Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Putting "The Mommy Wars" to Bed: Chapter 5

Onward! Parenting Styles

This one is super easy.  
If the child is yours and in your custody, you get to have a say in parenting within the constraints of the law and the perceived well being of the child by your community. We must all know that people are watching, all the time.  People have cameras and video on their phones, and they are watching, all the time. People can hear you, see you, and report you, all the time.  I would advise you to choose a parenting style that will not be in conflict with the law, even if it differs from what you were raised with.  Aside from the general well being of the child, we all need to cool it about other peoples parenting styles. If someone else's child is: being abused, harming you or your child in some actual way, or in clear danger, OBVIOUSLY it is our responsibility as members of that child's community to engage. For today, I'm really just talking about those moments in which you just don't agree philosophically with a persons parenting style. It's not your place to A. Approach them and tell them about it. B. Smear them over social media C. Gossip about them D. Assume that you know what's best for them or their children. If the child appears to be healthy, loved, and safe, which will be true a VAST majority of the time, that's is where the conversation ends unless someone has asked you for your opinion or advice.  Unless there is something GLARINGLY wrong, we need to give each other the benefit of the doubt more often.  Self righteousness is such an ugly way to be.  None of us is perfect and we all make mistakes.  I can think of a number of times I could easily have been accused of bad parenting while raising my kids, especially if judgements are made just by a snapshot of my parenting. One giant meltdown at Target comes to mind.  I was just doing my best and was pushed beyond my ability to cope that day, that instant. I have never hit or harmed my children, but at a glance, my parenting in that moment might have made a few bystanders jump to the wrong conclusion about me. I could blame it on any number of things, Post-Partum Mood Disorder being at the top of that list, but looking back I'm really glad I didn't live in the age of such swift and public judgement. Instead of camera's and video recorders, I was met by the tender, knowing, slightly amused, looks from some elder women. It made me feel better about the situation and helped me to get myself together. Let's get back to that. Make no mistake about it, if you have an older child than the one your are concerning yourself with, even if only by a few days/weeks/months, you are an elder. Be tender. Your kind eyes will reassure and support her, helping her to better deal with the situation at hand.  

There are about a billion books and beliefs out there about how to raise a child. None of these books was written specifically about any individual child, and beliefs are just thoughts that we think over and over again, that doesn't necessarily make them true.  No particular style is likely to be a perfect fit for any family or for every child in a family. Many people latch onto a particular philosophy or doctrine because it gives them some peace of mind or a sense of security. Sometimes it's an integral part of their social group, religious community, or family/cultural history. Some are drawn to the simplicity of a checklist to follow.  Many people begin with a clear philosophy, and then realize over time that while it may be all well and good, it just doesn't have the intended impact.  Some may reject parenting philosophies outright, because they just love their kid and trust their instincts and intuitions, they may pick up a book or two if they realize that they don't always know what their children need, certain circumstances may require more structure. The reality is that while we all may falter here and there, most of the parents you will encounter out there are doing the very best with what they were given, generally well-meaning and loving, they want to be good parents for their child. They are drawing from their own experiences and from those around them, they are not perfect and have moments of weakness. When considering someone else's parenting successes or failures, keep in mind the story of living in a glass house and throwing stones, also remember that Karma is a bitch, and that bitch has a wicked sense of humor! 

By being more openminded, and allowing ourselves to learn from each other, we are all more likely to learn from one another, while simultaneously gaining acceptance for those who have different stories than we do.  I think we would be hard pressed to NOT learn something of value from virtually every parent out there.  We all have some trick or tool or idea that someone else may benefit from. 

Here's a link to my new favorite parenting style...it takes work and I'm still trying to perfect it, but the concept could be applied many of life's challenges, including how we all react to other parents out there who's style may be different than ours.  http://www.thedaddycomplex.com/post/55268573331/latest-parenting-trend-the-ctfd-method

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