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Religion, Politics and… Parenting? Keeping the Peace by Avoiding the Topic

When it comes to parenting, my older sister and I could not be more different. I would describe her parenting style as bordering on free range. Her three boys, ages 4, 5, and 6, are allowed to ride not only their bicycles, but their four-wheeler and dirt bike, up and down the street their house is on while mine are sequestered to the driveway when not accompanied by an adult.

When playing outside, she doesn’t give a second thought to stepping in the house and leaving them unattended for a bathroom break, while I would sooner have my bladder burst than take my eyes off my children while there is the potential for them to wander off or into the path of a car.

Perhaps the difference in the way that we mother comes from the difference in the culture in which we were raised. She spent most of her childhood in Europe while I was here in America and I am certain this has shaped our behavior whether we realize it or not.

For the most part, my sister and I respect each other’s choices even though they may not be the ones we would make for our own children. But, on occasion, one of us will insert our opinion where it doesn’t belong and hurt feelings are the result.

Case in point, this weekend over dinner while I was lamenting our recent lack of sleep my sister stopped me mid-sentence to let me know that I was traumatizing my daughter. She was alarmed to learn that until a few weeks ago my 3-year-old was locked in her bedroom at night through the use of a child safety knob on her door.

In my mind, keeping my toddler from leaving her room in the middle of the night was preventing her from a tumble down the stairs or from getting into something dangerous while my husband and I slept unaware. To my sister, whose children have always been allowed to climb up and down the stairs from their room to hers in the dark of night, the fact that I locked my daughter in her room seemed emotionally damaging.

I quickly reminded her that she was not the authority on perfect parenting and we both left that afternoon with our hackles up.

Much like those on opposite ends of the political or religious spectrum, my sister and I must stay away from talking parenting in order to maintain a healthy relationship.

Anyone else’s have a parenting philosophy that is at odds with that of a loved one? How do you handle it?

Photo credit: iStock

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