Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bigger Picture Moment: Respect the Mama

Bigger Picture Moment

In the sixteen short months of my Tot's life, I have received a lot of feedback. From well-meaning moms, family members, friends, the Husband, but mostly from my mother and mother-in-law. My own mother is very expressive and has no problem at all with telling me when she thinks I should be handling the Tot differently. My mother-in-law is the opposite and often will not come right out and say that she disagrees as much as quietly offer a differing opinion.

Unfortunately, her opinion differs not only from my own but also from that of my sister-in-law and her own parenting methods with her two girls. One of whom is currently on her way here for a visit in the company of her grandparents. While I am excited for the visit, the possibility for conflicts between my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law over how my niece should be cared for is giving me a fair amount of anxiety. Don't get me wrong, my sister-in-law and I are not always on the same page as parents either. In fact, I am very embarrassed to admit that before I was a parent myself, I frequently engaged in my own critique to my husband of how we would and would NOT be doing things when we had children of our own based on what we witnessed during family gatherings. You know, because we were young newlyweds with nary a child to speak of, so of course we knew so much better than the actual parents.

But when the Tot was new and not so much a Tot as a squalling, red-faced bundle, I was eager to accept most of the feedback that was offered to me. I knew that I had no clue what I was doing and if these other, well meaning ladies did, well, then I should humbly learn from their more experienced ways, right? But as the Tot grew larger, so did my own confidence as a parent. Conversely, my desire for feedback and my ability to receive it graciously began to shrink.

Everyone has a different way to parent. Some differences are huge and more to do with a general parenting philosophy such as attachment parenting or styles of discipline. Other differences are minute such as whether to nurse in public or whether to feed your child organic food. But, as it turns out, there is no one right way to rear a child. In fact there are hundreds or thousands of ways to parent and no one way is necessarily better or worse in the grand scheme. But, that doesn't stop us from telling each other how to do it better. Or shaking our heads in that knowing, judgmental fashion when we see a parent diverting from what we would do.

The reality is that what one family may do with their children or in their home, may not work for our family or the way we want to raise our children. It may seem ill-advised or even ludicrous to us in many instances. But as a parent myself, I am fully aware that I have some a lot of specific wishes for how I want my own child to be cared for in my absence. Which is why my niece will be eating a fruit and/or vegetable with every meal, will not be watching any shows that her mother is not in favor of, and will not be getting tons of sugary snacks or extravagant gifts. At least not from me. Because whether you agree with it or not, whether it is what you would do or not, the bottom line is: You've got to respect the mama!

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  1. Amen to that!!!
    Respecting parents wishes for their children is so important, but something that I think older generations often have difficulty with... for either forgetting what it was like raising a child, or just in that things were so different "back in the day"
    Loved this post! Thank you for linking up :)

  2. this is a tough one. i disagree with my parents on a lot of parenting issues. rather than argue with them on every point, i make a few non negogiable rules....and then we just grandma detox when we get home :)