Why Defining What Being a Good Parent Means to You is the Secret to Being… a Good Parent

“Am I a good parent?”

Wouldn’t it be great to quiet the voice in your head that’s constantly questioning if you’re good enough? With constant pressure and unrealistic expectations it can feel impossible. But read on, because I found a way to experience more peace, calm and confidence when confronted with doubt in my parenting skills and you can too. 

For me it started in 2015 when I became a mom (yay!) and failed to go back to a job I loved (boo). My maternity leave was supposed to end with a welcome back raise and free childcare, but it was all a verbal agreement and while I was on leave things changed. Without the raise and free childcare, I couldn’t afford to keep working in that position, the math just didn’t make sense. Life suddenly looked so different and I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to act or what I was supposed to do. And seeking advice stressed me out since every source seemed to expect more out of me as a parent and as a woman. It was exhausting.

After being a stay-at-home mom for 2 months my postpartum therapist encouraged me to try something different and see if going back to work would be good for me. 

After reaching out to people I enjoyed working with in the past I found a job to interview for. The job description matched my skills and the hiring manager was open to flexible part-time hours and the option to work from home. But I only felt confident moving forward with interviewing because I had something else that brought me clarity.

I had written my own, unique definition of “good parent.”

It’s so helpful.

This definition gave me the clarity I needed to step back into the workforce with confidence.

When looking for a job, you start by reading job descriptions that tell you what’s expected, what the responsibilities are. In job interviews you have a chance to ask “what does success look like in this role?”

But when you take on the job of a parent, most of us don’t know what success looks like or what’s expected. So we end up taking on everything and feeling like failures when we aren’t able to deliver the stars and the moon.

Coming from an HR background I know the power of a job description. So when I contemplated returning to work, I wrote my own definition of what success looks like for me as a parent. I did this before I even scheduled my interview.

Getting dressed for that interview felt amazing. I put on a regular bra. Not a nursing bra, a regular one! Plus a skirt and heels! I kissed my baby and headed to the city where there were so many grown-ups to talk to. Seriously, there were adults everywhere. On the bus, at Starbucks and at the job interview. It felt so good to be out in the world.

It became clear quickly that this job was a good fit for both myself and the company. A few days later the official job offer came through and I took some time to talk with my husband, think through childcare options, and read my definition of “good parent” again. I needed to be sure that I could stay true to my unique expectations of how I wanted to parent. I wanted my professional life and personal life to compliment each other. 

That’s the benefit to defining things for yourself- it allows you to contemplate major life decisions with your own expectations clearly in your head, not everyone else’s. It allows you to read articles that scream at you- “you have to put your baby on a schedule!” and then calmly say “no I don’t.” 

Your own definition lets you release mom guilt

Maybe that definition will even quiet that voice in your head asking “should I be doing more? am I good enough?” 

And if that voice starts speaking up in the middle of the night, hopefully, your own unique definition of what being a “good parent” looks like will help ground you. I hope it will allow you to feel confident in your decisions.

So, what is your definition of success in parenting? What makes you proud? What makes you feel like you’re doing right by your family?

I recommend starting with one of these jumping off points…


  • Use the prompt “To be a good parent….” And go from there! Write whatever comes to mind. Set a timer, give yourself 5 minutes, then after your timer goes off, edit.

Make a List

  • List all of the things that are most important to you in your life and your family. Incorporate these into your definition.

Start Backwards

  • Write how you want your child to remember their childhood. And how you want them to feel as they experience it. Let your definition support this goal.

My other piece of advice when exploring this definition for yourself is to stay clear of tasks. While it’s awesome to have a clean house please don’t put “does laundry” or “cleans toilets” in your definition. Instead, add something that gives you a little more breathing room like “caring for my child” which on some days may mean doing laundry so they have clean clothes to wear, but on other days caring for your child may be reading with them in a very messy room.

Anytime you doubt, question, or judge yourself, read your definition as a reminder that you are a good parent. You can even write it out and keep it visible to reinforce how awesome you are.

I purposely did not include my definition in this article since I don’t want to influence you. However if you really, really want to know… you can find it in my bio below.

Feel free to share your definition of what being a “good parent” looks like for you and tag us on Instagram @pstprtm or you can share with us via email here

And if you’re grappling with whether or not to go back to work or the stress of making a career transition, these articles have more information and support for you: choosing to go back to work, choosing NOT to go back to work, preparing your family for your return to work, or considering entrepreneurship.

Related Posts