Reddit user moonunknown writes, “I did not grow up in a happy home, and I’ve seen a lot of people that had similar experiences. I thought that there must be parents that do a good job though. I want to be a good parent.”
And so the redditor put out the question: “Children of good parents, what did your parents do right?”
Thousands of comments came in as people reflected on their childhoods. Here’s what we can extrapolate from the thread about “good” parents. (As a mum of young children, I am furiously taking notes.)
They don’t always give the easy answer
Panic_Azimuth’s mum knew that the best lessons come from experiences (not Google).
When I was little we lived near a freeway. I asked my mum one time how far the freeway went, and where we would be if we just got on it and kept driving.
She had a map. Did she show it to me?
Nope. She said, “Let’s see.” We hopped in the car and drove for hours until we were both tired of it, THEN pulled out the map and found a route home along the shore of one of the US Great Lakes. This was in the ‘80s, before GPS or mobile phones. I was maybe 10 and she let me navigate home.
She could have just told me or shown me on the map without leaving the couch, but she wanted me to know ... and maybe she wanted to know herself.
They judge the action, not the person
Love should be unconditional, according to the parents of BecciButton.
When I did something dumb and my parents were angry they always made clear that they were angry about the action and that that didn’t mean they [loved] me any less.
Overall I never felt left out or not wanted or scared that my parents didn’t love me.
As a consequence I was never scared to tell my parents when I did something stupid or got a bad mark in a test or anything.
They don’t shelter their kids from the truth
Velour_manure’s parents felt it was ok to be open about their struggles.
They were very transparent with me and my brother. When money was tight, they would tell us. We would ask why we were eating the same meal every night and my mum would say she was swamped at work and bills were piling up, and that made a lot of sense to us even though we were just kids. When someone in the family died, they would tell us straight up and not sugar coat anything. They would take us to funerals and treat us like adults.
They aren’t afraid to change situations that aren’t working
You can shift rules that no longer apply, as DJUMI’s father did.
Growing up, going to church every Sunday was mandatory. When I was about 15 my dad realised that I wasn’t getting much out of it (I fell asleep during service a lot), so instead of making me go to church he took me out to breakfast every Sunday morning. The conversations we had helped me mature, work through my problems, better understand myself and form a strong bond with my father. Eternally grateful for the wisdom he shared with me.
They don’t stop dating each other just because they have kids
For too many couples, romance screeches to a halt the moment kids come into the picture. Not for MissyTurtle’s parents.
My mum and dad both strongly believed the best way they could help us become good adults was by them being a united loving team. They are hitting 27 years of marriage this summer. They go on weekly dates, flirt, and help one another. I had the privilege of growing up in a home where I knew my parents loved me and my siblings and they loved each other. That was a huge stabilizing force in my life.
And if they’ve split, they remain respectful toward each other
Several redditors wrote that their parents had divorced. What made all the difference, they concluded, was how they treated each other after.
Despite my parents divorcing when I was in my early teens, my parents never showed disrespect towards each other. Even as a moody teenager I once made a snarky comment about my mum while with my dad and quickly got my arse chewed and it was made clear I wasn’t allowed to talk that way about her.
When my father left my mother for another woman I was prepared to never speak to my him again. My mother sat me and my siblings down and said “even though your father was a shit husband do not let this strain your relationship with him because he is, and will continue to be, a fantastic father.” I cant imagine how hard that must have been. I credit her for the wonderful relationship I still have with my father.
They teach rather than dictate
ItsACaragor’s mum emphasised the “why.”
My mother never forbade us to smoke or drink, she just told us it was bad for us and that it makes you addicted.
As a result smoking was nothing rebellious to us and when we tried it eventually we just didn’t see the appeal and stopped pretty fast.
They start with a baseline of trust
This went a long way for Tiork.
They didn’t question why my door was closed, and trusted me enough I wasn’t doing anything bad.
They have their kids clean up their mistakes
G2King remembers this experience:
Me and 2 brothers were Christmas tree shopping as little kids with my father. We were throwing the cut off tree stumps at each other and at the store itself. Upon hearing this news on the drive home, my father slammed on the brakes and proceeded to turn the truck around. Now we are all scared and start to apologise to him. My father’s response, “don’t apologise to me, you are going to apologise to the owner!!!” He drove us back and lined us up to each explain to the owner that we were being destructive to his store and to apologise to him. This experience showed that my parents taught us to always be accountable for our actions and that there are always consequences for the things we do.
They’re not arseholes themselves
FreestyleKneepad’s parents taught by example.
I’ve seen my parents get unbelievably mad with cable companies, but never to their face; they keep their cool and stay as polite as they can be on the phone, then blow a gasket after the call where it won’t get dumped on a call center worker who doesn’t deserve it. Just because you’re having a shitty day doesn’t mean they need to get cussed out too.
They support their kids’ interests, even if they may not understand them
A parents’ role is to guide kids, and then stay out of their way. As mgraunk writes:
My parents are imperfect, but they did a lot of things right. The biggest one that sticks out to me is that they’re supportive of things my brother and I like even when they don’t understand or like it. They didn’t really care for skateboarding, but they spent hundreds of dollars over the years for my brother to enjoy his hobby. They not only helped me get a drum set, but allowed the band to hold practice in our basement and drove us to all our shows. They wanted me to be a lawyer, but they were willing to settle for line cook. It made a difference in the long run, because eventually it helped me realise that I get to make my own choices in life - nothing is laid out for me. I can do whatever I enjoy, and my parents will be there for me, cheering me on.
Read all of the responses in the original Reddit thread.