How Do You Define What It Means To Be A “Good” Kid?

In a recent conversation with my son, he was joking around and saying that he was a good-looking kid, and listing what he believed to be his finest qualities. It was kind of a goofy conversation, but then it took on a more serious tone when he asked if I thought that he was a “good” kid even though he can be difficult at times at home. I told him that it was an interesting question, and that the answer was somewhat subjective.

All parents want to believe that they have “good” kids, but how can anyone really be sure when there is no true test to make that determination?
Like most parents, I often experience moments of frustration with my children when they don’t behave the way that I would like them to, but I believe that it has more to do with their comfort level with my wife and me, and their desire to test our boundaries, than it does about defining who they are overall as people.

As the conversation progressed, I told my son that I did think that he was a “good” kid, despite the challenging moments that he creates for us as parents because of the way that he carries himself with all other authority figures and adults in general.

Often times through the years, his teachers have praised the way that he handles himself in classroom situations. I’ve witnessed firsthand the respect that he shows to every coach that he’s ever had (aside from me at times). And to his credit, his friends’ parents usually compliment his behavior to us and tell us that he is very polite and respectful when visiting their homes. All of these “third-party” verifications confirm my belief that he is, in fact, a “good” kid, even though his behavior at home sometimes suggests otherwise.

While this behavioral disparity can be frustrating at times, based on experiences that I’ve witnessed with other parents and their children, it is not at all uncommon.

A friend of mine is a soccer player with many years of experience under his belt, and has enjoyei-QLNvTsj-X3d great success in the sport. Like many boys, my friend’s son has also gravitated towards soccer, although he is an athlete that can compete in all sports.

My friend and I were talking on the sidelines as his son participated in a soccer tournament. At one point during the tournament, my friend tried to offer his son some advice, but it fell on deaf ears, as he was met with the following reply…“you don’t know anything about soccer!”

We both laughed as I discussed having similar issues, at times, when trying to offer my son advice about playing various sports. Knowing his son as I do, I know that he would never say anything like that to anyone besides his own parents.

If his son would have asked my friend if he was a “good” kid on the day of the soccer tournament, his question may have been met with the same pause that I gave to my son when he posed the question to me. However, as someone who has worked with a multitude of kids through the years, I would say unequivocally that his son is a “good” kid. He was just showing the side of himself that parents experience regularly, but the world never sees.

Written by Adam Waldman