    There were a few times when she had to use the "because I said so" card, but since she didn't pull it very often it was easier to trust her with it.
    I was really sheltered as a kid with what I was allowed to watch and read, but then once I got to a certain age, my mom felt I was old enough to make my own decisions about things."

    My mom is also pretty good with mental illness stuff. I got a scholarship to college, but when I had to come home in the middle of the semester because depression, financial aid got wonky and we ended up having to pay more than we thought we would, but she and my stepdad never made me feel bad about it and they were very supportive of me, even though I did nothing around the house, my only "job" was getting to therapy every week.
    Even now, I don't have a job yet (I graduated in May) and they're still pretty lax about encouraging me to get one (though they do want me to get one, darn. :P)

    Oh, also my mom has always been supportive of my hobbies! Ever since I was a little kid she was into whatever I or my brother was into. When I was going to kindergarten, she'd record pokemon, sailor moon, and the magic schoolbus for me because I was still at school when they would come on. I still have those VHS tapes somewhere. When I started getting into online communities like Neopets, she joined with me and hung out on the same boards I did. This was at my request, for the record. When I got a tumblr and said I wanted it to be a space of my own, she agreed not to look at it unless I was specifically showing it to her.

    There's other stuff that wasn't great--we got pretty codependent and there were a lot of times where I felt I had to take care of her or be her emotional sounding board--but most of that was related to shit going down with my bio-dad, so I don't really blame her that much.

    I just really love my mom and I hope I can be as good a parent as her one day.
    • Like x 4
  12. turtleDove

    turtleDove Well-Known Member

    I remember that my mom tried really hard to make sure things were good for us as kids - she was supportive of my hobbies and she'd get me books (often from the library, but not always) on how to do rock-painting when I made it clear that I wanted to try doing that.

    And I remember that every so often - usually about...once or twice a school year, I think? Not frequently enough that it was a regular thing, but it happened more often during middle school and high school, she'd look at me struggling to get out of bed and get going in the morning and go "okay, today's a mental health day, I'm calling you in sick, you're taking the day off" and I wouldn't be expected to even get out of pajamas that day if I didn't feel up to it.
    • Like x 7
  13. Mostly Harmless

    Mostly Harmless poetry apologist

    Setting rules! My parents always set consistent rules that they were willing to sit down and explain. They didn't set a rule arbitrarily, and most of them were up for discussion if you disagreed with their reasoning. And if you could prove your point, then the rule was changed! (Which, when you're ten, feels a little like influencing the laws of physics) Obviously, they're human and weren't always 100% consistent 100% of the time, but they did well. I grew up knowing what to expect and understanding where and why the limits where.
    • Like x 5
  14. Nertbugs

    Nertbugs Information Leafblower

    When I had to quit my previous job because it was so stressful that I had a breakdown, my mum went with me to my final meeting with my boss, and helped me to clean out my locker and stuff. I have a problem with not wanting to let people down, even when acquiescing would royally fuck me up. So she came with to make sure I had support and was able to make a clean break with the place.

    Dad is good at making jokes to cheer me up when I'm sad. We went to a funeral a few months ago and when we left the crematorium I was in a bit of a state. He offered me a tissue and I declined. He offered me some mints and I declined. He made a show of going through his pockets, finding his wallet and offering me that. Which made me laugh and suddenly things weren't so bad any more.
    • Like x 5
  15. Newlyread

    Newlyread Killer Queen

    My dad was pretty emotionally abusive when he wasn't being outright neglectful while I was growing up, but we've since repaired our relationship and it's better than ever. Not so with my mother and stepfather, and at some point last year they'd made me feel, as usual, like a horrible failure and a waste of a daughter. I called my dad for comfort while holding back my distress but he figured out something wasn't right and it all came pouring out of me.

    A few days later, I got a letter from him, with his chicken scratch hand writing that basically said "Whatever problems people have with you is their problem, you're awesome, and I love you."

    I have it safely tucked away in my desk and I take it out to look at it whenever I need that reminder.
    • Like x 1
  16. Toaster

    Toaster Active Member

    When I was a teenager, I had really terrible migraines that made it impossible for me to be in school. I would try my best to make it till 11:20 every day--the point where that day officially counted for attendance--and then at 11:21 I would be heading to the office to call Mom, who would show up, collect my schoolwork for me, and take me home. It was almost every day, like 4 days out of 5, and some days I just couldn't make it to 11:20, or even out the door. My parents, especially my mom, were really great about it. She talked one-on-one with all my teachers and arranged to get the week's work at the start of the week, so I could do it around the migraines and not get behind; she went toe-to-toe with administration, constantly, about how I was not playing hooky, I was not lazy, my pain was legitimate, and they should never, EVER send me back to class without calling her because I was "faking it." My parents never made me feel weak, or lazy, or at fault.

    (They also went to all the extremes they could afford to get me medical help. The best experts they could find said, "Sometimes this happens to girls during puberty, sucks that it's so bad, nothing we can do.")

    Long story short, despite our best efforts I failed 7th grade on absences (despite making A+ grades in every single class, since we stayed on top of the actual work). My parents reacted in very different but still great ways! My mom pulled me out of public school, registered to homeschool me, took a bunch of summer classes that year to prep, and homeschooled me through 8th and 9th grades, following the NC curriculum so I could re-insert when I got better, working around the migraines to teach me for two years. She rearranged her whole life for two years, and I did not even REALIZE that until years later, because she never made it a thing. She treated it as normal, never pulled it out in an argument or anything.

    My dad, on the other hand, got the school to give him the date of every absence, went around to all the doctors and specialists I'd seen, and got me official notes for every single day I was absent--a particularly difficult feat because at the time my school had a rule that a single doctor could only sign for three days off in a month. That got me my 7th grade credit back, so when I re-inserted two years later I was able to go into 10th grade instead of redoing 9th. The whole time, again, it was never my fault or my weakness that they went to all this effort for me.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2017
    • Like x 11
  17. Acey

    Acey hand extended, waiting for a shake

    Another thing: "Ask your mom" or "ask your dad?" Those were never used as dodges to get out of asking questions, and it never resulted in some bullshit loop. It was always more like..."I don't know the answer to that question, but (other parent) might!" Which makes sense--my parents have very different specialties (my mom excels at language stuff and general trivia, and my dad is more of a science/math/computers kinda guy), so there would often be times as a kid where I might ask, say, my mom a question about a science thing I didn't get, and my mom would answer honestly that she didn't know, and suggest that I ask my dad instead.

    Funnily enough, the other day my mom texted me from choir practice to ask if I knew the name of a specific poetic format (the choir director was curious and asked her). I didn't off the top of my head, but since I was in a situation where I could google it easily I was able to look it up in short order! And she asked me specifically because she knows I know a lot about poetic formats. Felt pretty damn good!

    (She was looking for "abecedarian," btw.)
    • Like x 5
  18. anon person

    anon person actually a cat

    this is a really good thing for parents to do. my mother has always tried not to dumb things down for children, although sometimes she's withheld information she thought the child in question was not ready for.

    i didn't notice it when i was younger, but after i was an adult and was still being treated as a child by other adults who didn't know how old i was (i'm a bit baby-faced) i noticed that lots of adults treat children not just like they're stupid, but like they're non-entities. some adults will give you explanations that are obviously dumbed down for your teeny tiny idiot child brain (sarcasm), but some act like you don't deserve an explanation at all. like you should just go along with whatever they say without question, because you're a child and they're an adult and they know better. adults that don't even know you decide that you're not worth reasoning with based solely on how old (they think) you are.

    so, having parents who treated me like a human being, albeit one at a different stage of development, with less experience and accumulated knowledge than them--that's another thing that i didn't realize was not universal until i was older and paying more attention to how other adults treated children. and i really appreciate it now.
    • Like x 6
  19. Erica

    Erica occasionally vaguely like a person

    I had a bad experience with alcohol last week and ended up with a hangover that was awful enough I could barely move around at all. That wouldn't really be anything on its own but I clearly remembered falling and hitting my head the day before and I didn't know how hard and I'd never HAD a hangover before, so there was a not-insignificant risk I had a concussion and there was absolutely no way for me to tell the difference.
    My mother is a nurse.
    I called her and told her what was going on and she didn't yell, she didn't lecture me, she didn't even sound disappointed, she just told me what to do and how to deal with the situation, as well as what to do if I ever plan to drink that much in the future. There was no anger or shaming from her OR dad. (They did tease me a bit, but only once it was clear that yes I'm going to be okay.) She kept calling me throughout the day to check in on me, too. It was really, really nice.
    • Like x 9
  20. PotteryWalrus

    PotteryWalrus halfway hideous and halfway sweet

    My... well, neither of my parents are perfect. My dad was emotionally and physically abusive for most of my life, and while he's now literally on the other side of the world and has apologised enough for his behaviour that I can bring myself to be civil to him on the phone or on skype, I don't owe him anything and honestly I'll be relieved when he finally has the decency to die.

    My mum's somewhat better, but part of the reason dad's abuse was allowed to go on for so long is that she avoids any kind of conflict like the plague. She would refuse to go toe-to-toe with dad, acting calm and differential when either him or me would blow up and not helping in the least, just making us feel like we were being crazy and irrational and making us more crazy and irrational in the process.

    However, now dad's out of the picture, she's better at calming me down and not dismissing my emotions. It sounds weird, but she's even getting better at yelling back at me if we argue, which is actually helpful and makes me feel more validated and less unsettled.

    They've both been surprisingly good about my LGBT issues, as well - I came out to my dad as transmale over skype (note that he's always casually bigoted about everything from gay issues to race issues) and his reaction was 'well yeah, I figured that for a while.' Both of them are painfully cishet, and while my mum doesn't really understand a great deal of it, she's good at using my prefered pronouns to other people and told me the other day that she's getting better at referring to her kids as 'my sons' at work (me and my brother.)

    Also she's very good at treating my brainweird as valid health issues - last year I had a serious suicidal period with my depression and anxiety, and when I expressed frustration at not being able to do much because of it, she would go, "You're ill, [my name]. If you had a broken leg I wouldn't expect you to be able to do these things, so please stop hurting yourself by trying for now and just focus on self-care, okay?"

    I guess my point is that even if my parents aren't great, they do try sometimes and that's worth a great deal to me.
    • Like x 6
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