Why do you care how we parent?

February 21, 2011

Of all the things that irk me as a mother, the one that stands out the most is when someone gets offended at the way a child is being raised.

I read this post the other day that described this woman’s parenting style, which I gathered as very AP(attachment parenting), laid back, and child focused. Some things I read I didn’t agree with, some I did. But I thought it was well written albeit a tad over glamorized, an interesting perspective, and it taught me about another point of view in the world of parenting.

And then came the comments. Judgemental and ugly. They accused her of thinking she was better than them, that her style of parenting was being glorified (which automatically meant theirs was vilified, of course). It was a shame to read, because she clearly stated it was simply her raising her child the best way she knew and believed.

I see this all.the.time. No matter how you raise your kids, someone is going to attack you if you seem to veer too far from what they deem as “acceptable.” That word seems to have different meanings depending on the person using it.

But here’s the thing. No matter what you think is acceptable, no matter how much you believe something to be true:

IT MAY NOT WORK FOR SOMEONE ELSE.

Really.

You might think co-sleeping with your child is a way they will grow up secure, and it’s your right to think that. You might believe that your child deserves to have ice cream or fast food for a special treat. Your family may feel that you working provides your child with interaction and stimulation at a daycare she wouldn’t get at home. You may feel that it is essential for you to be at home with your child since you chose to have them.

And whatever you believe? Whatever you hold dear? That’s wonderful. It’s part of who you are, what you stand for, what your child will remember about you. “My mom worked so hard so we could have the things we needed in life.” “One of my favorite memories is waking up next to mom and dad.” “I’m so outgoing because I was in a fantastic daycare.”

So don’t ruin the uniqueness of your family by pushing it off on others. When you read something that you take offense to, think it over. Why is it so upsetting? So they’re different from you, from the way you do things, why does that matter?

You’re not raising their kid. You have no idea why they are making the decisions they do – not really. You might have a glimpse, but there is usually much more than what meets the eye.

  • If their child isn’t being abused, neglected, or in danger.
  • If the family style is simply different.
  • If it has nothing to do with you.
  • If they are happy, doing their best, and just trying to stay afloat as parents.

Then leave it alone. Don’t judge, don’t mock, don’t get involved in a negative way.

Be proud of what you stand for as a family, no matter how different it is. And let someone else feel that way too.

23 Comments

  • alison

    February 23, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Delightful. I feel I may judge everyone, at all times because I’m Not a parent 🙂 just kidding. I can’t even imagine why people care how other raise their children. Stop worrying about others and take care of your own. I feel like you are the oprah of blogging. Love it

  • branson

    February 23, 2011 at 1:23 am

    This is an excellent post! Nuff said… 😉

  • LA@TheReelFamily

    February 22, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    AMEN Momma!!! I love this and couldn’t agree more. I hate the judgement that occurs in parenting. Unless you are endangering your child its your choice and you got to do what you think is best. I love this! love!

  • Jen

    February 22, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I am so judgey, all I need is a robe sometimes to complete the “role.” But the difference is, I’m judgey in my head. Because if I really said everything I thought, I would be a sad and lonely person. And afer I give it a little thought, I realize just how douchey I can be…in my OWN head!! So, I love this post, you are awesome-sauce!!

  • Heather D

    February 22, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I hate having to defend the way i parent my child. I’m the mom (DH is the dad) and we know what is best for our son. I have no right to judge the way someone else raises their children.
    Everyone’s an expert because of some book they read. Only i’m an expert at raising MY child.

  • Judy @OurMomSpot

    February 22, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    I think people tend to judge other people’s choices & actions because they may not be comfortable / confident with their own.

    I think that this definitely applies to the judgmentalism we see with parenting.

  • Jess@Straight Talk

    February 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    People seriously love to make others feel bad. They really should just take in different opinions without judging. Amen sista.

  • Mom on a Line

    February 22, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I just found your blog today and have to say, thank you for this post. I love it! I also love reading what other parents are doing, even if it is not a choice I would make. It helps me learn new things and hopefully become a better parent.

  • Beckytwogirls

    February 22, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Totally agree. Plus, it’s a blog. If you don’t like it, move on! If the writer cared half an ounce of what the crabby poster had to say, they wouldn’t have published it. There are bigger fish to fry than be all whipped up about what someone else is doing.

  • Amy

    February 22, 2011 at 8:45 am

    I see this all the time myself and it baffles me. I think to myself, aren’t we all constantly questioning ourselves enough about our parental choices?

    Do I NEED some who has no idea of my daily parental struggles tell me why I am going to be the downfall of my child’s future? No, what I NEED is what everyone needs. Someone to say, “Hey, not my bag, but as Dory the fish says, ‘just keep swimming’. You’ll do fine and your child will be fine.”

    But unfortunately, too many people think that to support someone else that has a different view is a direct blow to their own view. We need to support each other and learn from each others successes and mistakes. You can’t do that if your first look at a situation is on the defensive.

  • Cole

    February 22, 2011 at 8:22 am

    AMEN. Mommy used to teach 5th, and, inevitably, if she called on someone who gave the correct response, someone would yell out “that was MY answer” – drove Mommy crazy. First of all, if it was something like an equation with one right answer, than it wasn’t “your” answer at all; people have been concluding that 2+2=4 for hundreds of years. Secondly, just because someone else is right does not make you less so – some people feel stronger for tearing others down. It’s a shame that some of us can’t move past 5th grade.

  • Kristin

    February 22, 2011 at 8:08 am

    I agree with you 100%. I blogged about this topic a while back. It’s something I will never understand about people.

    Here’s my post on the subject: http://amothersworkisneverdone.com/2010/03/im-not-a-judgy-mcjudgerson/

  • kim

    February 22, 2011 at 7:59 am

    I think one of the reasons ‘we’ are so judgey is because up until just a few years ago (I think) people just parented and didn’t really have a ‘name’ for what style they were doing. At least I didn’t. So now they think they are being pigeon holed into one style or another when really, like everything else, it’s just a jumble of different things that work for you and your child. Plus, doesn’t it seem like people so offended anymore? I don’t work outside the home, but that doesn’t mean I’m ‘offended’ if you do. So why would another mom be ‘offended’ if I chose to practice extended breast feeding? Weird. This post was great- so well written! (p.s I did get WAY caught up in ‘Blossom’ saying her son didn’t roll over unassisted until 1. OMG. I about jumped thru the computer!!)

  • Law Momma

    February 22, 2011 at 7:50 am

    I agree but also I think what happens is that we read about how someone else parents and we think “Man. I should be doing that. I totally suck” and then our knee jerk reaction is to say “No YOU suck” because we don’t want to be the sucky parent.

    I mean, I know that I would rather be at home with my kid than at work, but I have to work. So when I read an article about how awesome it is to be home with kids, I get all prickly and angry. Let me clarify that I don’t get angry at the person writing the article… I get angry that I can’t be that person. I get angry with myself. So my natural reaction is to discount what they say in order to feel better about what I have to do as a parent.

    Does that make sense? Because ultimately I agree with you that we are all doing the best we can… I just think we carry around so much guilt that we have to unload some on other people sometimes. 🙂

  • Blair@HeirtoBlair

    February 22, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Here’s the thing that digs into me – society wants to celebrate different as long as it’s not parenting.

  • the grumbles

    February 22, 2011 at 7:40 am

    yep yep yep. it’s hard to explain to people that just because we’ve chosen to do things outside the “norm” with cosleeping, extended breastfeeding, etc, that i’m not judging them. i think that my friends are GREAT parents, even though they do it differently. it’s ok for all of us to be different.

    as Krista said, i think a lot of the defensiveness springs from areas where we aren’t 100% confident in ourselves already and then we feel like we have to defend our choices– from others and to ourselves. regardless of why it happens there sure are a lot of insecure people out there who get all uptight about “the right way.”

  • Summer Davis

    February 22, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Bra-VO! It’s so true. I’d like to add that we also need to not be so hard on ourselves for not being able to parent our children the way that we WANTED to. Each child is different and requires a whole new set of rules from the previous child. I wanted to co-sleep with my daughter but after 6 months old, all she wanted to do all night was nurse. Literally. If I took my boob out of her mouth, she freaked out. I wasn’t sleeping, she wasn’t sleeping, and her daddy wasn’t sleeping. After about a month of NO rest, we put her in her crib. We’ve all been MUCH, MUCH happier since then. I was disappointed but it’s what she needed, and it was what we needed.

    Well said.

  • Krista

    February 22, 2011 at 5:33 am

    You know? I agree with this, I really really do. But I also think that we have to own our decisions. I don’t judge other parents because frankly, I don’t care what they do. And if they’re judging me, well that’s too damn bad because I know I’m doing the best I can.

    Most of the time. I find that I start getting worked up about what someone else does when I’m not sure I’m making the best decision. Case in point, I’ve been really worried about what “people” will think about me having a scheduled c-section. I know that’s stupid. I know that the alternative could be taking a risk that Craig raises two kids alone. But still, I’m not entirely comfortable with the decision, so I find myself reading blogs about natural childbirth, and VBACs and wondering what those people would think. I’m putting my insecurities on them.

    So, I guess this is a long comment to say that yes, we have to stop judging each other, but also, we have to stop caring about the judging and just do what we do. Trust ourselves. Let the rest go.

    1. Beckytwogirls

      February 22, 2011 at 11:44 am

      Geez, don’t be nervous about the c-section. I had 3. I don’t have one ounce of shame, embarrassment or regret. It is what it is. I don’t understand the war behind that either. Good luck!

  • Babes about Town

    February 22, 2011 at 4:25 am

    What an excellent post, I really couldn’t agree more. One of the things that drives me nuts is that judgmental aspect of parenting. It seems to come from so many angles, and really the bottom line is that kids are adaptable and as long as you’re loving them right – a lot of the stuff/politics we worry about goes over their heads.

    Knowing how hard it can be just to parent, I do my best not to point fingers at other mamas. Apart from maybe Octomom, who baffles me 😉

  • Dallas

    February 21, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. Drives me insane!! We really need to embrace our differences, and accept that our way may not be the only way! Thanks for this!

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  • Alexia

    February 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! Mothers are all on the same team. Just doing what they think is right for their own children. We need to stop judging one another and accept that each family, each parenting style, each relationship is different and deserves respect. Glad you have spoken up about this.

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