Turns out, people have a LOT of opinions on how I raise my children. I know, I know, that’s super confusing for me too! I mean, they are MY children right? I birthed them, I paid all the hospital bills, I bathe them, I feed them, I provide them a safe place to live, I nurture them and I love them. But when it comes to how to raise them, I’m expected to look to popular opinion.
Honestly, I’m a little tired of it. And I think we all need the reminder to keep your opinion to yourself.
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“You’ve got opinions man, we’re all entitled to ’em, but I never asked. So let me thank you for your time, and try not to waste anymore of mine….Who cares, if you disagree? You are not me.” – Sara Bareilles, King of Anything
Here’s the thing. I have NEVER been good at doing what I’m told. As in, if you tell me to do something, I’m likely going to do the opposite. Yes I know, it’s a problem. God’s working on it, trust me.
This has made parenting an extremely interesting endeavor. People are constantly telling me what to do and my gut instinct is to push back against it. Relatives, friends, bloggers (ha), articles, studies, pediatricians, etc. There’s a fire hose of information and sometimes it just feels like too much.
And I understand. They all have THE BEST of intentions. Usually.
I welcome advice – when I’ve asked for it. I could write an entirely different post about how important it is to have people of all walks of life pouring into your parenting journey. I’m specifically talking about unwanted advice, or judgment for parenting differently.
You’ve posted a cute picture of your 3 year old at the park, with a pacifier in their mouth, highlighting something new they’ve accomplished. BAM, out of nowhere, someone says, “it’s time for that to go!”. Did you ask for their opinion? Maybe you’re already struggling with breaking the child of it. OR perhaps, you are parenting a foster child with a traumatic upbringing and the pacifier is their comfort. You have zero intentions of taking it away anytime soon! Celebrities aren’t immune from this frustrating parent shaming either.
Can we all not clearly see that we don’t always have the whole picture? We don’t just do this to strangers, which is cruel and unfair and we hate when strangers do it to us, we do this to OUR PEOPLE. We do this to the very people that are supposed to be a part of our “village”. Why? It’s usually one of two things.
- Judgment begets judgment. Oftentimes, we are criticizing something we actually struggle with ourselves. Think about it. What’s the one thing you’re quickest to judge in someone else? Now be honest with yourself, do you battle with the same issue?
Mine is laziness. I do not want to be perceived as lazy. Being a stay-at-home-mom has a lot of judgment automatically attached to it. You know, bon-bon eating, soap opera watching, lays in PJs all day moms. I’m petrified of being labeled one. And I’m swift to condemn it in others. It’s ugly.
- Belittling lets us feel superior. When OUR kid is behaving perfectly in the store, it’s so easy to point to the tantrum throwing child and think “that mother just doesn’t have it figure out”. If we were being honest with ourselves, we know our kid will likely be the tantrum throwing child next week (karma, man). We have the head knowledge to know it doesn’t actually make us feel superior to put another person down.
Let’s stop the madness. Can we all agree to work on that? When you find yourself about to give advice, check and see if it was asked for or not. How would you feel if it were being given to you? Will it lift the mother up? Or is it going to tear her down? Is it really any of your business? If not, maybe keep your opinion to yourself.
You’re entitled to your opinion. Despite what common culture currently dictates, you don’t have to always give it.
I like to remember classic Bambi wisdom. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”