We, mothers, tend to put a lot of expectations on ourselves throughout the year, especially around the time we are setting goals and resolutions. Chances are for many of you that you have already failed at whatever parenting resolution you made.

When you set the bar at perfection, you will always miss it.

For instance, maybe your goal was to stop yelling at your kids, but a few days ago your child frustrated you, and you yelled at him. Alternatively, maybe your goal was to make lunch for your children every day so they wouldn’t eat cafeteria food, but then you had a busy morning and rushed everyone out the door, without their lunches.

We want the best for our kids, so we set high goals, but this only sets us up for failure. When you set the bar at perfection, you will always miss it. The truth is, your kids don’t want perfection from you; they just want you.

I would like to encourage you not to set any strict parenting resolutions this year and instead focus on three questions.

I’ve been a pediatrician for over 30 years. In this time I’ve realized that all children, no matter their age, have the same three questions about their parents. If you can address these questions, you will set yourself up to be an excellent parent this year.

What do you believe about me?

The minute you step into your child’s presence, she is scouring you to try to find out what you think about her. Are you happy, stressed, frustrated?

Your child then internalizes her read on you. For example, if you smile at her when she walks in the room, she will interpret that as, “My mom smiled. She’s glad I’m here. She thinks I’m great; therefore, I am great.”

Be aware of your presence around your child. Whether positive or negative, it is telling her what you believe about her and that is telling her who she is.

How do you feel about me?

Kids need to know that you love them every hour of every day. Does that sound excessive? It’s not.

I have experimented with this in my medical practice. When I’m seeing a patient, I’ll ask him, “Tell me who loves you?” Since the parent is in the room with us, I’m curious about what he’ll say. You know what answer I get most of the time? “Well, I know my mom and dad probably do because they have to.”

Moms, we are so used to doing things for our kids (making them lunches, signing them up for activities) in order to show them we love them when really, they need to hear us say it. Again and again and again.

What are your hopes for me?

Most kids don’t think about their lives after 25. As children and adolescents, they live as if the years after 25 will never come. That’s why they’re running around wanting to do anything they want all the time.

They need you, who understands that there is a lot of life after 25, to instill hope in their future. Talk about it with them. Tell them the hopes you have for them. That they will be loving. That they will be disciplined adults who have self-control so they can enjoy life. This will get them living and thinking beyond the here and now and give them hope for their futures.

The truth is, your kids don’t want perfection from you; they just want you.

Let go of the new year resolutions you are already failing. If you only get these three questions right, you’ve won this year as a mother and, more importantly, you’ve given your child the best start in life that will launch him to success and happiness.

by Meg Meeker, MD

Website | + posts

Dr. Meg is the country’s leading authority on parenting, teens, and children’s health.

Like you, she has know the frustration of arguing with kids, struggling to discipline, and worrying about whether or not they’ll turn out to be great adults. So whatever you’re feeling today, She has been there.