I’ve noticed something about motherhood – the ‘hot button’ issues – they heat up quickly and seemingly divide what could be such a wonderful, “whole” community of women. My first glimpses of this happened when my firstborn was just a baby. I was literally just trying to survive each day when all of a sudden I found myself wondering if I should be baby wearing, questioning vaccines, using alternative medicine, buying organic cotton clothes – you name it. I didn’t know any of this was a “thing” until I was right in the thick of it. When I was pregnant, I guess I focused only on what I needed to know about pregnancy and childbirth – which was so much already. I think I just figured my instincts would kick in once my daughter was born?
Instead I was hit with this new world I knew nothing about. And honestly, looking back, I wish I had blocked out a lot more of the noise and just subscribed to my planned “learn as I go” theory. Isn’t becoming a first-time parent hard enough with all the voices in our own heads? But when you add to it about a zillion other voices – it just becomes overwhelming and exhausting.
And this information overload did not ease up – if anything, things have gotten progressively worse over the years. The issues parents compare with one another – it’s just crazy! From the foods you give your children to various forms of discipline – again, there are other worlds out there that I really don’t think our parents’ generation had to contend with.
On the subject of discipline, there is a big ‘gentle parenting’ or ‘positive parenting’ movement going on right now, and I really wanted to love it, I did. There is so much to learn in many of those teachings, but I firmly believe children need straight-forward boundaries and then consequences as a result.
But when you read passionately-written, persuasive articles about letting kids work conflict out themselves, it does make sense in theory and make you think twice. Kids will figure it out at some point. Right? But aren’t we as parents also responsible for instilling kindness and teaching basic manners to our children? Something in my spirit just doesn’t rest well with letting my child rip a toy from another child’s hands and doing/saying nothing about it. (When they’re babies, this is a different story, of course.) Or giving no consequences when my child hurts another child physically. When I was a child, these actions were punishable and I don’t feel things should be any different today. This is how we learn to be responsible for our own actions.
But I digress.
Parenting comparisons come in many shapes and sizes and do not discriminate. Now, at my daughter’s age, it’s what type of school you’re putting your child in (there’s a type? Again, I never knew), whether you’re holding them back another year, and how many sports or activities they’re in.
I feel like I can’t keep up. But then, I knew that from the beginning. It’s all too much for me. I think my kids will turn out just fine with ‘regular’ discipline, ‘normal’ school like I attended, and teaching them to be kind to others.
As I’ve said before, parenting is similar to playing at a park playground – we are all on different equipment trying it out. No one is ahead of anyone. So let’s sit back, let our kids play on what they choose, and celebrate their (and our) differences.