There are as many parenting styles out there as there are parents. The mom is going to parent differently than the dad. With so many single/divorced parents, the differing styles become insanely opposite, especially if the parents never saw eye-to-eye when they were married/together. How do you know you’re doing it right? Is there any right way to parent? Do you constantly question your parenting genius or lack thereof? Here are just a few telltale signs that you might be doing an okay job on the parenting front:
1. Your teen could easily move in with the alternate parent and have no rules, be able to stay out as late as they like, get away with smoking and drinking and sex and drugs, yet the kid chooses to live with you, the more responsible loving parent with rules, because they know the rules mean you care.
2. You fight daily with your kid, which could be anything from a slight disagreement or rolling of the eyes to a full-on shouting match and slamming of doors (not just from the kid), yet by the end of the night, you still get a kiss goodnight, an ‘I love you,’ and possibly an ‘I’m sorry.’
3. You are 99.9% sure your child is not on drugs. You can’t be 100% sure unless your child had a surprise urine test today. Thankfully, many schools have surprise urine tests, just to offer peace of mind.
4. You talk to your kid about everything, from the effects of smoking and drugs to sex, disease and unwanted early pregnancy, and everything in between. You’re pretty sure they listen, because as far as you know, they aren’t smoking, aren’t doing drugs and aren’t having sex/unprotected sex.
5. You stress how important good grades are to getting college scholarships and though you may hardly ever see them study or if they are, they’re jamming out to music, watching tv and texting on their smartphone all the while, they still find a way to ace that test and have an A, overall, in the class.
6. You perform a surprise inspection of their texts to and from their friends and get the all clear. At times, this can be quite alarming as sexting has become a huge thing with today’s teen (and I encourage you to keep tabs on your teen’s phone), even if you feel 100% sure your kid would never ever do that. Let me tell you, you can never be 100% sure. I don’t care how well you think you know your kid.
When your child has sexted, you calmly sit your child down (after your panic attack has ended, you can breathe again and you’re 90% sure you aren’t going to have a heart attack or swallow your tongue) and talk to them face-to-face (I said calmly and preferably without crying — a shaky voice is fine and actually expected) and express the many reasons it’s not a good idea, that you are not judging them, you still think they are awesome in every way, everyone makes mistakes and you still love them fiercely!! Oh, and don’t forget to ground them for a month or as long as you see fit (this means taking away their cell phone). I’ve known parents to take away their phone entirely. While I understand why, I believe the kid deserves another chance to prove they can make better decisions, eventually, after a good 30 days without it. Make sure you always have their current phone password.
7. You perform a surprise inspection of their internet browsing history and get the all clear. Naturally, kids are going to be curious. Actually, the age range at which children start viewing porn is as early as 11-13, sometimes younger. Many children look for new friendships in chat rooms, where sex offenders lurk, and their new friend is pretending to be a sweet 15 year old boy or girl when actually he’s a 45 year old perv, saying ‘let’s meet for a smoothie’ and he grabs your kid. Make sure to keep computer passwords so you can view their history anytime.
8. You ask your teen to do some chores and you’re 95% sure they aren’t listening but when you learn they did clean up their room, wash the dishes (though it may not be the greatest job ever in the history of dish-washing), feed the dog and take out the garbage, they were actually listening to every word.
9. You talk with and laugh with your child on a daily basis — I’m talking fall-down bust-a-gut belly-laughter. About anything.
10. Your child talks to you about something that could potentially get them in trouble, yet they bring it to you anyway, because they trust you, because they know you will listen, because they know you care, because they know you will not judge them harshly, because they know you love them, and they love you.
Okay, and 1 more for good measure:
11. Your kid is still living at home with you, hasn’t moved out to that alternate parent, a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or run away, because you are a completely wretched parent, unfair in every way.
I could go on but I’d say those top 10 are pretty fair in establishing that you might just be okay as a parent if you can meet all or most of those.