As a mom of three, I’ve finally become confident in my parenting decisions. I’ve always felt like I’ve done what’s best for my kids. But there was a time when even though I knew I made the right choice, I still worried about what others would think.
It’s easy to judge other parents. You see them at the park, at the grocery store, at a restaurant with their children. You get access to a tiny portion of their day and immediately feel like you know their whole story.
I was in the grocery store over the weekend with my youngest son, Macks, who is just barely one year old. Nowadays, leaving the house with just one kid can feel like a vacation. We were left with very little food at home, so I knew that this was going to be a big trip that would take at least an hour.
Having done this a thousand times, I came well prepared with snacks and toys. He had just woken up from a nap, so he was in the best mood that he could be in. But despite all of that, the grocery trip started to be a little bit more than he could handle. Towards the end, Macks started to get fussy and was nearing a meltdown. After several failed attempts to give him food, toys, and distract him the best I could, I reached into my pocket and found a credit card. I gave it to him in an attempt to keep him busy for five more minutes so I could make it through the check-out line.
Within seconds of him having the card in his hand, an employee came up to me to tell me how he shouldn’t have that and how he shouldn’t put it in his mouth. I started laughing and told him that if he had been there 30 seconds earlier he wouldn’t have been saying that. I politely nodded my head and gave a “thanks but no thanks” spiel. But that wasn’t good enough for him. Apparently he was really worried about Macks’ wellbeing, because he pressed on. He went on and on telling me what Macks should and shouldn’t be doing. Finally, I told him that I just needed five more minutes to make it out of the store. He left me with a judgy look and went on his way.
In the course of my nearly six years as a parent, I’ve come across a lot of people that have told me what I’m doing wrong. In fact, I’ve come across a lot more people that tell me what I’m doing wrong rather than what I’m doing right. Every day I’m met with far more put-downs than praises. Can’t we finally come to terms with the fact that most of the parents in the world are truly doing what they believe is best for their kids and stop telling them otherwise?
While the comments used to leave me running away in tears, they now have no effect on me. Which tells you how often people love giving me their unsolicited advice. I know I’m doing a great job with my kids, they prove that to me everyday. But that’s just it, they are kids. And we are parents. Parents that are capable of making the best decisions for their children. Parents that will sometimes make the wrong choice, but will use it as a learning experience. Parents that don’t need anyone else telling them what they are doing wrong, but instead, more people telling them what they’re doing right.
So next time you see that frazzled mom in the grocery store, desperately trying to entertain her baby before he launches into a full-fledged meltdown, remember you are only seeing a portion of their story. So let’s leave the judgement and unsolicited advice behind and let the praise pave the way instead.