Why Good Moms Don’t Try To Raise Happy Kids

I saw a plaque recently that said: ” Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles, dirty ovens, and happy kids.” And it is one of the dumbest things I ever read.

Here’s a few problems with it.

First, the message assumes (all) kids are happy living in squalor. And it doesn’t even consider how their father may feel about that. I wrote about the dangers of forgetting fathers in a previous post.

Second, it presents cleanliness and happiness as variables in opposition to one another. A mom can have one or the other, but not both.

Thirdly, and most importantly, it sets an extremely low standard and objective for child-raising: keep them happy. That’s the one I want to focus on.

Good Moms Parent With The End In Mind

If a good mom’s goal is to raise happy children, then a good mom gives her children everything they ask for, expects nothing from them, and hands over her parental authority to them. Anything less tends to make children unhappy. But it’s a foolish and short-sighted strategy.

Truly good moms have a much broader vision for their children than simply to keep them happy. A good mom parents with the end (desired result) in mind. She raises her children to be disciplined, responsible, considerate adults. Self-discipline, responsibility, and understanding oneself as part of a family unit instead of the whole of it, these are not acquired spontaneously between treats and play dates.

Good parenting is plain hard work. If someone told you otherwise, they lied to you. Click To TweetGood parenting is plain hard work. If someone told you otherwise, they lied to you. And if you marry yourself to the idea it’s more important for kids to be happy than responsible, expect them to hold onto that priority long past when it’s cute. That’s how you raise a young adult afraid of “adulting.”

The Good That Comes From Chores

One of the most simple, direct, and time-tested methods of instilling the virtues needed to be a capable adult is to give a child responsibilities for household chores as soon as possible. (I recommend this article by Christine Tetrault at Trading Desks For Dirt for specific ideas.)

Giving kids chores doesn’t mean you stand over them and crack a whip. But neither does it mean obligation to make a game out of chores to convince them it’s fun. You can if you want; but at some point, a kid has to learn not to expect everything to be fun. Because that doesn’t prepare them for life – which, remember, is a good mom’s goal.

Through the responsibility of chores, you teach your child:

  • Practical life skills
  • Their contribution to the family matters
  • The importance of doing a job well (don’t consider half-hearted attempts complete)
  • The discipline of completing responsibilities
  • Thoughtfulness and consideration for members of the household
  • There’s a time for play and a time for work

The evidence good moms do not neglect teaching their children these important lessons is that the floors are not sticky, the kitchen’s not messy, there aren’t piles of laundry, the oven is clean, and her kids are happy AND responsible. Furthermore, her husband isn’t frustrated by house overrun with dirt and disorganization.

No Justification To Lower The Bar

This isn’t a matter of deciding between the extremes of having a “Polly Perfect” house and scraping by so Child Protective Services doesn’t remove your kids for neglect. Those are charicatures of moms some use to justify extreme reactions in the opposite direction. “I’ll never have a perfect house with 3 kids, so I’ll just give up and go play with them.” That’s the implied message of the plaque.

Still others find justification to nay-say principles of good parenting because they have an extreme personal situation. If you’re an exception because, for example, you have infant quadruplets at the moment or a life-threatening heart condition, then you’re an exception. This isn’t meant for you.

No one is advocating household perfection. There’s no such thing with kids in the house. Therefore, it’s needless to argue against a position no one’s taking. And neither is it legitimate to throw our hands in the air, leave our house in shambles to run off and play with our kids, and call it being a good mom. That’s only possible if you set very low standards for yourself and your kids.

Let’s not lower the bar of what it means to be a good mom because our kids and our marriages pay the price if we do.

Good moms have a parental backbone, responsible kids, a grateful husband, and a presentable house where everyone’s happy. Someone needs to make that plaque.

  • Jolene Sng-Ong

    This is so true! I’m so glad you feel this way too.

  • Ayanna

    Love this!! Having a clean and orderly house is very important to me and taking care of what we have is important to teach our kids.

  • Pingback: Kids and Chores – How Early Do You Teach Responsibility? | Trading Desks for Dirt()

  • Amanda Delgado

    Lol! “Someone needs to make that plaque” ?? such a good article and reminder of the massive responsibility we have as parents to raise our children with purpose in mind.

  • Sarah Camille Hipp

    I loved reading this. I’m not at the motherhood stage but I totally agree with your thoughts. It’s important to give kids some restrictions and instill good values. You don’t want kids to be shocked when they become adults and don’t get everything they want!

    • Wife Sense

      Sarah, you’ll make a good mom when you are at that stage. ?

  • I love the “begin with the end in mind” statement! (Reminds me of the 7 Highly Effective Habits books). It is so true when applied to parenting. We need to think long term, even when in the short term we are exhausted and it would be so much easier to let down our boundaries! Thank you for sharing!

  • Babies to Bookworms

    I definitely try to keep a balance with my daughter. I keep the house as clean as it can be with a toddler living in it, but I have also been in houses where the parents keep it so neat and delicate that kids aren’t allowed to do anything for fear of getting something dirty. I think kids need freedom to explore the world, get a little dirty and have fun, but I also believe in having rules and giving my daughter chores and pride in her clean home. It’s definitely a balance.

  • So much truth in this. Not sure when society decided that we need to cater hand and foot to keep our kids happy, but our minds sets definitely have shifted there. It really is so important to tech our kids reality and responsibility. Life is not always cherries and roses so why would we train our children to expect that only to get a rude awakening when they are out on their own and life gets tough. Great post!

    • Wife Sense

      Thanks, Annette! So glad to hear younger moms on board with teaching kids how to live in the real world from an early age.

  • Theresa Bailey

    I agree with this. Children need to be a part of the family and contribute towards the household in whatever ways they can. Fun is important, but skill building is too!

    • Wife Sense

      Absolutely, Theresa! It’s called balance. ⚖️

  • Fullest Mom

    Often, family members are concerned when I say no and put my foot down. They don’t want my child to cry in their presence. Sometimes, no is necessary for things such as over indulgence or potential danger. I’m glad you said it because I feel so much push back during those times. Very good post. I also believe in chores as means to chip in, not as means for rewards.

    • Wife Sense

      When family doesn’t want to hear crying in their presence, it’s about them. Remind them you’re parenting for your child’s good, not theirs. Stand your ground, Momma! ?

  • Courtney Byers

    This such a true post! I love your honestly and agree with your points.

  • Melanie

    I do not really think that it is fair to tell people what a “good mom” is. I believe that every mom views what a “good mom” is, differently. I definitely agree that there should be a balance of “a time to play, and a time to clean”, but it’s not fair to judge other moms. To me, being a good mom means doing the very best that I can and doing what I think is the best for my child, long term, and sort term. I do believe that it is okay to throw your hands up and say “I’m done with cleaning for today” and run and play with your kids. Because at the end my life I believe that I will had wished that I spent more time with my kids instead of thinking to myself “man, I wish I had done more dishes.” I also agree that it is important to do things to try to keep our husbands happy as well. But I feel like this is shaming mom’s who decide to spend time with their kids over getting laundry done for that day. A mom’s job is hard enough, we don’t need to be shaming and judging each other over how clean our houses are.

    • Wife Sense

      I appreciate your thoughtful comment, Melanie. I hear you saying it’s important to spend time playing with your children. I’m glad of that because I think it’s important too, and said “there’s a time for play and a time for work.”
      However, looking over your comment, I see a lot of the pronoun “I” in it. The point of my post is that we need to do what’s in the long-term, life-preparing interest of our children – not what’s in the interest of “I”. You misunderstood. You’re not the one to be doing “more dishes,” you’re to teach them how to.
      I do vehemently disagree with your statement of it not being fair to quantify what a good mom is. (And I’ll bet there’s a point at which you would draw the line, too. You can be sure the Department of Social Services has a line!) It’s “fair” to state my opinion of what makes good mom on my own blog. What I think you actually mean is that my opinion makes others feel bad – shamed and judged. Therefore, if an opinion makes anyone feel bad, it’s classified as “unfair.” I hope you see how silly that is. It’s a non argument because I could easily say you’re shaming and judging me for my approach to responsible parenting. Now where does the conversation go?
      What I hope women will do is put on their big-girl panties and ask themselves if there’s anything in the post that convicts them to up their motherhood game by focusing on the goal to parent with the objective of raising responsible adults. At the end of it, it’s not about the chores, it’s not about our possible regrets in later life, it’s about the kids.