What makes a good mom? These 8 qualities of a mother will help you develop a close relationship with your child 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.
We won’t always call a friend and admit it, and often there’s no input. We don’t get annual reviews to let us know how we’re doing or any way to measure if we’re doing it right. Most of what we learn is a patching of experience, peers, and reading.
But I hear it time and again from so many moms wondering if they’re doing enough. Feeling scared to screw it up. Afraid of judgment. Carrying a mixed bag of loving motherhood, but secretly missing their old lives, pre-kids.
8 qualities of a mother
Guess what though? It’s normal to feel this way.
We think of motherhood like a goal—something to strive for and “achieve.” Instead, the qualities of a mother aren’t outward and achievement-based. Rather, it’s so rooted to who we are within.
We shouldn’t aim for perfection, but instead, develop traits that create healthy relationships for ourselves and our kids. Motherhood is a journey, one where we can develop the kinds of traits in ourselves we’d want to see in our kids.
So, what makes a great mom? Let’s take a closer look at this list of qualities of a mother. Guaranteed you have many, if not all. If anything, I hope it helps you as it did a fellow parent:
“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
With patience, we’re less likely to yell, lose our temper or say things we might regret, especially when it’s crunch time in the morning and we all need to get out the door. That’s why patience is key when it comes to motherhood.
You’re also more likely to accept your child’s behavior, from taking forever to put on his shoes to testing his boundaries. Patience helps you remember that taking forever or testing boundaries isn’t outright defiance—they’re part of his normal development and growing independence.*
Put it into practice:
- Take breaks! When I feel myself getting frustrated, I’ll tell my boys, “Mommy needs space. I’m going to have a five minute time-out in my room, and then I’ll be right back!” It beats the alternative: getting frustrated and losing my temper, then feeling guilty about yelling.
- Slow down. Take it easy. It’s okay not to get everything done this second. Putting so much on yourself causes unnecessary stress. And 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.
- Practice how to respond calmly. We’re not so snappy with our spouses, friends, or co-workers because we use a filter when we communicate. Why should we behave any differently with our kids?
Motherhood takes an emotional toll on even the strongest women. Fueling your inner strength and being the rock your child can rely on become even more important than ever.
Your child needs you to reassure his fears and anxieties, to be the one steady constant that will make transitions less worrisome. He needs to know he’ll always have a place to go for comfort. You are the steadying force in this often chaotic, confusing world.
So, how do you find strength to be there for your child when you barely have enough for yourself?
Put it into practice:
Be calm and reasonable. In times of crisis, don’t freak out. The other day, I was stuck in our apartment elevator with my son. I knew it happened from time to time, but feeling trapped was still not a good feeling.
If I had been alone, I would’ve had a full-on freak out: elevated heart beat, sweaty palms, feeling helpless. But I knew I needed to be strong with my son right next to me. My mind went straight into logic mode, and I ran through the steps to get us out of there.
I pushed my worries and fears aside so that my son would know we were okay—that this was nothing to worry about, and that we’d get out (and of course we did).
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. Kids need to know that adults make mistakes too. Have you ever tried to cover up something you did because you were embarrassed of letting your kids see? Let them see!
We can’t expect kids to own up to their own mistakes if we never do so to ours. We need to model how to make mistakes. Be gracious and humble, and your kids will too.
Apologizing respects children, just like you would any other adult. They’re owed the same decency and respect you’d give anyone else. In fact, it’s even more important that they’re given respect, because then they’ll be able to give it to others.
Humility is a gentle reminder that we’re on a path of lifelong learning. In yoga, teachers will often call the art of yoga a “practice” because that’s just what it is—you practice until you improve. It takes humility and grace to get better.
In the same way, practice humility and grace with yourself along this journey of motherhood.
Put it into practice:
- Don’t boast. Have you noticed, the more people are good at something, the less likely they are to brag about it? Boasting makes you look silly and less pleasant to be around.
- Apologize for your mistakes. This is a hard one. Swallowing your pride and saying you’re sorry can be difficult, especially with our own kids. But it’s worth it when you think of the example you’re setting for your child—and the kind of person you want him to be.
- Don’t always try to be right. It’s easy to get into power struggles with our kids when we insist on “winning.” Learn to see your child’s point of view and stop thinking of who’s right or not.
The definition of “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.
And that means you’re likely to calm things down than amp things up. The next timehe has a tantrum, give him a good hug, look him in the eye, and say “I get mad too sometimes.”
You see, if you’re like many parents, you launch into full-on battle mode when your kids misbehave. Your eyebrows furrow, you raise your voice, your hands are on your hips. You’ve lined up your arguments and feel all patience draining.
It’s you vs the kids. And if we’re being honest, it’s sort of an unfair battle when we know who’s going to dominate (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 best the student by taking the test and “winning.” Instead, she’s giving the student the tools she’ll need to take the test and 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 uphill journey of helping him learn.
Put it into practice:
- Ask why your child is behaving this way. Chances are, an underlying reason you haven’t even thought about is lurking beneath. Think of what he must be feeling and put yourself in his shoes. Would you have behaved the same way if it were you?
- Validate your child. Show or tell him you understand what he must be feeling. Often we just want to be heard—it’s no different with your child.
Want to learn more about empathy? Download my PDF, The Power of Empathy! Learn how to prevent power struggles and instead better connect with your kids, all by understanding their perspective. Get it below—at no cost to you.
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“All I can say is WOW! You read my mind. My daughter has been fussy here lately. It can get overwhelming, but wow, your words exactly explained me. You helped me realize the issue I was having. I knew I had an issue but you helped see what I needed to do. Thank you so much!!! You don’t know how big of a blessing you have become in my life. Teaching me parenting skills to be a better parent! Thank you!!” -Jaime G.
It’s easy to be snarky, bossy, sarcastic, or disrespectful to our kids, in ways we would never want other to treat them. So why do we do it?
Respect your child for being the unique person she is, not an extension of you. She’s a wonderful, independent person with a budding personality and her own tastes, likes and dislikes, wants and needs.
You’ll clash over ideals and opinions, but it’s never a reason to treat your child any less respectfully.
Put it into practice:
Close your eyes for a minute and think of how you treat your child. Then, take a look at this video where I share three important questions you should ask yourself to see if you’re truly being respectful:
Powerful, isn’t it? And if the answer is no, then it’s time to change course.
A good mom knows how to be responsive and nurturing, but also show authority and sets high expectations. Kids need boundaries so they can explore within safe confines.
When my little one started crawling, my pediatrician told me, “It’s your job to set boundaries and make your home safe, and it’s your child’s job to explore.” That advice goes well into toddlerhood and beyond.
It’s our job as parents to provide resources and support so we can set kids up to learn and grow.
Put it into practice:
- Be consistent and follow through with consequences. Inconsistency will confuse your child. She won’t know what to expect and might act out even more, since her actions aren’t met with consistent discipline.
- Set your expectations, and make sure your child knows what they are. She can’t be responsible until she knows what’s expected.
- Give your child choices. Choices will help empower your child and allow her to take ownership of her actions. She’ll be more inclined to comply if it was something she chose to do rather than something forced onto her.
If you’re a control freak, this one may be tough to hear. We can raise our kids to follow values, but we can’t form who they are as a person.
I have a friend who has three boys. Shortly after having her first, she and her husband were excited to get him signed up for sports. They dreamed of having him play every sport imaginable.
Imagine their disappointment when he showed no inclination for sports, and would rather read a book. Her second one became more interested in sports. And her third… well, he wasn’t into either.
My friend learned a valuable lesson: Forcing kids into interests, personalities, or hobbies that are more aligned with ours doesn’t respect their own passions and interests.
Put it into practice:
- Encourage and show interest in your child’s hobbies and passions. Be involved. Provide resources she needs to further her passions. (Remember, it’s not about you!)
- Don’t judge her interests. She’s developing talents, passions, and interests. Foster them. Provide props to help her explore, whether in the classroom or outside. Buy supplies. Borrow books from the library. Take a nature walk.
- Work with her temperament, instead of forcing her to mold to yours.
The other day, my son and I were busy scribbling in notebooks—he with his sketches and me writing notes for this article.
“What are you writing about?” he asked.
“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.”
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 unit. Love binds the unspoken words that say so many things, from reassuring a little scrape to filling his heart to the brim with “I-love-you-to-the-moon-and-back” LOVE.
You see, most of us agree we love our kids unconditionally. But do our kids know that? We smother them with kisses during happy times only to send them away 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 his emotions. He’ll know all his feelings are welcome. You don’t pick and choose which ones you’d like him to feel, or withhold your affection when he’s upset.
He knows you love him no matter what. From tickle fests to tantrums, from “I love you’s” to hurtful words.
He’ll also feel like he can be herself. He doesn’t have to pretend or hide because he knows you accept him for who he is. The more confident he feels about your affection, the less he’ll misbehave.
Reassure him you love her no matter what. That you’ll help him through his worst storms and won’t abandon him when he needs you most—even when she wakes up on the wrong side of the bed.
Put it into practice:
- Convey to your child that you love him no matter what, even when he’s in the middle of a meltdown or when he makes mistakes.
- Remind your child you love him just for being who he is. Make sure he knows he doesn’t have to do anything to prove it. Just being born is enough to deserve love.
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, even gossip.
We wage mommy wars on one another, and hear differing opinions on everything, from everyone. Living in the information age has its perks, but you can have too much of a good thing.
But in the midst of all the crazy, what makes for a good mother—and a good person—are the basic characteristics to who we are. The qualities we’d want to pass on to our kids as well.
Motherhood is like holding up a mirror that can highlight our best and worst selves. Let’s work on bringing out the best.
Get more tips:
- How to Be a Good Mom (Even When You Feel Discouraged)
- 7 Reasons You’re Not Enjoying Motherhood
- What to Do When You Feel Like You’re Failing as a Parent
- Time Management for Moms: Tips You Can Actually Apply
- Mom Guilt: 7 Reasons We Shouldn’t Blame Ourselves for Everything
Are you beginning to realize just how important it is to know how to respond to your child’s challenging behavior? In my ebook, Parenting with Purpose, you’ll discover how to prevent outbursts and handle meltdowns in a purposeful way.
Because ask yourself this: what’s your life going to look like a year or two from now if you continue to do what you’re doing? If you’re serious about making real change in your parenting, grab your copy of Parenting with Purpose and begin to build a strong relationship with your child today: