Good parent? Yes, but how bad is your bad?


I grew up playing golf and was lucky enough to receive all kinds of wisdom from coaches and professionals around the Southeast. Some lessons were more helpful than others and some stuck with me because I think they were more about life than the game I was playing.

But, one such lesson is so important to this thing we call “parenting” that I need to share it here. Unfortunately, I cannot credit who told me because I simply cannot remember: 

It is not how good your good shots are, but how bad your bad shots are, that really matters.

What he meant is you can have a pretty decent day going and overall doing the right things. But, when you mess up, do what you can to recover quickly and not make a complete mess in one situation.

Think about that. Apply now to parenting:

It is not how good you are when you are good (although it is nice), it is how bad you are when you are bad that can really turn the day into a mess.

Some families are excellent when they are excellent. They praise wonderfully. They interact beautifully with their kids when things are good. But, that is not the problem.

The problem is when it is bad…it gets really bad.

Arguing, engaging in nasty back-and-forth and engaging physically. The way in which questions are asked is much different: on the good days the requests are made in a way that suggest helpfulness and teamwork, whereas the bad days the requests become demands that are “snippy” and almost with an air of “I know you are not going to do this.”

Behaviors that are easily overlooked or joked about on “the good days” are treated as major punishable events.

Look, I get it. I have long days when coming home to a tantrumming two-year-old and a fiery four-year-old makes me want to close the bedroom door behind me and escape. It happens. It is normal. It is not all carnivals and cookies at our house…trust me.

During those tough times, my initial reaction to a tantrum or a whiny “but mommy said I can watch a movie” can be different than the feeling I have when the same things are said to me after I have just had an easy day on the boat.

BUT…I have to realize that it is “how bad my bad shots are.” If I react poorly in the tough times, the result (my kids’ longer term behavior) will not be good.

This is one of those times I have to recognize and choose not to engage. If not, behaviorally, I will have to make up for my “bad shots.”

There is a lot to be said for understanding where you are emotionally and physically. We will all make mistakes. We will all have times when we are not going to make good parenting decisions because some baggage we carry into the interaction. We will all have bad shots. 

Your job is to make sure you have enough good shots, but also limit how bad your bad shots are.

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