I call myself a “new mom.” My oldest is about 1.5 years old and the youngest was born in December. I’m still new to this and have a lot to learn. I solicit advice when I need it and try to tune out the unwanted advice when I don’t want to hear it. But that gets hard, especially when those voices – combined with your committee of internal voices – tell you you’re not doing it right.
First of all, what is “it”?
A few years ago, there was a great video campaign that shared the different types of parents we find in today’s world. The video primarily focuses on the types of mothers – the working moms, “breastfeed from the source” moms, the helicopter moms – but also gives a nod to the dads who serve as primary caregivers.
The video is creative and entertaining because it so accurately points out biases and judgements from parents – “What’s it like to be a part time mom?” the stay-at-home moms say to the working moms. And they fire back, “Oh, stay-at-home moms; I wonder what they do all day?”
The quips continue about diaper preferences, bonding and baby-holding preferences and feeding preferences, until one of the strollers starts to roll down a hill. Suddenly, all judgements go out the window and everyone focuses on one goal: make sure the baby is safe.
As I mentioned, it’s an entertaining watch and, I admit, eye-opening at just how many judgements and criticisms we as parents have toward other parents (and we do this everywhere in our lives). At the end of the day, we’re all working toward the same goal: to raise strong, independent and (hopefully) well-adjusted kids who live a happy, meaningful and successful life (or as my husband says, “keep the tiny humans alive!”).
So why all the judging? Why all the comparing and critiquing?
There’s no single right way to parent, just like there is no single right way to do just about anything. Sure, there are guidelines and things you probably shouldn’t do (remember, “back is best!”), but let’s be real. We’re all working toward a common goal and there are many ways to get there.
Rather than criticize, let’s refocus and learn to praise and recognize.
Let’s cheer those parents on who tackle a feat many may feel only gods can conquer.
Let’s pat the parent on the back who looks like they need to be reminded there are going to be some tough days and tell them we’ve all been there and it will all be fine.
Let’s all remember we were “new moms” (or dads) at some point and sometimes just saying “you’re doing great” is all we want or need to hear.
No one knows what it feels like to be in the shoes of another. What we all can remember is that sometimes we should appreciate them for walking in whatever shoes they have.
Important Questions from a Coach:
- As a parent, what criticisms or judgements do you have toward other parents who may choose a different parenting style from you?
- What can you do differently to better understand why that decision works for them?
- What can you do today to stop the criticisms and judgements you have of other parents (and going larger – of other people)?