This may sound like a rant. And if it is, please accept my deepest apology. Then kindly continue reading.
I have been in several conversations with other parents lately where I have heard stories about parents feeling judged by other parents or even worse yet by people who do not have children themselves. And for some reason, this incites a fiery defense mechanism in me.
Additionally, it makes me want to say mean things. So I will go ahead and say it, “MEAN THINGS!!!!” Then I will say in the kindest way I can, “If you can’t say anything nice, then please shut your pie hole.”
All kidding aside, it actually makes me want to share two of the greatest lessons I have learned over the last four years as a parent. I refer to them as my parenting commandments. And they go like this…
1. Thou shalt not judge another parent for their parenting practices. For thou knows not what or where that parent has been nor does thou know what it is like to parent that child.
2. If thou does not have children, thou is wise to keep thou’s mouth shut about others’ parenting practices until thou has children of thine own because experience will likely change thine’s own thoughts.
Now before I incite a fiery rage in you, let me be clear about a few things. There is nothing wrong with not having children. (If you regularly watch children or nieces and nephews, you are a “parent” in my eyes anyway.) There is nothing wrong with having your own opinions. There is nothing wrong with choosing to parent differently than your friends, family or even your own parents. There is nothing wrong with having a plan for how you hope to parent someday.
No, all of that is fine and dandy. What I have the problem with is vocalizing your beliefs in the form of judgment to someone or about someone when they are not asking for your thoughts. It just isn’t very nice. And that goes for all things in life not just parenting. (If could be said, I am being judgmental about judgmental people. So you caught me doing it too!)
I think it bothers me so much because I was one of those judgmental people. I may have been the worst kind. I always said things like, I will never let my children…If my children ever…I cannot believe those parents…etc.
I was so arrogant about parenting. I thought I had all the answers.
And I wasn’t even a parent.
Here is an example. I talked so much trash on leashes. Then I had Paxton and discovered why they exist. We call it his “backpack.” ;) And it is a tool I have since thanked God for. Many, many times.
And to be truthful, I think that is one of the many wonderful reasons the Lord gave me my first son. I got kicked off my high horse. And it was good because I quickly learned that I knew nothing about what I thought I knew. And that was so. so. necessary for me. And humbling. But good nonetheless.
Since then, I have come to the belief that every parent has to develop their own parenting style. And that style will likely adapt and change as their child(ren) grows. And they should feel good about that instead of under the judgment of others.
Additionally, I have also learned that what techniques work for one child may not work for another. So the same parent may have to adapt their own parenting style within their own children. And that is okay too.
You may be the 1% who has the first perfect child that does everything in the way you imagined, and if that is the case, thank God for that gift and still keep your thoughts to yourself because it is likely that if you have multiple children they won’t all be the same.
When I look at other parents, I may notice when they do things similarly or differently to me. But I have learned that I have no desire to judge. Because I don’t have their children. And I don’t live their life. So I need to keep my pie hole shut. (Unless they are asking.)
- If one parent has their children go to bed at 7 and one at 11, so be it.
- If one parent sleeps with their child and one lets them cry it out, so be it.
- If one parent makes everything from scratch for their kids and another lets their child each store packaged cookies, so be it.
- If one parent starts teaching their child to swing a bat at 18 mos and another chooses to focus on teaching their child Mandarin Chinese, so be it.
- If one mom wants to breastfeed their child and one wants to use formula, so be it.
This leads me to the 3rd and final commandment:
3. When thou feels like judging, say to thine’s self, “To each thine own!”
Their goal for raising children may be creating quiet, polite children who submit to authority at all times and in all circumstances. Your goal may be to raise bold and confident children that are comfortable speaking to adults.
I’m not saying a person should not be passionate about their beliefs and firm in their own convictions, but I think it is necessary to understand that another person can be just as passionate in the opposite way as you. And the world still turns.
I also believe God made it that way. And he isn’t planning on changing it. I think he enjoys the variety instead of having cookie cutter kids or people for that matter.
So, the next time you want to judge, just remember how much you like to be accepted. Then repeat after me:
I’m not them.
They aren’t me.
And that is probably a good thing.
Then smile about it because I have a suspicion that their children and your children will likely end up pretty darn happy and healthy in the end.
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