Parenting performance is always a topic that ends up making headlines. Are you too clingy? Too distant? Too risky? Too risk-averse? Regardless of what you seem to do well or where you feel like you run into challenges, someone is quick to have a name for it, and quick to comment.
But do you notice how those with comments, who are quick to define what they see, often don’t provide any actionable guidance? Any productive feedback? It’s always little quips about what you’re doing wrong.
Let’s look at a recent example: Shawn Johnson was mom-shamed for flipping her 3-month old daughter.
I admit when I saw that headline (“Shawn Johnson defends her 3-month-old daughter’s first flip”), my stomach dropped a little. After all, what does a doing a flip mean for a 3-month old? But I read the article and I watched the video – and here’s the important part – before I formed an opinion.
We’ve gotten away from the importance of being informed before we decide to share our thoughts, especially when it comes to parenting. We are quick to react and tell you why something is wrong without any guidance on how to make things better. We’re quick to point out when someone messed up. We’re quick to throw our hands in the air and admit defeat when things challenge us and push us past our comfort zone.
Though this applies everywhere, I feel it’s even more present in parenting. Everyone is quick to tell you what you’re doing wrong or what you should be doing instead. Why is it that we have to constantly weigh in on what others do? Why is it we always think we know better?
This is unproductive.
At the end of the day, we are each just doing our best to figure out, with our unique personalities, interests and abilities, how to live our lives in this crazy world while being tasked with raising little humans to help guide them to find their way, as well.
It’s hard. It can be exhausting. It can be rewarding. It can make you feel 100 different emotions at the same time. Who would have thought “happy tears” come so freely?
But we’re all there together. It doesn’t matter how others may identify you – a helicopter parent, a bulldozer parent, the fairy tale parent – they are just titles that help box you up into a tidy category for people to judge.
In fact, a term I hadn’t heard of before – “puddle parent” – recently came across my desk. A puddle parent is described as letting “their kids veer off the regular, prescribed path and forge their own way.” Why does this have to be defined? Why can’t this just be parenting? Our role as parents is to help our kids discover who they are, understand their world and find their place in it. Each kid is and will be different. There is not one “right” way to make this happen, but if we are responsive, supportive and encouraging of both our kids and of the parents who show up in whatever way that is with their kids, imagine what we could create.
So, before you share your thoughts on what’s wrong, take a minute to remember we’re all doing the best we can. What works for you might not work for others. What works for someone else might not make sense for you.
Before we can raise our kids to be happy and responsible humans, we have to be that first.
Take a minute to check in on how you judge yourself and others. Consider how you could instead assess your parenting and be sure it is helping your kids find their way in their way. And as you look at other parents, find greater patience and less judgment knowing that they are trying to figure out how to help each of their kids find their way. Patience and support is what we all need.
Consider reading I Don’t Believe in an Identity Crisis