We all have different parenting styles and family values. But before you judge, here are three compelling reasons moms are in this together.
Be honest: At some point, you’ve thought about others with different parenting opinions from yours as strange. Uninformed, selfish, lazy, backward.
This thought process applies to so many parenting debates over the recent years. The parents we see at Target at 9:30pm with their three-year-old, while yours has been sleeping for hours. Those who give their kids packaged food (Ugh… Lunchables). The mom sitting at the playground bench should stop checking her phone and play with her kid already.
We think parents who let their kids watch television are lazy and don’t interact with their kids enough. How about the ones who let their kids skip naps. And of course the parents who don’t send their kids to preschool.
Let’s not even get into the breastfeeding, the vaccinating or the co-sleeping.
We hold tight to our values and beliefs, and in so doing, we exert effort not to judge others on our good days. Other times, we judge.
Why moms are in this together
We justify what we do, whether it’s breastfeeding or not giving our kids cookies. And we use the opposite side—the one we completely disagree with—to aid our argument. The more we look down on others’ decisions, the more sound ours seem.
Except we run into a few problems doing this (three of them to be exact).
1. A change of heart
The first is the simplest: we’ll likely be our own biggest hypocrites. I don’t know about you, but I’ve gone back and forth or changed my mind on parenting issues. I’ve found myself to be the person I had been critical of. (Read about the irony of judging moms here.)
Case in point: The examples about the mom sitting at the playground and those that give kids processed foods? I once scoffed at the notion of both of them. But yep—I now sit at the playground bench and pack Goldfish and gummy bears.
I also tend to be “pro-homework” and believe we’re better off with it than without. But then my son received an extra-heavy packet of homework, and even I had to tell his teacher he wouldn’t be able to turn it in on time.
Our lives change. Having three kids (twins at that!) made me less strict about them watching television if it meant 30 minutes to prepare for bath time.
Hold your values and beliefs, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself on the opposite side. Or even teetering on the fence.
2. The engaged parent
The second problem with judging others goes into the notion of the engaged parent.
Picture the mom who does everything the opposite of you. She does time outs but you don’t. She rocks her baby to sleep, you sleep trained yours. She doesn’t always read to her kids every day, you set aside at least 20 minutes before bedtime.
Now, who is the “better” parent? Not exactly a telling question, as the answer depends on which “side” you’re on.
Instead, when you ask who is the engaged parent, you’ll see the answer is: both.
I love this quote from Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (affiliate link):
Engagement means investing time and energy. It means sitting down with our children and understanding their worlds, their interests, and their stories. Engaged parents can be found on both sides of all of the controversial parenting debates. They come from different values, traditions, and cultures. What they share in common is practicing the values. (Emphasis mine)
Guess what: In nearly every case, no parent loves her kids more or less than another. No one’s better compared to another mom, regardless of how differently they parent.
The common factor among us is that we practice our values. We believe doing certain things will yield excellent returns for our kids. And we do so because we love our kids and want the best for them.
We’re all in this together. Never mind if one homeschools and the other doesn’t. Or one started solids at four months and the other did baby-led feeding. Beyond all our values, practices and beliefs, we love our kids. We’re doing the best we know how to give them everything.
3. It won’t matter in the end
And the third problem? All the judging and bickering won’t matter in the end. Really, it won’t. I’m not there yet, but I probably won’t brag about how my kids got into college because I breastfed them for a year.
Instead, what matters? That we’re all engaged with our kids. We want the best for our kids. We care for our—and all—children’s welfare, regardless of how they’re raised.
Think about engagement when you see a parent at Target with her three-year-old at 9:30pm. Even if your child has been in bed for several hours, you and Target mom have a lot more in common than you think.
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Read more discussion about parenthood:
- Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
- Overcoming Other People’s Judgment
- Why I Didn’t Tell Another Parent He Was Being Mean to His Child
- Ask the Readers: Do You Feel like a Confident Mom?
- You’re Not Alone: 7 Supermom Things I Don’t Do Either
Your turn: Which parenting practices have you ‘switched sides’ on? How would you define an ‘engaged parent’?
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