Whether you appreciate labels or loathe them, we are all thrust into some category due to our parenting style. And whether you like it or not, someone is always going to disagree with how you parent.
Sometimes (well most times) it will be your own family who disagrees with you. And if you are really lucky, the disagreement over your parenting style will begin before your child is even born.
Our Family’s Choices
A lot of the decisions our family made were the exact opposite of what my parents would decide.
I wanted our family (and close friends) to agree with me. I wanted their admiration and respect. I wanted them to be on board with what I was doing for my family.
Once I realized that it was never going to happen, I just had to stop listening to everyone and start listening to myself. It was a nightmare and very draining having to defend myself for my choices over and over.
My theory is our parents raised us and we are still alive, so they feel like they obviously must know what they are talking about. I try and tell myself mom and dad mean well, but sometimes (actually once again most times) boundaries are crossed from well meaning, to just flat out rude.
Natural Birth vs. Epidural
Case in point — I remember stating that I wanted to give birth naturally — instead of receiving support it was “well you should just get an epidural, you know you can’t handle pain.” Of course there was no harm meant by this helpful advice, but it still went against what I wanted to hear (you know the whole supporting my decisions thing). The kicker with this was right after a family friend had a natural birth and was praised, yet I was crazy. Not cool at all.
Babyproofing (or not so much)
Once my kids got older, the conversation shifted to baby proofing.
As a parent, we all want to make sure that we keep our children safe; that is first and foremost. However, I opted not to baby proof. Why? I wanted my children to feel comfortable exploring the house and it’s easier to not baby proof.
Now before you get all judgey on me, I am with my kids all day long and make sure they are safe throughout the day. But if I see baby Sarah eating a piece of grass — I am not going to freak out (and yes I realize I am opening myself up to the massive debate of right and wrong in the interwebs).
But hear me out.
The grass will eventually pass straight through her in a few diaper changes. She will be okay. I also let my two year old run around barefoot outside, and if the worst that will happen is a splinter, then so be it.
But also understand we are by no means a “whatever you want to do” household. When my older son, Andrew, goes jumping off the top of his dresser, of course I stop him. My children still wear helmets when they ride their bikes, and I am pretty good and gauging the potential dangers and risks around our home. For my parents and in-laws, the sight of this makes them cringe — which if I must say so, I am perfectly okay with that as well.
Respecting Our Parents While Respecting Ourselves
For the record, I love my parents and in-laws to pieces. I respect their opinion and we go to them for advice more than anyone else. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the purveying sense that they don’t think we take the kids safety seriously enough hurts. Perhaps because of how much I respect them and their opinion, while also wishing they see that we are not lazy or naïve. We just see the risks differently than they do.
Because we have decided not to always rescue the kids and to let them fall or fail at things, it may come off to the grandparents as being irresponsible. But I can speak from my own experience, that it has actually made my children better. They learn from their mistakes without mom or dad always helping them. But of course if you ask grandma, she will say the opposite.
We frequently let our toddler participate in cooking dinner; whether it is something as simple as putting the bread onto a pan or pouring the milk, we feel that it is important early on to help instill some type of work ethic about the importance of contributing to family. What do the grandparents see? A big mess waiting to happen. More often that not, some type of mess occurs, but it’s never as bad as it seems.
Lastly, if you know our family pretty well you will usually see my two year old daughter and three year old niece dressed as some sort of princess. My sister and I take no issue with letting them wear their princess garb everywhere they go (it beats being naked, which is another phase my little one is in), but the grandparents see it differently. “Why doesn’t she have clothes on” or “That’s not appropriate to wear at the dinner table.” With things like this I have learned to pick and choose my battles. Am I really up for letting my child feel that I don’t trust her to make choices? Or even worse, do I really want to say her as a parent “I don’t like how you look, go change your clothes?” Not at two and three years old I don’t.
Sometimes you have to go with what you as a parent feels is right, aside from your parents and other elders think. I have definitely come to realize that Will Smith is right. Sometimes parent’s just don’t understand.
Do your parents have a different parenting style? How did you handle it? Tell us about it!