parent opinion

Mia Freedman: 'Focus on your parenting wins, not fails' and my other golden rules for parenting.

Mamamia’s Five Golden Rules series takes a look into the lives of Australian families. This week, Mamamia co-founder and Chief Creative Officer Mia Freedman shares her Golden Rules for parenting.

Parenting can be a really thankless job and there's a lot of things about parenting that are really, really boring

On top of boredom, there's also the parenting guilt to contend with and I remember feeling guilty that I felt bored at the park, which I hated going to when my kids were little... 

But it's okay to say these things because it doesn't mean we love our children any less.

I have three children. My eldest Luca is 24, and he's moved out of home. My daughter Coco is 16, and my youngest child Remy, is 13 and I have three golden rules of parenting that I'd like to share.

1. Focus on your parenting wins, not fails.

Often when we look at our own parenting in the mirror, we only see what's bad. We look at our bodies or faces in the mirror and we only see what's wrong. And what I'm advocating for is that we focus more on what's right with our parenting, not wrong. 

And I'll give you an example of how I learned this lesson. 

My kids liked to eat baked beans straight out of the can when they were little, and somehow I conditioned them to believe that eating straight out of the can, was a treat. 

I'm not immune to feelings of inadequacy however and I'd probably been reading some story about a supermodel who said their child's favourite food was raw broccoli, and I suddenly remember feeling so guilty. 

I was looking at my toddler daughter sitting in a highchair eating a can of baked beans with a spoon, or maybe with her hand, I can't remember, and I quickly took a photo. I texted it to my mum, and I captioned it 'Mother of the Year'. She straightaway texted back, and she said, 'darling, there's so much protein in baked beans and doesn't she look happy?' 

And she did. 

What I couldn't see was that my daughter had this beaming smile on her face. She was healthy. She was loved. She was secure. Yes, she was eating something out of a can, but it wasn't dog food. It was baked beans and baked beans ARE high in protein. And then just when I was digesting all of that, I get another text from my mum and she said, 'I've just seen that they are salt-reduced baked beans - you are an incredible mother!'. 

Yet all I could see when I looked at that image of my daughter in front of me, was all the ways I was failing as a mother. I couldn't see any of the ways that I was succeeding, and I think that it's a very female thing. To look at something with the opposite of rose-coloured glasses, it's more like s**t coloured glasses. 

If your best friend sent you that photo, or if your best friend said to you, here's what happened today and described an incident with their child. You would reassure them they were a terrific mother. 

Because even the fact that they were worried about being a bad mother means they're not bad mothers.

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