What is the most important parenting quality?

A local-to-me blogger’s post today, The Baby Bug, reminded me of what parenting is about. The blogger isn’t a parent and doesn’t want to have children, but he finds himself recently helping a single mom by watching her newborn son for a few hours a week.

The experience seems to be changing him in ways that perhaps he doesn’t fully understand yet.

“Somehow the baby has affected me. Maybe it is his arrival at a time in my life when I am so self-consumed. My rather selfish nature has been turned on its ear as I look forward to offering my time to help watch the baby so the new mommy can rest. I get transfixed on the baby as I hold him, and hope that his future is one where he is healthy, and happy.”

The blogger has hit upon what I believe is the most important quality of a parent: selflessness. I came by this realization through the good fortune of observing a couple bad parents prior to becoming a father myself.

One was a dad so obsessed with his toys (yes, toys) that his own child wasn’t allowed to play with them. No, they weren’t collectibles, and yes, his favorite things were kept in a separate forbidden room.

The second was a dad who proclaimed that having a child wouldn’t change him. He’d continue to live the life he had always lived. And by golly, he did exactly that, to the detriment of his family, especially his wife who shouldered the task of raising her kids by herself.

I believe being a good parent requires you to be able to put aside your personal interests and desires to do what your children need, to put them first. If you cannot, then you begin to resent the many ways parental responsibility has forever changed your life.

You never know how a person will react when the job title of Parent is upon them, but I saw a glimpse of parental ability in The Baby Bug post and so I had to share.

Whatcha think? What are the individual qualities that lend themselves to successful parenting and which is the most important?


6 Responses to “What is the most important parenting quality?”

  1. Jennie D says:

    I allow my toddler to manhandle my most cherished childhood toy (a little Monchichi) even though it’s ready to disintergrate on its own.
    I allow him to eat the bottom of my Blue Bunny Chocolate Lover’s cones, even when I’m PMSing.
    If that’s not love… :)

    On a serious note, patience & selflessness are what I’d consider to be the most important qualities. Patience being the most important because you can’t be selfless without first being patient.

    September 14th, 2009 at 6:43 am

  2. Judy B says:

    A lot of our friends are expecting, or trying to start a family. I know some will be great parents, and some have no idea what they’re in for (i.e they have no idea how to be self-less and will be in for a shock when they have to make baby the #1 priority in their life).

    Parents/partners really need to be able to communicate with each other, ask for help when they need it (instead of sucking it up and becoming resentful), be patient and live in the moment. Our little boy has definitely made me enjoy the present moment and not worry about the next milestone, or what may be waiting down the road.

    September 14th, 2009 at 8:09 am

  3. Sal (from Planet Tapperass) says:

    First of all, thank you for visiting my blog.

    The baby is doing great, and our new mommy is starting to gain more confidence each day!

    Again thanks for the mention!

    September 14th, 2009 at 8:27 am

  4. tabs says:

    Just remember to love them unconditionally and remember you were a child also at one time in the past. These are the most important things to remember when parenting your children.

    September 14th, 2009 at 3:08 pm

  5. Amber says:

    patience & kindness.

    Everything else is a byproduct of those two qualities.

    September 14th, 2009 at 3:37 pm

  6. Jen says:

    i think it’s important to remember what it was like to be a child, and see things through their eyes.
    I remember as a child, things like going through the car wash (the kind where you can ride in the car), and I thought that was the coolest thing! Before I had kids, I remember taking my 4 year old neice though one, and it was like a major event!

    I love this quote… “TIME is the best thing to SPEND on a child”. Too many people think buying (expensive) things means they love their kids, when the kids would prefer playing with the box it came in!

    September 19th, 2009 at 3:51 pm