As “pre-parents” we have such grand visions. We know exactly the type of mother we’ll be. A perfect one of course!
It’s not until we actually become a parent that the shine comes off our carefully laid plans. We discover perfect parenting is a cruel trick of the media. And in reality, good parenting that produces happy, balanced children is enough.
Many single mothers continually question their child-related choices. The food we prepare. Our level of discipline. Our style of communication. Hell, I wasted 10 minutes yesterday feeling guilty for letting my kids stay up late on a school night (MasterChef was on, sorry).
So if you feel you’re screwing up your child-raising role, think again.
It’s the little things that make good parents.
Read my list of what makes a good parent and you might realise you rank pretty high on the super-mummy scoreboard.
And remember this: This very fact that you worry about being a good parent, means you already are one.
20 Signs that you are a damn good parent
1. You don't compare
First on my list of signs that you're a good parent is that you don't compare yourself to others.
Instead, you focus on your own unique and wonderful children and the specific situation you are in.
Doing this means you are parenting to their needs and not copying or competing with other parents whose children have different needs.
Not comparing yourself to others will also save you a lot of wasted time and energy.
2. You watch all their shows and dances
Whether it's a show, a dance routine or a magic act that your child has performed a million times before, you sit down and watch it!
Not only that, with the patience of a saint, you smile, clap and congratulate them on a job well done.
(Even if you do feel like banging your head against the bedroom door with the monotony of watching it so many times.)
This is a sure sign of great parenting.
3. You listen
You listen to your kids when they talk to you.
And I don't mean that you half-listen while you carry on typing your email or cooking dinner.
If your little one has something important to say, you take time out and give them the respect of listening.
Feeling heard is one of the most treasured gifts you can give your kids as a parent ... and it's harder than you think in our fast-paced world.
4. You handle their wee, poo and whatever else comes out of them
Being a good parent means you are immune to your little one's excretions, no matter how disgusting they may seem to others.
When my daughters were still toddlers, my sister used to cringe every time I ate something that was already in my kid's mouth. I mean, how can you throw away a perfectly good cookie (even if it's covered in saliva), right?
If you can relate, then you're on the right track. Go ahead and give yourself a high five!
5. You enjoy life with them
From the tea parties when they were little (which I miss now and then) to our dress-up sessions, I make sure to enjoy life with my kids.
No matter how busy I am, I always put our girls' day out on my calendar. Whether it's a picnic at the park or just chilling out and playing board games at home, it doesn't matter as long as I'm spending quality time with them.
If you're doing the same, squeezing time between your busy schedule to bond with your kiddos, then you sure are a damn good parent.
6. You cheer on everything they do
You hate soccer because your ex loves it. But your kid is also a fan and joined their school's soccer team. So you still watch every single game, with your full battle gear on, and cheer from the top of your lungs. You even learned the rules so you can shout at the referee if there's a bad call.
That's putting your children's needs before yours, and ... you guessed it ... it's a sign of being a damn good parent.
7. You will always do a handstand with them
By this I mean, you will always take time to have fun with them.
My daughter was obsessed with doing handstands when she was younger. Even better when I did them with her
I'd often find myself balanced upside down on my hands against a wall when I had hundreds of chores to do. But it was a simple gesture to show that I had time for her ... and great for the arm muscles too!
Thankfully, she grew out of the handstand phase.
8. You get them out the door in the morning
So what if the dishes aren't done, if toys are all over the floor, or if you haven't brushed your teeth yet? What's important is you get your kids out the door in the morning, dressed, fed, and (reasonably) clean.
Don't ever think that you're failing as a parent just because you haven't done any household chores.
Remember, our children are our top priority. If you get your kids your school on time, then you are a hell of a good parent and you're doing great!
9. You teach them good values
The first things I taught my kids when they were little was sharing their toys and saying "please" and "thank you." It doesn't stop there, though.
Now that they're interacting with plenty of people (like their classmates and teachers), I make sure they continue to be respectful and kind.
If you're doing the same, I'm proud of you! If this doesn't make you a good parent, I don't know what else does.
10. You protect them, always
So you used to be a soft-spoken lady, but now you become mum-zilla whenever you need to fend off danger from your kids
That's not a bad thing! I mean, even dinosaurs had the "mother's instinct," right?
In the modern world we're living in, there is a lot of potential harm for our children (online and in real life). But you're always ready to protect them.
And even if their dad's not there for them, you will be their knight in shining armour (possibly in a dress).
11. You are always proud of them
No matter how huge or small your kid's milestone is, you are always immensely proud of them.
And you don't pressure them to be at the top of the class. Whether they get an A or a C doesn't matter, as long as they did their best.
Even if they choose to dress bizarrely (or maybe we just can't relate to kids' sense of style these days), you walk proudly down the street with them. And you will always be their No.1 fan.
12. You tolerate their favourite movie over and over again
Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff, Sven – you know every single character. You even memorised the songs and the lines. You’ve watched Frozen 2,468 times and still shout ‘yay’ when it starts again.
You turn on the TV to watch your most-awaited Netflix series but your kids wanted to watch their favourite movie for the 100th time, you still put them first. Kudos to you, mummy.
13. And their favourite music
It used to be "Wheels on the Bus," but now they want Olivia Rodrigo blasting out of the car speaker every time you take a trip to the supermarket. And you patiently let them, even if it drives you around the bend.
That, my fellow mum, is a sign of being a good parent.
Want to know how I deal with the unlimited repeat of songs? I try to appreciate the music and know the words so I can sing along from time to time. Sometimes we act like we're in a carpool karaoke!
14. You feel their pain
You feel their highs and lows as if they are your own (only multiplied tenfold).
Even the tiniest bruise on your little one's skin feels like a stab to your heart. You want to annihilate every mosquito in your village so your kid doesn't get bitten.
Or if you have tweens and they get "heartbroken" because their crush moves to another school, you cry at Rom-coms with them while eating ice cream.
15. You cry at their school plays
The school play was lively and everyone was clapping and singing along. It even had a happy ending. But you suddenly had an uncontainable urge to cry.
Don't panic, it's normal. In fact, it happens to me a lot.
It's only natural for you to shed tears of joy at times like this. It only means you're proud of your child's achievement.
That's because you witnessed first-hand how hard they practised for this. From the auditions to the rehearsals to the costume fitting. Just make sure your little one doesn't notice, they might cry too!
16. You get nervous for them
I'm sure you also give your support not only during the above-mentioned play but also while your kids are getting ready for it. You let them practice at home and even give them pointers for improvement.
But days before the school play, you feel more nervous than you've ever been.
It's not that you don't trust that they won't do well. It's just that you feel like you're going up the stage with them. Having that feeling alone is a quality of a good parent.
Don't let them feel your nerves, though, as it may affect their performance.
17. You cuddle them too hard
Between soccer practices, cooking dinners, and helping with maths homework that seems like it's written in an alien language, I sometimes just want to cuddle my kiddos like they're still a toddler.
But then, they give me that "Mum, not in front of my friends!" look, and I realise maybe I'm squeezing just a tad too hard.
It can be difficult to remember they're not my little baby anymore when I'm running on four hours of sleep and three cups of coffee!
18. You know how they feel by looking at them
Now, this really is a parental superpower. As a single mum, you develop this sixth sense.
It takes just one split-second glance and you know how your little one feels. Whether it's tired, wired, happy, sad or anything in-between.
The other day, I picked up my kid from school, and I could tell something was off — just by that little slouch on their shoulders. Turns out, there was a math test they were worried about.
Sometimes I feel like I've got this super-mum telepathy. It's not always easy, but those little moments, where you just know, make you feel like you're doing something right.
To be this tuned into your child shows you're a good parent who understands their every move, expression and gesture.
19. You'd give them your last chocolate
Look, after a long day of juggling work, household chores, and a mountain of other responsibilities, that last piece of chocolate is sometimes my tiny moment of sanity.
But then, there's that evening when my little one came up, teary-eyed after a tough day, and suddenly that chocolate became our shared moment of comfort.
Sure, it was my last piece, but seeing that smile? Worth every bite. Well, every half-bite. I did split it, after all!
20. You don't pretend to be superwoman
Who has time for that? Between the school drop-offs and surprise projects (that they swear they told me about), trying to be superwoman seems overrated.
Some days, my biggest achievement is not burning dinner or remembering there's a special event at school. And that's okay.
We don't have to be perfect; we just have to be there, cape or no cape. Besides, who else is going to laugh at their corny jokes or make sure the boogeyman isn't hiding under the bed? No superpowers needed, just a whole lot of love and a splash of caffeine!
My final thoughts on what makes a good parent
Being a good parent is not about throwing the wildest birthday bashes or snagging the latest toy that's flying off the shelves. Heck, it's not even about making sure report cards are flawless.
Good parenting? It's all about that rock-solid love, a whole bunch of patience, and just showing up. It's being there with a tub of ice cream after a first breakup or just a knowing nod that says, "Been there, kiddo."
A great parent knows they're not perfect and isn't afraid to admit, "Yep, messed that one up." They get that every kid is their own person and needs their own game plan. But most importantly, they're the safe zone - a landing pad for all of life's ups and downs.
Remember, you are a good parent. Don't let other people tell you otherwise.