She’s got the booty of a Kardashian, the chest of a Hendricks and the face of a Johansson. But does that mean your girlfriend is good mom material? Sexiness and nurturing ability aren’t mutually exclusive, but as Dr. Lawrence Levy, a licensed clinical psychologist in Boca Raton, Florida, points out, “Extreme attraction doesn’t always equal the best long-term relationship,” and raising kids is a lifetime affair. So, in honor of Mother’s Day, here are the seven most important inner qualities you’d be wise to consider when choosing the mother of your children.
1. She’s affectionate and kind
Beyond the usual 98.6 degrees, she’s a warm person. She likes hugging and enjoys putting people at ease. She’s nice to waiters and animals. She gets down on your niece’s level and talks to her in her regular voice. Instead of asking what your nephew did in school today, she grabs one of his toys and makes up a game (or she starts swinging him around by his ankles—kids love this).
What this means for you: Lots of good parties, lots of good foreplay and, yes, lots of talking about “feelings.” Better treatment in restaurants. A dog. Also, you have to marry her because your niece and nephew won’t stop asking about her.
What this means for the kids: Plenty of bonding, love and attention. “When a mom is involved and responsive, her kids are more secure and better adjusted, ” explains Dr. Wendy Grolnick, child psychologist and author of Pressured Parents, Stressed-Out Kids. They’ll respect people, animals and the planet, and their childhoods will be filled with laughter, pillow fights and putting peanut butter on the dog’s nose.
2. She’s emotionally intelligent
She sidesteps full-fledged freak-outs and is attuned to the feelings of others. Maybe she’s a runner or has a regular yoga practice. Maybe she meditates. Whatever it is, she carves out time for herself so she can stay balanced, even when Mercury is in retrograde.
What this means for you: She’s not crazy. She won’t play games or keep you guessing. You’ll know where she stands on parenting, allowances and pets before she misses her period. This might sound boring, but it’s actually awesome.
What it means for the kids: They’ll know the rules and what’s expected of them. “This kind of structure makes for competent kids who are good problem-solvers,” says Dr. Grolnick. She won’t flip over spilled milk, which means your kids won’t grow up to be emotional wrecks.
3. She’s confident
What this means for you: A healthy sex life and a partner who isn’t afraid to try new things.
What this means for the kids: They’ll be happy, curious people who are free to act like the kids they are.
4. She’s connected
Does she have close friends? Does she get along well with her mother and her siblings? Sandra Reishus, author of Oh No! I’ve Become My Mother!, says the answer should be a resounding “Yes!”
What this means for you: The whole “It takes a village to raise a child” thing might sound corny, but it’s no joke. If your girl has close friends and likes her mom, there’s a good chance that you’ll like them too. This will come in handy when you need advice at 2 a.m.—or a free babysitter.
What this means for the kids: Kids need a sense of community. Having lots of friends and a doting grandmother around will keep them social and on the path to becoming great world citizens, not to mention interesting dinner party guests.
5. She’s classy
She laughs at your dirty jokes, but isn’t “one of the guys.” She’s powerful without being loud and leads by example.
What this means for you: She (gently) keeps you in line—and strangely, you like it. You want to be a better person and surprise yourself by holding yourself to a higher standard. You want your children to inherit her qualities.
What this means for the kids: They’ll grow up to be thinkers and explorers. As teens, they’ll hate you less than their friends with more controlling or pushy parents hate theirs.
6. She’s humble
She realizes that perfection is overrated. “She’s good at finding allies, delegating and getting her partner involved,” notes Laura Gauld, parenting expert and co-author of The Biggest Job We’ll Ever Have. “She’s also able to let go of the myth that there is a right way to do everything.”
What this means for you: Doing dishes and folding laundry (and taking out the garbage and fixing the kitchen faucet and…).
What it means for the kids: They’ll learn it’s okay to make mistakes, which builds character and resourcefulness.
7. She’s good-humored
When you say things like, “You sound just like your mother,” does she laugh (and then punch you) or the other way around? A woman with awareness and a sense of humor is worth a thousand supermodels.
What this means for you: She’s good at diffusing potential flare-ups and can admit when she’s wrong.
What this means for the kids: They’ll learn resilience and to take good-natured teasing in stride. Be prepared—they just might tease you back.
More stories from our 2011 Mother’s Day Package