These seven mind-sets from our good parenting guide will help and reassure you as you make the transition to becoming a parent—and for many years down the road as your baby grows.
Wondering if you “have what it takes” to be a good mom? It’s natural to feel nervous about a new (and life changing!) experience. Most moms-to-be share this worry at some point. The good news: Simply asking that question—“Will I be a good mom?”—shows that your heart is in the right place. You’re eager to do what’s right for your baby—and that attitude is half the solution!
Here are tips from our good parenting guide to help ensure that you’ll be great:
Realize there’s more than one way to be a good parent. If you’re looking for the magic step-by-step formula for how to raise a child, well, you’ll still be searching by high school graduation. The reality is that great parents actually take many different paths and make their own decisions.
Give becoming a parent time. Don’t feel the maternal instinct? Never connected with babies before? Relax. Research shows that a mother’s impulse to love and nurture her own child seems to be hardwired into her brain. When researchers in Tokyo looked at the brain patterns of mothers while viewing images of their own baby and others, they saw distinctly different responses when the mothers looked at their own babies, especially when they were distressed. So even if you don’t feel like you will be a good mom now or when you deliver (which isn't uncommon), you’ll still be moved to protect and nurture your baby.
Expect to make parenting mistakes. The first time you fumble through the “baby origami” of swaddling or forget to burp your baby after a feeding isn’t the end of the world—or a reflection on your overall parenting skills. Every parent gets a few things wrong (and most things right).
Avoid taking parenting criticism personally. Strangers in the street will judge because your baby isn’t wearing a hat. Your choices about feeding, diaper brands, or your baby’s name will be roundly debated. Remember there’s no single right way to raise a child. Keep an open mind—sometimes you’ll pick up great ideas that save you time or money—but try not to be bullied into questioning the decisions you’ve already made.
Welcome help. There’s little point in trying to be a good mom in a vacuum, all by yourself. A world of people will shape your baby’s life, from your partner and family to your friends, your health care providers, your babysitters, your neighbors, and others. Let them in. A really good mom knows that the challenge of raising a child is made easier when you have help from others.
Lower your expectations. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting everything to be perfect for your child. That’s a stress-making quest you can never win because life is never perfect. Choose more playtime over a pristine floor, an extra snuggle over stain-free clothes. Nobody can be perfect, but anybody can be happy.
Keep a sense of parenting humor. When that orange carrot spit-up hits your new blouse, or you leave the house wearing two different shoes because you barely slept the night before, you’ll feel much better if you can laugh. And every other parent you tell the story to can relate.