02/16/2012 02:12 pm ET Updated Apr 17, 2012

Why ALL Parents Are Better Than You

Dear New Parents,


How's it going?

Feeling a bit tired? Maybe a little less spry these days what with the 2AM feedings or trying to keep up with a toddler whose main occupation is trying to find new ways to turn your hair gray -- licking outlets, hurtling themselves down stairs, not eating antioxidant rich foods?

Maybe you're feeling a bit overwhelmed. Out of your league. Like you'll never get the hang of this parenting thing and the guilt is starting to seep in with more and more "Oh, what have I done?" moments.

How can this be? You aced Calculus, run your own successful business, maybe you even know how to drive a stick.

And yet you can't quite get over the feeling that if there were a parenting pop quiz tomorrow during Gymboree class, the best you'd get might be a C+. B- if you had a venti cafe mocha and a Red Bull.

All other parents seem like they have it under control. Know what they are doing. Are even -- dare you say it -- better at this parenting thing than you are.

I'm going to save you some wondering:

They are.

Other parents are better.

They are better than you in all ways.

They are better at disciplining their kids, motivating their kids, and keeping their kids out of harm's way.

Their children will have more friends in school, lead more fulfilling lives, and never need therapy.

Their kids will rule. And it will all be because other parents were much better parents than you can ever hope to be.


It's a truth I learned too late to save my own kids. It took me 13 years -- on the Internet reading parenting message boards, reading parenting books and magazine articles, then reading parenting blogs, and finally downloading the "Why Other Parents Are Better Than You" app -- to understand completely all the ways I would never measure up.

It's been disheartening.

But more upsetting was the sheer length of the process of fully coming to terms with the fact that, well, I kinda suck.

I mean, compared to other parents.

Most recently, The French.

So, to spare you my time and effort in learning all the ways I could change (but probably won't) in order to be more awesome (but probably can't), here is the definitive list of all the parents who are better than I am.

In no particular order.

  1. Strict Parents
  2. Laid Back Parents
  3. Urban Parents who give their kids access to lots of Culture and Street Smarts
  4. Suburban Parents who have Backyards, Good Schools, and Soccer Coaches From Brazil
  5. Country Parents whose kids Learn Responsibility by Running Large Farm Equipment and Who Know Exactly What To Call The Chicken Hole That Eggs Come From
  6. Parents who vaccinate
  7. Parents who don't vaccinate
  8. Parents who keep a clean house and who carry hand sanitizer in order to keep their kids healthy
  9. Parents who allow their kids as much contact with germs as possible in order to build up their immune system and keep their kids healthy
  10. Breastfeeding Parents
  11. Bottlefeeding Parents
  12. Religious Parents
  13. Atheist Parents
  14. Parents who don't know whether or not God can help them be better parents
  15. Conservative Parents
  16. Liberal Parents
  17. Anarchist Parents
  18. Noam Chomsky
  19. Free Range Parents
  20. Kiddie Leash Parents
  21. Natural Parents
  22. Hi-Tech Parents
  23. Unplugged Parents
  24. Parents who don't allow cell phones at the age you gave your kid a cell phone
  25. Authoritarian Parents
  26. Authoritative Parents
  27. Positive Parents
  28. Permissive Parents
  29. Persuasive Parents
  30. Mary Poppins Parents
  31. Dr. Sears
  32. Dr. Brazelton
  33. Dr. Laura
  34. James Dobson
  35. "I Love Ezzo" Parents
  36. "I Hate Ezzo" Parents
  37. Younger Parents
  38. Older Parents
  39. Parents of only children
  40. Parents of two children
  41. Parents of many children
  42. The Cosbys
  43. The Brady Bunch
  44. The Waltons
  45. The Duggars
  46. Kramer (The Dad, not Kramer The Mother)
  47. Parents who pick up crying kids
  48. Parents who don't pick up crying kids
  49. Parents who co-sleep
  50. Parents who don't co-sleep
  51. Parents who spank
  52. Parents who don't spank
  53. Parents who care enough about their kids to send them to public school
  54. Parents who care enough about their kids to send them to private school
  55. Parents who care enough about their kids to send them to homeschool
  56. Parents who birthed their kids vaginally
  57. Parents who birthed their kids vaginally at home with help
  58. Parents who birthed their kids vaginally at home with no help
  59. Parents who birthed their kids vaginally with no help in a rain forest on the summer solstice
  60. Parents who didn't birth kids vaginally just because they like fancy groin scars
  61. Parents who didn't birth kids vaginally because they are men
  62. Parents-to-be who will never make any of the parenting mistakes you made
  63. Madonna and Angelina Jolie
  64. Straight Parents
  65. Gay Parents
  66. Married Parents
  67. Single Parents
  68. Sister-wife Parents
  69. Parents with a high school diploma
  70. Parents with a college degree
  71. Parents with a graduate degree
  72. Parents with no fancy book learning
  73. Parents who read parenting books
  74. Tiger Moms
  75. Russian Moms
  76. Scandinavian Moms
  77. Southern Moms
  78. Your Mother-In-Law
  79. Mother Teresa
  80. Martha Stewart
  81. Crafty Moms
  82. Parents who blog about their kids
  83. Parents who don't blog about their kids
  84. Parents who update all their kids' baby books
  85. Parents too busy parenting to update all their kids' baby books
  86. Uber Moms
  87. Type A Moms
  88. Good Enough Moms
  89. Slacker Moms
  90. Parents who take time for themselves
  91. Parents who get down on the floor and play with their kids
  92. Parents who get down on the floor and teach their kids
  93. Parents who teach their kids to put in flooring
  94. Parents who stay at home
  95. Parents who work at home
  96. Parents who work outside the home
  97. Parents who are at home outside
  98. Parents who let their kids drink from the garden hose outside
  99. Parents who let their kids eat Chicken McNuggets from the garden hose
  100. Parents who let their free range chickens hose down the home as one of their chores
  101. Parents who pay their free range chickens an allowance to hose down the home as one of their chores
  102. Parents of chickens
  103. Parents of Chuck Norris
  104. My Mom

I may have missed a few.

I'm kinda subpar at blogging definitive parenting lists.

But surely, that's enough to convince you that you'll never measure up, either.

So, you know ... carry on.

Chances are that unless you are just really a complete jerk across several categories on a Venn diagram of types of jerks, your messed-up type of parenting is mediocre enough for your messed-up type of kid.

Even messed-up, you know more than you think you do. Maybe.

Still, you'll never be as good as Dr. Spock.