I read this quote the other day that was more like a statement, but I loved it so much…
“There is more than one way to raise a child”.
That statement really got me thinking… We chat about this a lot now. And I can see people reading this and shaking their heads up and down- YES! Of course! Because, just think about the millions of decisions we make in one day for our kids. Of course, every parent will do things differently. We’re different people, with different lifestyles and different upbringings. Our children are different, with different personalities! Of course, there is no one way, no RIGHT way to raise our kids. The thing I wish I could follow that up with is…
“There is a WRONG way to support parents.”
I hear it all the time. Everyday. Among moms I meet online, and women I chat with socially. We feel an overwhelming amount of pressure from our families, our friends, our peers and co-workers, and even the cashier at Target. We feel these pressures and it feels a lot like judgement. It is not an invisible thing or invented by our minds. It’s real, and it comes from the mouths of the people we love.
Our family and our friends feel compelled to give advice and offer suggestions, but it can come out in the form of criticism:
“What you need to do is get the baby out of your bed.”
“Why aren’t you breastfeeding anymore?”
“What you need to do is make a bottle and let your husband help!”
“Why wouldn’t you stop him from doing that?”
“You know he that does that because you ____(fill in the blank).”
“Didn’t you see that article about __blank__, you really shouldn’t do that.”
“You know, when little Johnny was that age, I did it all by _____ (fill in the blank)”
I hear these things said EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! It’s wild to me, just how quick we are to diagnose and prescribe solutions when it comes to some else’s children.
The real truth is… those comments are not helpful. When I am faced with those comments, I feel guilt. I feel judged. In turn, I never go to those people when I need something. When I am overwhelmed or confused, or need help, they are NOT my resource.
The most supportive and helpful people in my life remind me that I’m doing great. That there isn’t always an easy answer. They remind me that that sometimes we just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The most supportive people in my life listen and love on me.
I ask those people for advice all the time. I ask them what to do when I’m overwhelmed and struggling to make a decision. I ask them what they would do in my position and I ask them for help in the moment. I don’t always make the same decision they would, although sometimes I do. The supportive people in my life love on me either way!!
I am so grateful that I have those people in my life, and I hope to be that person in other parents’ lives too! Because this motherhood game is not easy, and the decisions and pressures can feel daunting at times.
So, if you are an experienced mom, or a new mom, or just a well meaning friend… remember that sometimes what we need isn’t an answer but just a little love. We don’t need the side glances or off-hand comments. We don’t need your theory on the latest childhood research. But, we could possibly use a hand and a friendly smile.