What kind of parent do you want to be?

What kind of parent are you?

Photo by Nick Wilkes on Unsplash

Most of us have a vague idea in our heads of the kind of parent we want to be.

Maybe you want to be the strict one, the kind of parent that can get homework done swiftly with just a carefully raised eyebrow, or perhaps you’d rather be the ‘they’re going to do it anyway so I’d rather it was under my roof’ type, who dishes out cans of Strongbow and condoms every weekend.

For the majority, there is time to give the whole parenting thing some thought, some time spent as an adult working out your own values and considering how and when you want to instil these in a child.

When you get yourself knocked up at 16 however, you don’t really get round to that. Instead you find yourself suddenly raising a child, still a child yourself, having to work out as you go along what’s important to you, trying at the same time as shaping this whole extra person, to work out exactly what and who you want to be when you grow up.

It keeps you on your toes.

Being a single parent makes it tricky too, especially when you have two different fathers with completely opposite personalities to balance. You can’t do the whole good cop-bad cop thing on your own without coming across as slightly bonkers, so it is a constant juggling act, trying to get the right mix of approachability and authority.

And then of course there’s the responsibility. Don’t get me started on that. I have these moments of extreme clarity where I am completely bowled over by the thought that I have two people living with me that I have created, properly from scratch, and that everything I have ever done and ever will do actually affects them. Properly affects them. The decisions I have to make on my own about them really count. It isn’t a game, you don’t get another go.

It’s scary. What if I get it wrong?

There is a part of me, the control freak part, that relishes the fact that I get to make the decisions, and most of the time when I look at them and see how beautiful and smart and funny they are I feel immensely proud and pretty pleased with myself all things considered. But there are other times when I wonder if my fierce independence is really through choice or necessity, and I long for a dominant male in the house, someone I can threaten the children with if they don’t behave, someone who will see me floundering and take charge, someone who can share the decision making. Perhaps even someone who will take out the bins.

Sometimes I worry that I’m not grown up or sensible enough to be the right kind of parent, that I don’t even know what the right kind of parent is. Often though my children will help me out. The other night I was being rather pathetic over trying to decide what to cook for dinner. Belle wanted tacos of all things, Bee was adamant that she was going on hunger strike unless I cooked her curry and pasta. I didn’t want either.

“Maybe I could do us all different things?” I said to Bee, as I lay on my bed and sighed.

“No!” she practically yelled, clearly losing patience with me. “You’re acting like one of those parents that put their children first! Cooking separate meals and all that… And you’re not like that.”

“Don’t you want me to be?” I asked, surprised.

“No. I want you to be one of those ‘shut up and eat what you’re given’ mums.”

So that’s where I’ve been going wrong all these years.

What kind of parent are you? Is it the kind of parent you always wanted to be? Did you have a plan or are you making it up as you go along?



  1. Vicky
    2 February, 2011 / 10:49 am

    Overwhelmed…. that’s what type of parent I am. Well, overwhelmed, inconsistent and fairly sleepy to be precise! xxx

    • 2 February, 2011 / 6:29 pm

      Rubbish! You are a fabulous mummy. I have seen you in action don’t forget, so I know what a lovely boy you have made :-)

  2. 2 February, 2011 / 11:01 am

    I am certain I’m making it up as I go along. It’s impossible to follow a gameplan as a parent, whereas as a nanny it was easy. The difference is the guilt.

    • 2 February, 2011 / 6:29 pm

      And knowing you can take holiday when you need it!

  3. 2 February, 2011 / 2:47 pm

    If I’m being totally honest I know I’m TRYING to parent like my own mother, who is so organised and utterly calm and together about everything, but in actuality my own path is a bit less planned and a bit more lost!

    • 2 February, 2011 / 6:30 pm

      Hmmm… that’s interesting, because I reckon there are a lot of women trying really hard NOT to parent like their mothers… I personally think it’s good for kids to see you have weaknesses sometimes, it helps them appreciate that no one is perfect. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

  4. 2 February, 2011 / 4:31 pm

    Clue is in the name! I strive to be a laid-back mum, one that goes with the flow and does’nt stress too much! Ha, well at least i try to be! I too make it up as i go along and just hope in years to come that i am doing the right thing but who knows.

    • 2 February, 2011 / 6:31 pm

      Sounds like a good philosophy to me. I guess the thing is that WHATEVER you do, you’re going to get it thrown back in your face at some point in the future, so you may as well relax about it :-)

  5. 2 February, 2011 / 5:57 pm

    Can I just say, Bee sounds fabulous! You’ve obviously done something right to make her so astute and so willing to support you.
    As a nanny I think I know quite a lot when it comes to kids… especially when it comes to managing different personalities and instilling good values. BUT, I’m entirely sure all that knowledge will go out of the window when it comes to the emotional turmoil that comes with your own.

    • 2 February, 2011 / 6:33 pm

      Ah! Thank you, she is rather fabulous :-)

      I think that’s true of most parents. More often than not you have an idea of the kind of parent you know you’re not going to be e.g. you will NOT be the parent who gives their kid a dummy – and then lo and behold, after a few nights of no sleep…

  6. 2 February, 2011 / 7:07 pm

    I have no idea wot I’m doing half the time! I def know I DON’T want to parent like my mother! Sometimes I feel like I am organised, have a plan & the energy to follow it all thru. And then that all goes pear shaped! Add to my parenting dilemas a special needs kid, an almost 18 Yr old & 2 step kids & u get an exhausted mummy! Lol. I love it all! Mostly!

  7. 3 February, 2011 / 5:53 pm

    I’m sort of a feast and famine parent. Most days I’m pretty fun, constantly doing skits where one of thems the grandma and I’m the kid, or doing pretend cooking shows where one films us. On the off days I scream like a maniac and say ‘don’t talk to me I’m tired’. So it’s swings and roundabouts I suppose.

  8. 4 February, 2011 / 12:48 pm

    I am relaxed to the point of negligence…but this has plus sides. I do a few things right. I wrestle with joy, I paint like an angel and I cook well with the kids.

    But: I shout at them when I am tired. I don’t deal with crying very well and I am a bit of a nazi when it comes to meal times.

    I wish I was more reasoned and able to take a step back more often and not get involved in petty squabbles.

    No one is perfect but the good parents are the ones who accept that but try and do their best to be as close to their best as much as they can…

  9. 7 February, 2011 / 9:33 am

    Part of me wants to be like my parents, I mean, I turned out okay I like to think!! But i also see the glaring mistakes they made, so, rectifyng them, and modernising their other techniques…I’m a bit old school, strict but fair. And tired. And occasionally grouchy ;)

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