Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Judgemental Parenting

When you were pregnant I imagine, like myself you thought it was going to be your turn in this world to enjoy the journey of parenting the little person inside you, how you and your partner/husband saw fit. Why is it then that some friends, family or other parents can be incredibly judgemental of others who choose parenting styles dissimilar to their own style? For those of you who have never heard the term before, a pushy parent who disagrees with your parenting style is actually defined as a "sanctimommy". Unfortunately, we come across these parents in our day-to-day dealings as we travel this journey of parenting.

I was of the school of thought that parents do what is instinctively natural and right for them and their child and that people respected others decisions and choices on how to parent. Although relatively new to this role called "parenting" I am quickly realising that there have always been – and will be – those who blatantly criticize others.

The very obvious rolling of the eyes (and maybe even a heavy sigh) when you say you plan to breastfeed your child beyond a year/or did breastfeed beyond a year.

The blatant sneering when someone sees your child still sucking their thumb at five years old.

The look of horror when you reach for the regular — not organic — milk on the grocery shelf.

The look of shock – terror, really – when you disclose that you sometimes let your child sleep in your bed with you/or that they do sleep in your bed.

I have learnt that whilst others can be so quick to judge your parenting style, it is often their own personal parenting style that they are questioning. Many of us parent as we were parented, parent with the intent to differ from our own up-bringing, or parent with our own individual style. However we choose to parent, ultimately the choice is ours. Below I have a few tips that might just come in handy next time you come across a judgemental friend, parent or family member:

  • Don’t take it personally. Some people feel there’s only one way to parent: their way. Learn to ignore negative comments and realize that everyone is simply different.

  • Don’t be intimidated. Speak up for yourself. Describe the positive results your parenting style has produced. Disagreeing with parents who criticize your parenting ways is really ok.

  • Be cordial. Even politely thank the person for offering their suggestions. But don’t apologize for your methods just because someone else thinks theirs is better. If it’s working for you and your family, stick to it.

  • Be open-minded. Never discount another point of view just because it is different. Listen to what they have to say. If your method isn’t quite working for you and theirs makes sense, at least consider it.

  • Join a parent group that shares your views. The support you get will be liberating.

  • Choose your friends carefully that you spend time with. Friend's who are negative about your style of parenting are going to tire you out and bring down your confidence.

In learning how to deal with pushy parents, you are actually learning how to stand up for what you think is best for your child. In other words, sanctimommies beware!

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