Ask Jessi: Will I Be a Good Parent?

May 28th, 2010by Jessi Arias-Cooper

A reader asks:

I have my first baby on the way and am starting to get really nervous. From feeding, to bathing, and everything in between and beyond, there is just so much to know. I have a lot of friends with children and they make it look so natural and effortless. I’m afraid to tell them that I’m doubting my own parenting abilities. How do I know that I’ll be a good parent?

Jessi says:

The wait for baby is an exciting and nerve-racking time for EVERY new parent-to-be. If you talk to a parent who says that she (or he) never had any pre-baby jitters, she’s either trying to help calm your fears, or embarrassed to admit that she’s human. D0n’t get bogged down by what appears to be easy for others. You said it yourself, they “make it look” so effortless. It comes with practice. I know that I’m not the same mom with my third baby as I was with my first. There’s an evolution that takes place in the heart and mind of every parent and it comes with experience.

There is a lot to learn, but no one expects you to know everything off the bat. Even the most seasoned parenting veteran has an “Um…what do I do” moment just about every day. Babies, and children in general, don’t come with directions. There’s a reason for that (besides the obvious discomfort and paper cut potential at delivery); all parents and children are different.

When it comes to the basics, such as bathing, feeding and swaddling, there are plenty of resources from the get-go. You have nurses, family, and friends that can share those techniques with you.

If you forget something or need clarification, just ask. Other parents are always a great resource and happy to help. If you’re bashful, hop online and check out a site you trust, like for instance (pardon the shameless plug, I’m human, too.) Thanks to the Internet, you have 24 hour access to helpful information.

As for the other more surprising parenting responsibilities like what to do if your son eats a caterpillar, trust your instincts. Trust me, you may not realize you have them, but they’re there. Parents need to listen to that inner voice and go with their guts. If you feel he needs a doctor, take him. If you feel he’s not developing at the right pace, consult a specialist. If he ate a caterpillar, call his doctor, and then laugh when you know everything is okay. By the way, none of my boys have eaten a caterpillar…yet.

The keys to being a good parent are trusting yourself and loving your child. The answers will come to you. If you’re still nervous about something, contact some support, whether that means your mom, your pediatrician, or the good folks online that have been there.

Don’t let your fears overcome your joy and put undue stress and pressure on you. If you’re thinking about the future and asking questions, you’re already a good parent.

Jessi Arias-Cooper is the senior writer and an editor for She is a work-from-home mother of 3 boys and has been married for 10 years. If she had time for hobbies and interests outside of parenting and keeping house, they would be jewelry making, baking, watching bad B-movie horror flicks and creative writing . If you have a question for Jessi, click here.

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