“Am I a good parent?” is a question that plagues moms and dads everywhere. I’ve worked with countless parents over the years who struggle with doubts and lack confidence in their ability to parent. Why? Because parenting is hard. It’s hard, it’s child-specific, and anyone who tells you that you can be a great parent with little effort is likely smoking crack. And there’s no one “right” way to parent or surefire solution. Truth be told, some parents are not good parents; not due to lack of effort, but lack of skill. I once worked with a teen mom who was feeding her 5-month-old daughter whole cow’s milk and letting her gnaw on chicken bones to placate teething. No one had ever told her these things were not ok. She was doing the best she could, given the knowledge and skills she had.
Now there are those parents who truly aren’t good parents, who beat their kids, use drugs, and care more about their own needs than their children’s. But this isn’t the majority of parents. The majority of parents know being a good parent means providing your children with the basic necessities (food, clothing, shelter), as well as love and affection. The majority of parents also know children benefit from attending school, having rules and structure in the home, receiving positive encouragement from authority figures, and developing positive peer relationships. So if you already know this, you may be wondering how you really measure up, beyond the basics of simply keeping your child alive and raising a kiddo who isn’t a menace to society.
Dr. Robert Epstein, a famous research psychologist, created an inventory called the Epstein Parenting Competencies Inventory (or EPCI). The inventory was developed using scientific studies, and the inventory has been empirically validated by more than 2,000 parents. Higher test scores are correlated with more positive outcomes in raising children. The EPCI outlines ten skills, “The Parents Ten,” that are significant for raising happy, productive, healthy children. When you take the inventory, you receive a score in each of the ten different skill areas: Autonomy & Independence, Behavior Management, Education & Learning, Healthy Lifestyles, Life Skills, Love & Affection, Relationship Skills, Religion & Spirituality, Safety, and Stress Management.
So take the inventory and see how you measure up. In my experience, a lot of parents are most surprised by their scores in the Stress Management section, which is defined as, “You reduce sources of stress for yourself and your child. You practice relaxation techniques. You interpret life events positively. You prioritize and plan appropriately. You teach stress-management skills to your child.” And this is where Harmony At Home comes in. Because each child is different, and what worked for your first-born maybe just isn’t cutting it with your second child. Children vary in temperament, which can create extensive challenges in parenting, even with the best-intended, most well-equipped parents.
Remember, trying your hardest at parenting does not necessarily mean doing your best. Not to say you’re letting you infant daughter gnaw on chicken bones, but you may be lacking the skills to be the most effective parent you can be.