1. They validate your emotions. They do not correct how you “should” feel about something, even if it is in fact the product of a misunderstanding. They always come from a place of empathy first; they put you, and your feelings, before their ego.
2. They are not only attentive to your emotions when it is convenient for them. The worst thing parents do is when they essentially punish their children for feeling because they don’t yet have the tools to intelligently process what they are experiencing. (This is basically the premise of emotional issues come adulthood.)
3. They don’t need to personally agree with something to see it as valid. This comes from seeing all other people as valid and worthwhile, even if they do not necessarily agree with what they think or how they feel about something.
4. They aren’t hyper-controlling. Since most hyper-controlling people don’t realize they are hyper-controlling, a good way to tell is by gauging how infuriated they become over the little things, like being spoken over accidentally, or being mildly inconvenienced.
5. They actually want children, independent of their relationship to you. The least competent parents are the ones who never wanted to have kids in the first place. If it’s something they don’t feel they genuinely chose, every little infraction will feel like a major inconvenience, rather than just being part of the package.
6. They see children as equal human beings. They think of parenting as guiding, mentoring, influencing and at times, disciplining, not punishing when their children don’t turn out exactly as they imagined therefore failing to validate them by making them feel competent.
7. They aren’t dismissive. They aren’t “above” anything that you like, and are happy to support whatever it is you want to do, or try, or strive for. They are not there to judge the parts of who you are, just to get to know them better.
8. They’re willing to learn from people who are younger than them. They aren’t hung up on the idea that seniority immunizes you from ever needing to develop or learn or grow.
9. They’re confident, and not easily threatened. Their sense of self is not going to be undermined by a misbehaving 9-year-old which is, unsurprisingly, why a lot of parents lash out (aside from a lack of sleep and what not).
10. They can hold space for you, even, and maybe especially, when they don’t understand what you’re going through. When you speak, they listen, they don’t just focus on formulating a response. They speak with you to understand you, not just to get their own ideas in edgewise.
11. They aren’t easily frazzled. They’re okay with plans changing, or things not being “just so.” This seems like a random, if not vague trait, but it’s probably one of the most important things parenting requires: endless, godlike patience.
12. They don’t blame other people for their problems, and they at least try to solve said problems before their issues bleed into other aspects of their lives.
13. They’re happy to do things that you’re interested in only because they love you, and love to see you happy. If you think watching Grey’s Anatomy for four hours straight every Saturday night is a lot, wait until it’s Pinky Dinky Doo for four consecutive months while your 2-year-old goes through a “phase.”
14. They’re willing to sacrifice. More importantly, they know what’s worth sacrificing for in the first place.
15. They’re working on establishing themselves as individuals prior to becoming a parent. People who are fulfilled independent of their role as a parent are better able to devote themselves to raising a child and not resent the kid for unenabling their ability to self-actualize outside of being a puke-cleaner-upper.
16. They love you. You’re not waiting for them to change their minds or commit completely someday. They love you and they sincerely want to be with you, and if nothing else, you know this for sure.