Your opinions on my parenting shouldn’t matter, but they do...
We seem to live in this digital world where everyone is free to comment on our lives. I mean, of course they are! In many cases, we choose to share it with a public audience, which clearly invites commentary. For me, it’s generally like water off a duck’s back. I welcome a heart filled debate, where we can express our opinions but keep emotional attacks at bay.
So why do I care so much about certain opinions on my parenting? They shouldn't matter, should they? But they do. Sometimes, they really, really do. And I am not making reference to the randoms opinion somewhere out there of some person behind a keyboard. I am speaking about those people we love. We hold nearest and dearest. Yet they seem to be the ones saying the most hurtful things.
I'm talking about the unsolicited advice, that advice that starts the moment you are pregnant. You shouldn’t eat this. You can't lift that. You need to slow down. You should be doing more. When the baby comes you can’t… then bub arrives. The next wave starts. The chatter is never ending. To be honest, it's deafening. Don’t breastfeed them to sleep. You shouldn’t cuddle them so much. Put them down. They can’t possibly be hungry, you just feed them! Try a bottle, give them formula. Let them cry it out. They will sleep better if you do this. It goes on and on and on.
But the worst, it’s truly yet to come. So mumma, be ready to brace yourself and back yourself. You finally find your groove, you are rising to challenge, you think despite all those bumps in the road you are doing a good job. Because I mean, that’s all any of us want! Is to do a good job, to raise kind and caring children. Of the world and to each other. To be empathetic and understanding, conscious of our environment. Emotionally intelligent. Now your child is almost 3.
Now you are being told you aren’t firm enough, you need to have better control of them. If you can’t control them now, how will you deal with them when they are a teenager? You are being told you are too gentle. You are being told you must discipline and punish your child this way or that way. You are being told your child is manipulating you. You need to reign them in. You need to set more boundaries. They need to be taught manners. It goes on and on.
Now these comments, they don’t always come so direct. Sometimes they are passive and sometimes they aren't, but every single damn time they do, they punch you right in the heart. Those words from these people you love, they hurt. They hurt because they have been here before, it's not their first rodeo, right? Surely they have encountered your same struggles. Perhaps even the same, unnecessary and hurtful comments. Surely, just surely they can recognise you are doing the best you can.
Truth is. They don’t.
They don’t. They simply do not. Because they raised their children in a different time, with a different approach and a different way. They raised us by telling us we were children and because of that, we weren’t entitled to an opinion. Our feelings didn’t matter. Our individual rights were not respected, they were suppressed. And that’s okay, because at that time, given the research available, they truly did the best they could. But that is not the same for my child, you had your turn, and now I am doing the best I can.
We are choosing to raise our children armed with research, education and expert advice. We are fortunate enough to live in a digital age, where we have access to most recent studies, available at the strike of a key. We can listen to podcasts and reach out within online forums to seek help from those better educated than ourselves. Or simply just other parents, who can give you a listening ear. We are choosing to raise our children with respect, and understanding their individual rights as humans. Yes, it's a hard road and it's not without challenges and undesirable behaviours. But we aren't afraid of letting these little people feel their big emotions.
So mumma, can I tell you something you desperately need to hear? You got this! You absolutely have what you need to be the best mother to your children. You are doing a f***ing outstanding job and you don’t need to hear all those opinions that shouldn’t matter, but they do.