Kids, Parents, and Other Nonsense
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
So, this is about being a parent and being around other parents and raising kids. If that isn't your thing, you can click away now. If you enjoy listening to rants feel free to stick around, I'm glad to have you.
Our kids go to public school, I don't homeschool.
We see nothing wrong with requiring our kids to do chores.
We never let the kids sleep in our bed, even when they were tiny.
We are very strict about what video games our kids play.
My general belief is that a little junk food isn't going to kill my kids.
We are a bit old-fashioned and require the kids to use Mr/Mrs etc when addressing adults unless given permission to do otherwise.
I could go on and on. These are our parenting choices.
Let me be very clear. The operative word here is choices. I am not saying my way is the only right way. It isn't. There are lots of ways to raise children. It all depends on your family, your kids, your situation. I know that, I am hoping you know that. What I want to know is why so many other people don't know that. Why do people feel free to tell parents that public school is bad, your child who is mowing the lawn is overworked, and you shouldn't bake because sugar is bad for your kid? What is up with people?
I think if there is one piece of advice I could give new parents it would be "don't judge." It is so easy to always think that your way is the right way. After all, it works for you, shouldn't it work for every other parent on earth? And you know what? Maybe your way is the right way or the better way. But sometimes as a parent you can't do the better way. You can only do the way that is working for you right now. Sometimes there are circumstances that prevent you from doing the better way.
I learned that very early with my son. I had always planned on breastfeeding my children. It was good for them, kept them healthy, promoted bonding, all the things new mothers hear. Then my son was born and he had a cleft lip and palate. He couldn't nurse, literally couldn't. So I pumped and fed him with a special bottle and I was so disappointed and felt like a failure. (New mom hormones don't make much sense.) And some other moms would judge me for that bottle because they didn't know the circumstances. I remember sitting in a group of moms as they all talked about the joy of breastfeeding and I thought then that we never know what is going on behind the scenes. What about the mom who's baby was in the hospital for three months and she couldn't maintain her milk supply? What about the mom who is taking medicine that could harm her baby so she can't nurse? So much we don't know.
And it applies to all aspects of parenting. We never know. And we as parents want so badly to be doing it all correctly. We want some guarantee that our kids are going to turn out okay. If our decisions aren't the best possible ones then maybe the kids won't be fine. So tell the world homeschooling/public school is best because that is what we are doing and we have to believe we are doing it right. Insist that never letting your kid taste sugar is the way to go because otherwise the work of packing alternative snacks and denying them donuts is pointless. But you know what? It doesn't matter. There is no need to be doing everything right for the whole world. We only have to be doing it right for our family.
But don't go around telling the other families they are doing it wrong. Don't judge. You can have your opinion but keep it to yourself. If someone makes a different decision from yours that doesn't make their decision wrong, just different. (Unless you are insisting that reading is a waste of time. Then you are just plain wrong. I'm joking...kind of.) And their different decision doesn't call into question the validity of your decision. Why do people feel threatened by a different opinion?
You should firmly believe in your parenting decisions. You should think about them, weigh options, consider, and then do what you implicitly believe is right for your family. And you should still implicitly believe it is right even when someone else makes a different, also perfectly correct, decision. However, you shouldn't tell that person all about why their decision is wrong. Because there are two sides to every parenting choice. You can argue for and against public school, for and against junk food, for and against co-sleeping.
So we send our children to school, we feed them sugar, we make them do chores, and we were always thrilled they slept in their own beds.
You don't have to agree. In fact, feel free to completely disagree. Just don't feel free to tell us we are doing it wrong.
End of rant. This was not inspired by anyone who reads this blog, mainly because no one I know in the real world does read this blog. It was inspired by some very opinionated friends.