“She’s such a good mom*!”
Has someone** ever said this to you about another mom? I’ve heard this on several occasions. In my younger days I never thought much about it, but now that I’m actually a mom, the phrase stands out to me a little more. For a long time, I couldn’t figure out why exactly it was sticking in my brain so much, but I think I’ve finally put my finger on it.
When someone says “she’s a good mom” it seems like about 75% of the time what they really mean is “her child is well behaved”, “her child is quiet” or “her child is very obedient.”
Which, yes, can absolutely be a result of good parenting. I don’t want to imply that it’s not.
When that’s what we praise as making a “good mom” it implies that only moms of quiet kids are good moms. But what about moms of spirited kids? Or moms of younger, more impulsive kids? What about moms of “quiet” kids who are overtired, or upset, or frustrated? Are we just telling them that they’re not “good moms”?
And more importantly, this is only one of the many many roles of parenting. Obedience is a wonderful thing to teach your children, but it’s not the only way to measure how good you are at this parenting gig. Many of the other ways that we prove our worth as parents isn’t always visible to outsiders on a quick glance: we provide empathy and sympathy, we instruct and teach, we discipline and structure, we love and respect and honor.
When we create the equation of good = quiet, what are we saying about the importance (or lack of importance) of those other qualities?
*I’m mostly talking about moms here because I don’t know that I’ve ever heard the same kind of comments directed at dads. Usually, “he’s a good dad” is said to any dad who appears involved.
**When I say “someone” I, by and large, mean either non-parent someones, or someones who are a little removed from the day to day business of child rearing (i.e. an older generation).