Focus on What Matters

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. 🙂

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12 thoughts on “Focus on What Matters

  1. I love the way you write, Susie! Thank you for this post. I really, really appreciated it. It made so much sense. I wish all parents (including myself at times) had this kind of attitude towards parenting. I always felt very defensive and like I needed to explain to people why I didn’t breastfeed my two boys when they asked about it. My own brother was the worst. He finally apologized and said he’d been wrong for pushing me on it. His wife had an extremely easy time breastfeeding, enjoyed it, and got up around the clock religiously just to pump sometimes for MONTHS on end so I guess he thought that every woman was or should be like that. NOT! LOL

  2. Sanne Williamson says:

    You know I couldn’t agree with you more!! I love talking about parenting stuff with you because I know that it’s safe… We don’t always agree and don’t do everything the same way but we have the same goals, morals and values and always support each other and don’t judge. And we understand each other.
    I definitely don’t feel that way with everyone and I value it so much more than you’ll ever know.
    Enjoy that sugary goodness tomorrow! We had a McD’s picnic tonight while watching a movie. 😃
    Love ya!!

    • ❤ Exactly! I love that there's no judgement between us. Who's to say who is right or wrong anyway? I'm sure we will have to take turns leaning on each other for years to come as we deal with the consequences of today's choices! 😀

      • Sanne Williamson says:

        Plus what bothers me is that what works for one child may not work for another, even within the same family. And what works for one family may not work for another. As long as you know someone is making the right decisions for THEIR family and doing their best, then that’s all that matters. Who cares what you or I or anyone else thinks!
        I’m definitely guilty if judging at times and need to remind myself of what J just said above… And I in turn often feel judged too about really stupid stuff as well as important stuff. But until you live in my house and parent with me every day, you don’t get to judge or tell me what to do.
        Ok, I’ll get off my soap box now… 😄
        I look forward to leaning on each other for a long time to come! 😘

          • Hey Susie….just wanted to make sure you saw my response to your email from this morning. I didn’t hear back from you at all today so I thought I’d better check and make sure you got the email.

            *** This is Susie – It wouldn’t let me reply to your comment, so I’m editing it to reply. I just sent you an email, thanks for getting back to me! 🙂 ***

  3. Anonymous says:

    THAT is exactly why we stated, (in the past) that we had to reward you (and Kevin) differently, punish you differently, and so on. No one rule applied to either one of you, (or both of you). It is an ever changing, fluid, flexible task that never ends! You CAN’T do it “by the book” in any relationship, it simply does not work.

    It is a joy to see you evolving and learning the things we had to learn, just to keep an even keel on your household. Will you do everything right? No. Will you regret some of the things you did? Yes, (I certainly do). But (hopefully) in your relationship with your family in the end you will come out with more positives than negatives.

    We are impressed with the way you and Jay both relate to your children and lovingly teach them. The “success stories” you mention are ONLY the positive things people want to report or remember. Your well on your way to your own success story, but understand that fully depends on the rest of your family! 😉

    Love ya!

    Papa Bear

    • Like most things in life, parenting is something you can only learn once you’re experiencing it for yourself.

      Jay and I are fully prepared to handle the girls differently as their personalities will have different needs, but we feel that there are fundamental family standards that both girls should be held to.

      In any case, I (we) don’t need to defend our choices to anyone, and I don’t want anyone to feel they have to defend theirs to me, and that’s all I was trying to say. 🙂

      Love you too Papa Bear! ❤

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