What makes a good mom? In this article, let’s explore several qualities of a mother that can help us develop a close relationship with our kids and thrive in motherhood.
We may not outwardly say it, but chances are, we’ve all thought it: I don’t know if I’m doing this mom thing right.
Maybe you find yourself not enjoying motherhood as you imagined, or overwhelmed with how much life has changed since having kids.
But I’m willing to bet that you carry many of the amazing qualities of a mother within. It’s not about aiming for perfection but developing the traits that lead to wholesome relationships with ourselves and our kids.
So, what makes a great mom? Let’s take a closer look at several qualities that come with motherhood. I hope the article reminds you of your many qualities, as it did with these fellow moms:
“Thank you so much for the well-written wisdom. Today is an exceptionally hard day, and reading your article is just what I needed to hear. Thank you for putting down into words how I feel, as well as giving me suggestions on how to make things better.” -Holly
“Nina, thank you so much for your article. It was very encouraging!” -Cristina
“Thank you so much for the amazing tips. It helps me to be a better mom.” -Estrella
“I love this article! It’s very true and helpful. Some days it’s hard to know if I’m doing it right. Though I know no parent is perfect and every day it will seem like there are parenting fails, but there can also be many successes. Thanks for sharing this article!” -Shannon
“Very well said! Being a mom is a tough job and we have to set ourselves to do the very best we could for our children. I’m far from perfect, but I’m getting a little better every day—a work in progress. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post, Nina!” -Veronica
Table of Contents
We’re not infallible, so we shouldn’t try to behave like we are.
There’s nothing worse than letting pride get the best of you, and kids need to know that adults make mistakes too. Perhaps there was a time when you felt like you were failing as a parent or tried to cover up something you did because you were embarrassed.
You can’t expect them to own up to their own mistakes if you never do so to yours. Use this as an opportunity to model how to apologize, even if just so that they can learn how to do the same to others. Be gracious and humble, and they will, too.
Humility is a gentle reminder that we’re on a path of lifelong learning.
To start, apologize for your mistakes. Swallowing your pride and saying you’re sorry can be difficult, especially with your kids. But think of the example you’re setting for them—and the kind of people you’d want them to be.
And don’t always try to be right. It’s easy to get into power struggles when you insist on “winning.” Learn to see their point of view and stop focusing on being right all the time.
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Motherhood takes an emotional toll on even the strongest of women. Developing the leadership qualities of a mother and being the rock your child can rely on become more important than ever.
She needs you to reassure her fears and anxieties, to be the one constant that will make transitions less worrisome. That she’ll always have a place to go for comfort. You’re the steadying force in what can feel like a chaotic, confusing world.
So, how do you find strength to be there for her when you barely have enough for yourself?
To start, be calm and collected. Even if a situation frightens you, don’t project your worries and fears onto her. Remind yourself of what’s truly important, because so long as you have that, any other worry pales in comparison.
And remember all the obstacles you overcame during other challenging times—however difficult it was to go through that moment, you emerged stronger and better than ever.
Being a patient mom is key when it comes to motherhood. You’re less likely to yell or say things you might regret, like when it’s crunch time in the morning and you need to get out the door.
You’re also more likely to accept your child’s behavior, from taking forever to put on his shoes to testing his boundaries. Patience reminds you that his behavior isn’t outright defiance—it’s part of his growing independence.
When you feel your patience waning, remember to take breaks. When I feel myself getting frustrated, I’ll tell my kids, “Mama needs space. I’m going to my room, and I’ll be right back!” It beats the alternative: getting frustrated and losing my temper (then feeling guilty it).
Then, slow down. It’s okay not to get everything done this second. Putting so much on yourself causes unnecessary stress. Be kind to yourself—it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get those bills paid/dishes washed/bed made this instant.
And practice how to respond calmly. Think about your patience with other people besides your kids. You may not be so snappy with your spouse, friends, or co-workers—don’t behave any differently with your kids.
One of the best ways to be a good mom boils down to respect. It’s easy to be snarky, bossy, sarcastic, or disrespectful to our kids, in ways we would never want others to treat them. So why do we do it?
Respect your child for being the unique person he is, not an extension of you. He’s a wonderful, independent person with a budding personality, his own tastes, likes and dislikes, wants and needs.
You might clash over ideals and opinions and disagree more than once, but these are never reasons to treat him any less respectfully.
For instance, ask yourself if you would…
- be okay if your child treats another person the same way.
- treat another adult that way.
- be fine if another adult spoke to your child like that.
If the answer is no, then change course.
Empathy is the ability to understand and even share what other people must be feeling. Responding to your child with empathy makes you wonder why he behaved the way he did instead of launching into full-on discipline mode.
You see, if you’re like many parents, you get sucked into power struggles when he misbehaves. Your eyebrows furrow, you raise your voice, and your hands are on your hips. You’ve lined up your arguments and feel all patience draining.
It’s you versus him. And if we’re being honest, it’s an unfair battle when we know who’s going to win (hint: you). But when you discipline with empathy, you’re not out to win or lose. Instead, you’re on the same side.
Imagine a teacher and a student gearing up for a big test. The teacher isn’t trying to outdo the student by taking the test and “winning.” Instead, she’s giving him the tools he’ll need to succeed. Teacher and student are on the same side, just as parent and child should be. This isn’t a battle to be won—you’re both on the same journey.
To practice empathy, ask why your child is behaving the way he is. Chances are, an underlying reason you haven’t even thought about is lurking beneath his behavior. Think about what he must be feeling and put yourself in his shoes. Would you have behaved the same way if it were you?
Then, show or tell him you understand what he must be feeling. Often we just want to be heard—your child is no different.
A good mom knows how to be responsive and nurturing while also showing authority and setting high expectations. After all, kids need boundaries to explore within safe confines.
When my little one started crawling, his pediatrician told me, “It’s your job to set boundaries, and it’s his job to explore within those boundaries.” That advice goes well into toddlerhood and beyond, don’t you think?
It’s our job as parents to provide resources and support so we can set our kids up to learn and grow. Being authoritative is a balance of warmth and support with consistency and high expectations.
How can you be more authoritative?
First, follow through with consequences. Inconsistency will confuse your child. She won’t know what to expect and might act out even more, especially when her actions aren’t met with consistent discipline.
Then, set your expectations and make sure she knows what they are. She can’t be held responsible if she doesn’t know what’s expected of her.
Lastly, give choices, which will empower and allow her to take ownership of her actions. She’ll be more inclined to comply if the choice was something she decided to do rather than something she was forced to.
If you struggle with control, this one might be tough to hear.
We can raise our kids to follow our values, interests, and principles, but at the end of the day, we can’t form who they are as a person. Forcing them into interests or personalities that are more aligned with ours doesn’t respect their own passions.
One of the best ways to show your support is to encourage and be curious about your child’s hobbies and passions. Be involved. Provide the resources she needs to further her talents and interests.
And when it comes to personality, work with her temperament instead of forcing her to mold to yours. Maybe she gets overwhelmed with crowds, at which point you should reconsider forcing her to hug and greet everyone in your family. Perhaps she throws a lot of tantrums, which might mean giving her the tools to calm herself down.
It’s less about trying to change our kids so much as working with and appreciating who they are.
My son and I were busy scribbling in notebooks—he with his sketches and me writing notes for this article. He stopped midway and asked, “What are you writing about?”
“An article about what makes a good mom,” I said. Then I paused and asked him, “What do you think makes a good mom?”
Without skipping a beat, he responded, “Love.”
Isn’t that so true? Kids don’t need a ton of things, but a mother’s love is essential.
It’s the language that reassures them they belong in this world and to your family. Love binds the unspoken words that say so many things, from tending to a scraped knee to “I-love-you-to-the-moon-and-back” love.
You see, most of us agree we love our kids unconditionally. But do they know that? We smother them with kisses during happy times only to send them away to a timeout when they’re upset.
As I say in my book, Parenting with Purpose:
“We can’t judge their emotions, hugging and kissing them when they’re happy but withholding affection when they’re angry. Our kids will think, ‘Mom kisses me when I feel happy or excited, but then yells or ignores me when I feel sad, angry, or scared.’ We need to love and support them through all emotions—happy or sad, silly or angry.
It boils down to this: The times we least feel like loving our kids are when they need us the most.”
Be there for your child, through all her emotions. She’ll know every one of her feelings is welcome. You don’t pick and choose which ones you’d like her to feel or withhold your affection when she’s upset.
She knows you love her no matter what, from tickles to tantrums, from “I love you’s” to hurtful words.
She’ll also feel like she can be herself. She doesn’t have to pretend or hide because she knows you accept her for who he is. The more confident she feels about your affection, the less she’ll misbehave.
Remind her that you love her for being who she is. That you’ll help her through her worst storms and won’t abandon her when she needs you most. That she doesn’t have to do anything to prove it—just being born is enough to deserve love.
The bottom line
I can’t think of any other time when being a mom is scrutinized the way it is these days. Motherhood is on display 24/7 thanks to social media, the news, and even gossip. We wage mommy wars on one another and hear differing opinions on everything, from everyone.
But in the midst of it all, what makes for a good mom—and a good person—are the basic characteristics of who we are. The qualities of a mother we’d want to pass on to our kids as well.
We may not always get this mom thing right, but with these qualities—empathy, strength, and love, among others—we see we’re doing better than we thought.
Get more tips:
- Time Management for Moms
- The “How Do You Do It” Working Mom Survival Guide
- 3 Year Old Attached to Mom? Here’s What to Do
- 9 Self Care Tips for Busy Moms (That You Can Actually Use)
- Anger Management for Moms
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