The Good Mother

As I explore what’s most important and what “good” I want in this time in my life, without a doubt being a good mother is at the top of my list.

 

stacywithkids

Arnett, Harden Fritz and Bell describe the good as “what is most important and held in the highest regard,”(Arnett, Harden Fritz, and Bell, 2009, p. 3)[1]. I have two children, ages 11 and 7, and they are the most important component of my life. If I achieve nothing else in my lifetime except for being a good mother, then I will die happy.

But what is the definition of a “good mother”?

Image courtesy of Iamnee from freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Iamnee from freedigitalphotos.net

WikiHow seems to think that they can describe “How to be a Good Mother” in eight simple steps (Edge, et al, n.d.)[2]. Although I don’t see how step number four, “Don’t be tight about money”, ties into being a good parent.

Psychology Today provides only three guidelines for being a good mother, centered around “the negative compass”, which means one should focus on what they don’t want to do rather than what they should do (Streep, 2013)[3]. My “negative compass” is Mommie Dearest (2013)[4]. My mother made me watch this when I was a child and said, “You think I’m a bad mom? I’ll show you a bad mom.” I never threw a fit when she asked me to clean my room again. As long as she didn’t scream, “no more wire hangers” I figured it was better than the alternative.

There is no shortage of advice on what mothers should do to become a “good mother”. When I Google “how to be a good mother” I receive 1,190,000,000 results. Couple that with the multitude of parenting books, parenting magazines and advice from friends, family and strangers and you get an abundance of conflicting information.

I can tell you that what I defined as “good” when I was a young mother with one young toddler is different than my definition of “good” now with a son in middle school and a daughter in second grade. My definition of “good” has morphed over time with experience, age and milestones in my children’s’ lives. As Arnett, Harden Fritz and Bell explain, our understanding and protecting of a good will adapt to each new moment and require a new application (Arnett, Harden Fritz, and Bell, 2009, p. 6)[5]. A good example of this is my communication and demonstration of love for my children over the years. While the “good” still remains being a good mother, when my son started his first day of preschool, a big hug and kiss would be a great way to show my love. However, as he headed off for his first day of middle school, a fist pump would be much more appropriate. Even though my good has remained the same, my application of the communication practices supporting my good have morphed over time. My desire to be a good mother can be described as my “hypergood,” which is the overall belief or virtue system (Arnett, Harden Fritz, and Bell, 2009, p. 4)[6]. My “superordinate goods”, which are the supporting actions that contribute to my overall hypergood, include helping them with their homework, taking them to the zoo and volunteering in their classroom.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Another component of what Arnett, Harden Fritz and Bell that resonated with me was “communicative absence”. Just as “showing up” in the classroom is fundamental for success, I believe that “showing up” in our children’s lives is the most important component of being a “good” parent.

 

When I think about what the top quality is for me, for being a good mother, “showing up” is the overarching umbrella. Being available when my kids need me, listening to their ideas, concerns or even just their daily minutiae is important to building a deep and lasting connection. I am certainly not perfect and I don’t always do or say the right things, but I do “show up” in my children’s lives and make it a priority to spend time with them. I hope that is what they remember as they become parents themselves.

What is your most important “good”? Do you feel as if you do a “good” job meeting your own standards?


[1] Arnett, B.C., Harden Fritz, J.M.& Bell, L.M. (2009). Communication ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

[2] Edge, R. (n.d.) WikiHow. How to be a Good Mother. Retrieved on March 15, 2014 from http://www.wikihow.com/Be-a-Good-Mother.

[3] Streep, P. (2013, October 16). Psychology Today. What makes a Good Mother Anyway? Retrieved on March 15, 2014 from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/tech-support/201310/what-makes-good-mother-anyway.

[4] Yablans, F (Producer) & Perry, F. (Director). (1981). Mommie Dearest (Motion Picture). USA: Paramount Pictures.

[5] Arnett, B.C., Harden Fritz, J.M.& Bell, L.M. (2009). Communication ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

[6] Arnett, B.C., Harden Fritz, J.M.& Bell, L.M. (2009). Communication ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s