In response to roakes:
I am fortunate to have two strong, successful, happy adult daughters. While it may be a bit soon to consider your job as a parent 'done' with a 14- and 17-year-old, I congratulate you on your success so far.
Here are my thoughts on what makes good parents:
I believe a good parent never sees their child as an extension of themselves or their possession. Good parents understand each child's unique strengths and weaknesses, then supply just what is needed to make them stronger. They offer guidance, but let their children be responsible for their own work so they may enjoy their own accomplishments.
A friend once told me, "The child is the river and the parents are the river bank. We can guide them gently in the right direction. However, too much control and the river flows out of control and beyond its banks."
Even when they were very young, I found ways to give my children responsibility and encouraged them to make decisions for themselves. That's not to say they had no boundaries. They had many, including curfews. They could choose to follow the house rules or not. But my expectations and the resulting consequences for breaking the rules were always very clear. (You choose the behavior; you choose the consequences.)
Roakes, I'm not sure what today's child might say makes a good parent. But recently, my 25-year-old sales dynamo thanked me for setting limits and for holding her to high expectations. My youngest graduates with honors this week from a top-tier university and has her pick from a number of outstanding job offers. She credits my husband and me with helping her become a strong, ambitious, independent woman. (Remembering her as a head-strong toddler, I'm not sure we deserve the credit.)
I always felt being a parent was an enormous responsibility. There were times, especially in the teen years, when I looked forward to an empty nest. I am very pleased we are now friends and feel blessed to have these two exceptional young women in my life. Now comes the hardest challenge of all - not being the 'mom'.