One of the first things that comes to my mind, when I hear the phrase “greatest parents” are the stock photos we see online, with two thirty year olds sitting on their white sofa with boy and a girl happily playing on the floor in front of them. Everyone is smiling and has perfectly styled hair. Everyone is dressed in their Sunday best and there are no scratched or bleeding knees, no tears, no tantrums. Perfect.

Sometimes I see a different picture: mum cheering kids while they are playing football, when dad is at work making money to pay for their summer holidays and new iPads. Those moments happen, sometimes quite often (maybe except for the white sofa, that just never works, even in the movies), and they make it all worth while, but they don’t make for a great parent.

Do you consider yourself a great parent? If so, what do you think makes a great parent? If not, what stops you? Do you feel under too much pressure from the poster families we see around, maybe even in your neighbourhood. The ones with the perfect kids, great holidays and having it all figured out. We watch them, we learn from them, we may envy them but ultimately, we probably want to be them. Between the parents of out kids’ school friends to our neighbours and their perfect families, we are exposed to a vast array of parenting models and practices. Some of it unimaginably bad, some of it amazing and inspirational.

Great parenting is hard to define since in many cases it’s a matter of opinion, but the only way to improve is to set the bar high and look up to people who have done a great job with their kids and find inspiration in their methods.

Picture Perfect Family

Picture Perfect Family

There is no such thing as perfect parenting. Since it’s a job for life, and we are only people at the end of the day, we are driven by emotions and our temper. We will develop as humans alongside our children, so what we would consider acceptable at the age of 30, we may deem absolutely unthinkable ten years later. Parenting, just like life itself, can be amazing if we learn to accept the 99%. The cost of perfection in most cases can be too high. Being a perfect parent may end up the source of frustration for you and your family, especially if one of the means to it is comparing yourself with the families we consider perfect. It rarely is the case and behind closed doors, things can be different than they seem. Being a “great” parent, instead of “perfect” may just be within our reach. It’s hard, it requires dedication, but it’s within our reach.

I found this  list on Huffington Post’s website, and I couldn’t help but to share it. I think it’s spot on.

Here are some of the things that great parents do:

1. Great parents realize that their marriage/relationship isn’t theirs alone, but rather acts as a model for their children for their rest of their lives. Whatever anger, affection, intolerance or kindness parents show towards each other will reverberate down through the generations.

2. Great parents know that their world may revolve around their children, but the real one doesn’t. If they are confused, their children will be as well.

3. Great parents delve deeply into their children’s passions, showing their kids both care and respect and finding yet another way to bond. By learning the intricacies of hockey or Pokemon, great parents let their children know that they respect and even admire their child’s chosen interest, even it it might not have been their own.

4. Great parents have a healthy relationship with money, food and alcohol. All of these relationships are learned at home and turn out to be painfully difficult to alter later in life. Great parents try to start their kids off right.

5. Great parents model good sibling relationships with their own brothers and sisters, knowing that the relationship among their children will ultimately be the longest and one of the most important relationships in their children’s lives.

6. Great parents are willing to tell their child that they are not that good at something, knowing that as a result, their compliments will carry much more weight. Great parents do not sacrifice their credibility on the altar of self-esteem.

7. Great parents show the same enthusiasm with the first child as the last, be it for a lost tooth or college admissions. No doubt this is a parenting challenge.

8. Great parents require that their children live up to their potential, even when it makes that child angry or the parent temporarily despised. Despite all platitudes, none of us try our hardest or are at our best at everything. Yet children who are encouraged to give something, anything — be it sports, academics or any pursuit — their all, learn early in life about concerted effort and focus.

9. Great parents remember that at the moment their child hates them, has daggers flying out of their eyes and vicious language pouring out of their mouths, tears barely held in check, they may be doing some of their very best parenting. These are not moments to be soothed over or backed away, from as painful as that might be.

10. Great parents realize that anxiety is contagious, and while it may seem like kids catch it from their friends, it turns out the worst cases are contracted at home. When great parents see anxiety in their children, they don’t panic, but take a long, hard look at themselves.

11. Great parents adapt to each child and don’t adhere to notion that it is unfair to treat their children differently. They know that their children are siblings, not clones, and that setting standards that need to be followed by all is tantamount to parenting with our eyes closed.

12. Great parents never confuse who is the adult and who is the child and who is in charge, even when the child towers over the parent and would win in a fair fight. There is a reason children live under our roof, and substituting their judgement for our own is not great parenting.”

Am I advocating you print off this list and focus on ticking off all the boxes? It could bring amazing results, but I believe you can still be a great parent doing things your way. As I said at the beginning, there is no right or wrong way of bringing up kids. What we do need to remember however, is that we cannot expect our children to put all the effort in and try their best at everything from school, to improving their behaviour, if as parents we haven’t tried our best to be the greatest examples we possibly can, no matter the challenge.