How do you spot a good parent?

Every once in a while, people will say they can tell that I’m a good parent because my kids are so well-behaved.

This makes me uneasy.

It makes me wonder: If you saw my kids misbehaving in this moment, would that make me a bad parent?

I further wonder: Is the mark of a good parent simply that their kids don’t make other people uncomfortable?

I think of the bumpersticker: Well-behaved women seldom make history. And I think about the kind of children I want to raise.

Do I want them to measure their success as human beings according to other people’s approval? Do I want my success to be measured that way?

No. I don’t think so.

Not that I don’t love it when my kids are kind and respectful and easy to be around. I’m just saying there’s more to it than that.

The truth is, we simply can’t know how any particular snapshot in time fits into the bigger picture of who a person is, what they’re learning, or where they’re headed. Judgments of good and bad don’t help.

So, what does help?

It helps me when people remember that they are witnessing but one moment of my journey.

It helps when people encourage whatever skills they see me (or my kids) trying to develop, no matter how fledgling they currently are.

It helps when people acknowledge their own strengths and shortcomings as well as mine.

And it helps to remember that all of us are bigger than our flaws -- even when our flaw is passing judgment.