Since becoming a parent I’ve learned that voicing my opinion on how Jay and I choose to raise our children can make other people feel defensive about the way that they choose to raise their kids.
Why is that?
Why does the way we choose to parent make others feel the need to state their case?
Why is it that a parenting topic can cause a rift between a group of otherwise like-minded moms?
I don’t get it.
But I’m just as guilty of it.
I’ve defended why we didn’t pierce our daughters’ ears when they were born… why we didn’t use cloth diapers… why we used the 10-minute cry-it-out method… why breastfeeding didn’t work for us… even something as silly as why I like to have them clean up one toy before moving on to the next. I was told that I might be stifling their creativity by doing this. Clearly the person didn’t know me at all. 😀
I think being a mom (or a dad) is without a doubt the hardest job in the world, and I think the reason it’s so hard is because there is no handbook. No rules. No one-right-answer-for-everything. For anything, really. You get a kid and you just wing it for the rest of their life. Of course there are books on parenting. The internet. Well-intended family members. Our children’s doctors. But even those resources aren’t in agreement, even if we are seeking out advice from sources we trust. It’s completely maddening how little (unchallenged) guidance we have for the day-to-day choices we are forced to make.
So we do our best to feel good about the decisions we are making as our kids grow, because without a general consensus on the “right” day-to-day choices, feeling good about them is the best we can do. We don’t want to feel like we aren’t doing what’s best for our kids, especially when we are trying so hard. And when someone disagrees with our choices (or states that they’ve made the opposite choice) it can make us feel like we might not be doing our best. But in the end, we are the ones who have to live with the choices we are making regarding our children.
The thing is, we really shouldn’t be defensive about our choices just because we hear that other parents are making different choices.
Circumcise, don’t circumcise. Pacifier or thumb. Co-sleeping or crib. Water wings or toss ’em in. Computer time or books in bed. Chips, cookies, and McDonald’s or homemade grass-fed beef patties with spinach dressing. Time-outs vs. spankings. TV on or TV off. Or maybe don’t even own a television. The decisions you make for your children are just that – your decisions. They are your kids. Yours to raise. Yours to grow. Yours to deal with. Yours to educate. Yours to discipline. Yours to love.
In my opinion, none of us have room to judge or stand on a soapbox. But there are definitely things we should all make sure we are doing for our children, basic things that are much more important than the little choices we get defensive about. Things like caring for their health. Feeding them. Letting them have fun. Reading to them. Teaching them to fight for what’s right. Making sure they know without a doubt that they are loved.
That’s the stuff that matters.
As for me, I’m going to go load my kids up on super-sugary frozen drinks tomorrow. And give them a few hugs. 🙂