parent opinion

'She stood up to bullies!' 10 mums on their greatest parenting wins.

I am currently in a really intense parenting phase.

I mean, let’s be honest, it’s all pretty intense, but some months are just next level. Sometimes this is because I’m struggling with something – health, work, friendships, marriage – and so my parenting prowess dips a little.

Often though it’s because my children are, well, children. They are growing and learning and changing. They are experiencing new things and they are going through developmental milestones or struggling with complex feelings. They are little humans learning about the world and that is often difficult, and their needs are great.

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It has been like this recently.

There has been a shift in my eight-year-old as he moves towards the tween years, but simultaneously has some regressions and needs to be ‘babied’ when all that change gets too much for him. 

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My three-year-old is truly hilarious and delightful, until he suddenly isn’t and is unrelentingly stubborn, and shrieks the house down when told it's bath time, or he is told not to throw balls in the house, or that he can’t watch the same Bluey episode eight times.

This is all stuff that kids do, but holy guacamole is it hard. And I regularly feel I’m getting things wrong, like when I relent and tie my eight-year-old son’s shoelaces for him, even though he is perfectly capable of doing it himself and I know I need to encourage independence. Or when I let my youngest watch the same Bluey episode four times in a row (not eight, so that’s a win), because I just can’t fight him anymore.

I regularly feel like a parenting failure and that I am very much getting things wrong. This leads me to enter a spiral of fear that my children won’t cope in the world, and that we won’t have set them up to be capable, kind, self-aware humans. 

But then last week, I had such a beautiful parenting win I wanted to high-five myself. I was talking to my big boy about his day, and he shared that one of his friends had experienced a really tough moment. He’d had what sounded like a panic attack. So my beautiful son sat with his friend while the friend processed his difficult feelings. He encouraged him to take deep breaths and talked to him about things they like to do together and funny things from shows or games until he felt better.

Well, my heart swelled with pride. 


This is what we do with our boys when they are struggling with big feelings. We sit with them, give them cuddles, help them breathe, and then chat with them about things they like until they feel better. And my son did this for his friend. What a parenting win! What a relief to know we’re getting some things right!

So, I put the word out to other parents in my community and asked them to share their parenting wins, and wow, despite the hardship, we are all actually doing okay at this parenting gig. 

1. 'She stood up to bullies.'

"Recently I found out from another parent at school that my daughter stepped in when she witnessed bullying. She saw one of the girls in her year being excluded by the group of girls she normally sits with – I think there were even comments on bodies which made my heart crack. So, she said to the excluded girl in front of the others, ‘Come and play with us, we’re drawing with chalk under E block’, and the mother said it made that girl feel safe and much better."

2. 'He's a blood donor.'

"I found out that my 19-year-old donates blood every three months. It told me that we must’ve done something right."

3. 'He apologised and told me he loved me.'

"My son has complex high-functioning autism, alongside several other neuro-diversities. He has mega-meltdowns quite regularly, and at 11 years old can say some horrendous things in those moments. When he’s calm afterwards, I talk to him about the meltdown and the things he said that hurt my feelings. Last week he had a really intense meltdown, and about an hour later when he’d calmed down and was playing quietly, he looked over at me and said he was sorry he had behaved that way, and that he loves me. Look it wasn’t perfect, I’d like to get him to the point where we have some other tools to work through hard feelings, but it’s a great start that he can acknowledge his behaviour and its impact." 


4. 'She ate her veggies.'     

"I have been trying to introduce new foods into my four-year-old’s diet, she is so fussy and regularly has a big tantrum if I try to offer her something other than her 10 favourite foods. But last week I made her a pizza with lots of veggies hidden under a lovely coating of cheese. Well, she gobbled it all up without complaint – corn, zucchini, tomato, capsicum, onion (plus lots of ham and cheese). That was a win!"

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5. 'He picked up litter in the park.'     

"I had my then 9-year-old’s birthday party at the local botanic gardens, and after the usual cake, party food and games, he and his friends noticed rubbish in the gardens, and began a clean-up effort and filled up the rubbish bin with rubbish from the gardens!"

6. 'She's so self-sufficient.'    

"My youngest is primary school age, and we are blown away by how self-sufficient she is. Her ability (and keenness!) to prepare a variety of snacks and meals on her own, and manage her type 1 diabetes while she is at school, is so inspiring."

7. 'A good big brother.'    

"Recently my son helped his little sister when she fell over at school. She was very upset, and he took her to the office to get a band-aid for her knee, and walked her to her classroom after lunchtime!"


8. 'He got a haircut – even if it was a mullet.'    

"We considered it a ‘parenting win’ when our middle child agreed to get a mullet after a lengthy period refusing to get any kind of haircut!"

9. 'Our adult kids like each other's company!'     

"Our three adult children organised and paid for a holiday away together, simply because they like each other – ding, ding, ding, winner!"

10. 'She spoke out against racism.'

"My two daughters were catching the bus as they do most mornings. We live in regional Victoria, and there is some diversity, but not as much as in the city. A young boy from their school was extremely rude to a Sudanese woman at the bus stop; speaking inappropriately about her skin colour directly to her. My daughter was so upset by this that she went and spoke to the woman and said, 'I don’t know that boy but I am so sorry he spoke to you like that, you never deserve to be spoken to that way by anyone.' Then she reported the boy’s behaviour to a teacher at school.

"I was so proud of her. I only found out because when I walked her to the bus stop the lady came and told me how grateful she was. She said it makes a huge difference when a child sees the pain it causes and does not accept racism."

Cate Gilpin is a Mum of two, based in Meanjin (Brisbane). By day she works for a not-for-profit, and by night she is a freelance writer who likes watching a lot of British murder mysteries.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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