We all know some badasses. They think differently than most people. They speak up. They live by their own code. They don't listen to the haters.
But what about badass parents? What sets them apart from the crowd? After some very informal research, here's what I've come up with.
1. They practice radical self-responsibility. Badass parents have an unusual ability to identify their needs and then find a way to meet them -- without whining or playing the victim card. They take responsibility for their choices -- to work (or not), to cook (or not), to take a vacation or stay at home and even their choice to have children. They don't tether their happiness to their children because they know that it was their choice to bring them into the world.
2. They say no -- and mean it. Badass parents know their boundaries. They are aware of their rules and aren't afraid to tell their kids "no" when those rules are violated. Anything but shrinking violets, they are strong in their convictions and bold in their reprimands.
3. They follow the beat of their own drum Badass parents preserve the values that they are teaching their children at the risk of pissing off other parents. I saw this scene on a playground once: a father corrected a young boy for climbing up the jungle gym upside-down and unsupervised. Calmly, but with confidence, this boy's mother said something like, "He's fine. I'd rather him face going to the ER than face a fear of climbing."
4. They get their hands dirty. Whether it's playing one-on-one basketball or making a homemade pizza, they are actively engaged with their kids. They can put down their phones and resist scanning another inane status update because they know no screen is more important that participating in their kids' lives.
5. They are passionate about something other than their children Badass parents have something in their lives, apart from their families, that gives them deep meaning. Their purpose, cause or belief is deeply embedded in their DNA and makes them better people. Their drive to contribute to humanity in some positive way only feeds their desire to be a badass parent.
6. They are honest. They talk openly about sex, masturbation, Prop 8, strangers, what the F-word means and any other topic that could be uncomfortable. They don't fear these conversations, but see them as an opportunity to connect with their kids and reinforce the values they're trying to teach them. And they are honest about their own mistakes. They don't shy away from admitting their failures, because they know that this transparency helps their kids be honest, too.
7. They let their kids fail. There's some compelling research out on grit which says the secret to success is actually failure -- or learning from failure. Badass parents know this is true. If they want their children to succeed in the long-term, then their children have to develop grit by experiencing some failure in the short-term. Anything but helicopter parents, they insist that their kids learn hard lessons, then move on. It'll only make them stronger.
8. They brag on their kids. And really badass parents brag on their child within earshot of that child. They know that one of the most powerful forces in a person's life is the approval of his or her parents.
9. They let their kids be themselves. Badass parents don't need to personalize the successes or failures of their children. Their children can wear side ponytails, mismatched clothes and talk about Minecraft ad infinitum. They understand that this child is a unique person with a vast array of tastes, temperaments, preferences and motivations. They don't need to manipulate or cajole their child in order to get results that make them feel better.
And badass parents know that clinical psychologist Dr. Shefali Tsabary is right: "When you parent, it's crucial you realize you aren't raising a 'mini me,' but a spirit throbbing with its own signature."
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