Q: How do I know if I’m doing this parenting thing right?

3 min

Talk about relatable.

Wouldn’t it be handy if there was some sort of reliable rulebook on how to be a good parent aka avoid screwing up your kids?

Dear Ellie,

I’m now a few kids in, so I’m not new at this parenting thing, but I can’t shake that nagging feeling that I’m doing it wrong. Or, at least not right enough.

Sometimes my kids act like I’m the biggest dork. And, they might be right.

How do I know I’m a good parent?

~ Feeling Dweeby in Atlanta

Jay, today’s Dear Ellie columnist, helps us remember what it’s all about:

Hey there Marvelous Mom,

First, just the fact that you ARE a mom is something to be proud of.

Focusing on the small wins is a great way to re-center on confidence. And, you’ve made it this far!

That being said, I know just what you mean. Pre-kids it’s so easy to have ALL the plans to be ALL the levels of perfect.

But, once they arrive all those plans go out the window and it’s a new game.

Dorkiness is nothing short of a coping mechanism at this point, and a pretty fine one, relatively!

You need to know that you are not alone.

Even those insta-perfect moms (and dads!) have thoughts like yours. We are all in this together.

My measure for how I’m doing as a parent comes from noticing the blend of authenticity, happy times, and sparks of love we share – alongside the temper tantrums, chaos, and flying toys, of course.

In other words, I do my best to embrace the kind of experiences that create memories.

I have a good example for you.

It’s a little story about my recent (by some measures largely imperfect, but by others exactly right) run in with the UPS delivery man.

Lately, my wife Alice has taken the kids to the fields to burn off energy in the afternoons for an hour or so. When they come back, the twins love to ring the doorbell and then hide and they play this game with me where I pretend I don’t know who is at the door, and I’m all surprised, and they giggle while they hide in the bushes.

Here’s how today’s round went: Alice and the kids leave. One hour later, they come back.

Like all of us parents, I’ve had moments of being more present than not, and having had my break from the kids, I decide I’m really gonna dial up the Dad energy and make the spider monkeys laugh.

“Ding dong” goes the doorbell.

I call out (all in kid speak mind you): whoooooo isssss it??!!! Whoooooo’s there???

They hit the doorbell.

Again, ding dong!

Me: Is there someone there? I heaaaaaaar you, but I don’t seeeee you!!!

Ding dong!

Me: Are those wormy worms at the door? Do you have booger sandwiches for me??!!

This time 3 rings: ding dong, ding dong, ding dong.

Me (top of my lungs now): “That’s it! I’ve had enough! (Stomping my feet like a giant as I thunder through the house). I’m coming to the door, and when I catch youuuu, I’m going to TICKLE YOU UNTIL YOU PEE IN YOUR PANTS!!!” I scream as I whip the door open and yell “ah-ha!!”

And then time stopped still.

And there stood the UPS delivery man who looked at least as confused as I felt.

I look at him.

He looks at me.

My face feels hot.

Me: “I…uh…I…”

Him: “Listen, I just need a signature.”

Me, now unable to make eye contact, signing and handing it back…

Him, walking down the driveway: “enjoy your wine.”!

In other words, sometimes it’s the messy moments that are the best moments. You can bet that when the twins got home they got a good laugh at my expense.

But, those are the memorable moments. The imperfect, vulnerable, awkward, hollering-at-UPS moments.

Just be unashamedly yourself and I can promise you that your example will have the right impact to help your littles become the humans they are destined to be.

Time for wine now,

Ellie + Jay

Jay Rooke

Jay doesn’t fit neatly into any category — he’s an entrepreneur, an “idea guy,” and a crazy creative father of twins that is woo-woo and spiritual, but still grounded in practical solutions. Think East Coast pragmatic meets West Coast progressive.


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