The next time you want to judge another mom, I want you to consider my story. I have an easy kid. I have three kids. The contrast between my easy child and the most challenging child is stark. Had I only given birth to children who were more compliant and easy going, this whole parenting journey would feel a lot different. I’m sure that if I had all easy children, I’d be judging other parents. After all, I had parenting all figured out until I gave birth. In contrast, if I had all difficult children I might consider that it’s all my fault and that my parenting is to blame. It can be challenging when your friends parent different than you, but something to keep in mind is that they have different kids. It is important to reserve judgment. We are not at the end of this journey yet, and we are all doing the best we can with the unique individuals that have been given to us.
I have a “creative” child. She also seeks sensory experiences. Sometimes excitement overtakes reason and impulsivity is the outcome. Throughout her lifetime we have had things ruined all over the house. Shaving cream is not meant for only shaving faces. It can be an art medium. Paper is limiting, so drawing on the bed, clothes or dresser is perfectly reasonable. Why limit fingernail polish to fingers and toes? Surely the rest of the body needs some paint. Going outside to play is very limiting if it only involves bikes and balls. Why not pull everything out of every storage boxes in the garage to set up a garage sale?
I have asked a few of my friends who I respect how they handle such behavior. Their response? My kids have just never done anything like that. They let their kids keep finger nail polish, paints and any other such supplies in the rooms because their children simply ask when they want to use those things, make a reasonable mess and put things away afterward. What a concept.
You know that Type-A, rule-following, first born children that everyone is supposed to have? I don’t have one of those. I have children who are assertive, opinionated, strong-willed and want to test the boundaries. These can be amazing qualities, but it is quite an experience raising such personalities.
One of my children has a 0-60 frustration rate that is staggering. Things will be going along just fine and then an explosion happens. She feels every emotion to the fullest. Her joy is contagious. Her anger is palpable and can dominate the mood of the home if we allow it. It’s a constant struggle not to let it commandeer the atmosphere. There are daily struggles as we learn about who she is, adapt to her specific needs and try and parent well, finding a balance between grace and discipline. We are seeking out help and resources to do the best by our child who we love dearly. If you identify with this struggle you might find help in this post: “My Child Meltdowns Over Everything.”
I have a child who is the pickiest eater I’ve seen. We have tried consequences. We sat her in the same spot until she tried a bite of chicken. After days of not moving from the spot except to go to the bathroom or to sleep at night we “won,” but it didn’t feel like a victory. Another time she went 28 hours without eating because she didn’t want to take a bite of carrot. Her strong will is made very evident in the food battles. After reading from nutritionists about how to handle picky eaters we found the leading advice is to serve what you are going to serve and not make it into a battle. If they eat, they eat. If they don’t, it’s their choice. It’s the method we follow now, but the eating hasn’t gotten any better. It hasn’t been an easy journey.
These struggles are just a few that families may face. Some would chose to judge as they watch a child who uses paint on something other than paper. They may roll their eyes at a child in a fit of rage or one who won’t eat the food that has been placed in front of them. Here are some other areas where people tend to judge.
Are there consequences in our family? Absolutely. Are we consistent? We try to be as consistent as possible. Do we verbally praise our children when self control is exhibited? Yes. We are not perfect, but we both work very hard at doing parenting well, keeping up on research and consulting mentors.
When I wrote the post, “I Lost Myself When I Became a Mom,” the FB audience was receptive. Some, however, decided to come out in full judgment. There were a few that said, “This woman obviously shouldn’t have ever become a mom.” They took a small glimpse into my parenting journey and came to a ridiculous conclusion. What was frustrating about the comments is that I was more concerned for other moms who may have found this parenting thing more challenging than they expected and feel guilty about their own journey as they travel the road of motherhood. Comments like the ones on that post make them feel worse.
The fact is that we were all given different children. If I had three of my easy child, parenting would have been blissful and really fun most of the time. I would have also been prideful, looking down on other moms, wondering why they didn’t follow simple steps that would result in happy and obedient children.
Rather, I’ve found it more refining and yet more beautiful than I expected. I have better learned the definition of true love – not always a feeling but a decision to work for the best of the other person. There have been constant needed revisions in my own life – a call to greater patience, grace, humility and self-control.
The Next Time You Want to Judge Another Mom…
It’s time to start to celebrate your mom wins, without looking down on your peers who are living a different story. You don’t know about the lives of those children and moms you see at the park. Maybe you are observing a single mom who just lost her job and that is why she seems inattentive. Perhaps that mom you see is working hard to parent a child with autism, sensory processing disorder or a learning disability. The child you are watching may be a lot more strong-willed than your own rule follower, and that mom is working hard to do the best she can to raise a strong and yet respectful child.
What good does it do to rip down other moms – whether in your mind, in person or behind the guise of Facebook? Give your help and opinions in a way that is thoughtful and welcome. You might find my conclusion of a three part series on judging helpful if you find you struggle with this topic: How to Stop Judging Other Moms.
On those hard days, when you feel like you are failing, try and remember, it’s all about the recovery. I know your story is different than mind. I absolutely believe that other people have it easier and many have it a whole lot harder. Let’s work on giving each other some true support in the area of parenting. We are unique. Our kids are individuals. Our story is still in the works. This is a process. Be good to one another.