Thursday, March 1, 2012

Be Gentle

What a blessing it is to be a parent. I now know first hand what rewards lie with the position, and I am becoming increasingly more familiar with the difficulties.  I think everyone struggles with different hardships, but I'll be transparent today and let you know one of the things with which I struggle most. Judgement.  I am fully aware that I do not battle this alone. It plagues a lot of moms. I would dare to say most moms. Sometimes we make up in our heads judgement from others because of our own insecurities, and at other times, it's very real.

It's as if the second you find out you are becoming a parent, you adorn yourself with a sign which hangs directly over your head that reads, "Please judge me." Yes. Please judge me for how much weight I gain during pregnancy and how I choose to labor. Please judge my intelligence for staying home and/or my lack of commitment to my child for working. Please judge me for the method in which I choose to nourish my newborn, and how I diaper my baby.  And that's just a few issues linked with the birth of your child. Later, there's the homeschooling versus private and public issue and how to deal with behavioral problems. Not to mention the lovely vaccination opinions. Those seem to be thrown out in every direction. The list could go on for years. I'm okay with judgment in general because it's natural to have an opinion and think yours is best. I'm totally guilty. However, I hope I'm never guilty of making other people feel bad for doing something different than what I feel is best. If I have, I'm sorry.

Why this post? Well, I've had lots of conversations lately with moms who feel like everything they do is under the scrutiny of others. And it's hard to swallow. Yes, the root is pride, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with. I tell myself all the time that it doesn't matter what others think of my parenting or decisions, but the truth is, I care. Some personalities just care. I've gotten better over the years to not let it effect me as much, though. I feel like that's where my improvement has been made. I don't think I'll ever not care, but I find it freeing to know that I am now making decisions based on what David and I feel is right and not based on pressure from outside sources. I still feel it, but I don't allow disapproving judgement to entwine itself into my decision making process anymore.

I guess my real reason for writing this post is to say I think we mothers need to help each other out. Be conscientious of how you state your opinions. It's okay to give them and to have them. Even strong ones. However, if you are going to talk about your opinions, which I think can be invaluable to others, just be careful how you do it.  For example, when you talk about the benefits of breastfeeding, please don't make it out like those who choose to bottle feed care less about their children. Or, if you are adamant about private schooling, don't make it like those who chose to allow their children to use the public school setting are handing them over to the wolves. Furthermore, just because you don't want to home school your children doesn't conclude another mother's choice to do so means they want to produce weird, unsocialized little people. These examples are not my opinions. I'm just giving scenarios of opinions I've witnessed. 

It's so funny for me to talk with my husband about my issues with judgement. He truly could care less what others think in most cases. I find that quality about him so attractive. I wish I wasn't plagued the way I am. So, if you read this and you're thinking, I don't give a rip when another mom talks about how brave they were to have birthed their child without drugs, consider yourself blessed. I had to fight inferiority complexes because I had a c-section and was straight up numb from a very needed epidural. I had to work through major issues when the truth is, it takes insane amounts of bravery to bring a child into the world by any method.

Again, I'm not saying keep your opinions to yourself. I'm also not saying it's wrong to disagree with another parent. I'm simply saying it's hard enough to make decisions as parents without feeling disapproval and judgement from others. So, please be mindful of how you place your opinions out there for others to read or hear. Let's build each other up and encourage one another instead of ridiculing and judging aloud. Let's be confident each in our own opinions and decisions that we don't need to defend them to the world in a way that would discourage another parent. Have your opinions, but please, 

be gentle.

A moment of gentleness from my two crazy hoodlums.


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. While I am obviously not a parent, I distinctly remember the flack my mother got for sending me to Stonewall for middle school as opposed to a "better" school, which is obviously ridiculous. Keep it up!:)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Dear Steff, I loved reading your post. I felt the same way nearly 39 years ago. I was trying to please everyone, listening to other young mom's, doctors, friends, reading all kinds of baby books,and especially try to please
my mom and my mother-in-law. I did the best I could. Some time being a mom is a thankless job. It is a job I sometimes loved and disliked. We had many hard years and more happy years. The best satisfaction is seeing my adult children being good parents and how they love their children. They make me proud.

The Ness Story said...

yes yes yes. thank you

Anonymous said...

Well said from a Mom who use to take everything people said to heart.....but you know...we do the best we can with God's help. You are a great Mom Steff! I know, I've seen you in action. Love you!

DavidandSteff said...

Thanks to all of you for the comments and encouragement!

We Don't Eat Bugs said...

Yay for this post! I second all of it. I try my darndest to only give my opinion when asked- I'm sure I have failed, but I hate to feel judged and don't want to do it to someone else.

I hope I have never made you feel judged by me- you are an excellent mom. Great post.

Heidi said...

So true. I do my best to make moms around me feel encouraged whether I completely agree with their methods or not. I don't ever want to make someone feel like some people have made me feel these past 2 years.