By Carol Rood
As we get closer to summertime, I am seeing more posts on social media and blog posts about what to do with the kids over the summer. Some parents put them in day camp, some parents leave them home, some parents have friends watch them, some parents have no idea what to do…..
And, unfortunately, when I hear parents talk about what they are doing with their kids, be it allowing them to watch certain tv shows, read certain books, watch certain movies, I also see something else happening: Judgement from other parents….. and then I see the parents who are being judged do one of two things…..either they just keep talking, like they didn’t notice the judgement, or they apologize, and start explaining why they made that decision as a parent.
As if they somehow feel the need to apologize for making a decision they feel is best for their own kids. Concerned about being judged by other parents as “too conservative” or “holding them back””, or “hiding your head in the sand”. Then there is the other side of the coin. They might be judged for being “too permissive”, or “too liberal”. so the parents feel they have to explain why they DID allow their children to read a book, see a movie, go to an event, start dating, wear makeup, etc etc etc…the list is endless……
They worry about judgement for seeming too “permissive” or not caring about the scars their kids might get from the message of the books or the violence. Or the worry about seeming too conservative” and sheltering their child(ren) from the “harsh reality” of life.
I have a difficult time with both of these points of view. Not because I think there is a correct age or time for a child to see a particular kind of movie or read a particular book, or date, or wear makeup, etc etc etc. The problem I have with those two trains of thought is why the parents even feel the need to explain their decisions to every one else.
I feel bad for the parents who feel they need to justify and explain their actions to others. Maybe they are new parents, maybe they are first time parents, maybe they are just insecure….there could be a million reasons why they are unsure of their parenting decisions. Parenting is hard! There is no manual, and most of the time we are just flying by the seat of our pants, having no clue what we are doing.
I will say that I have made many bad parenting decisions, and I have also made many great decisions. I have learned from the bad ones and the good ones. Parenting is full of mistakes and learning curves. There is no manual that a person gets to help them when they become a parent, and even if you did get a manual with your first child, you would need to toss it in the trash when the second child comes, and the third, fourth, etc etc…. Each child is unique and what works for one child won’t work for another child.
For example, our oldest, (my stepdaughter, Katarina) doesn’t even acknowledge me as a parent, and refuses to even speak to me, so while that is an incredibly difficult situation it doesn’t take me off the proverbial “parenting hook”. Her mom is my partner, and we make decisions together….but my stepdaughter doesn’t accept my decisions….it is complicated…. The three boys are completely different though. Karol and I parent them together, and they understand that we decide together and lets be real here…. Karol and I don’t always agree on what we are going to do…our parenting styles are very different…
And that is something else. Parents are different from each other, and if you have more than one parent involved with raising a child, the parents sometimes need to talk about what to do, how to do it, etc, and parents don’t always agree with each other, so that requires discussion and compromise. Parenting is the toughest job I have ever done.
I used to feel as if I had to explain my actions and motives regarding my decisions about my kids, but not anymore!. They are pretty awesome people, and I know that the only person that knows them better than themselves….. is me. I know what makes them tick, what motivates them, what they are afraid of and what they want from life. I know their hearts and most of the time I know their minds.
My point is that I want parents who are caring, trying their best, and just doing what they think is the right thing for their kids, (bio kids, adopted kids, step kids,god kids, any kids), ….to own their decisions, and know within ourselves, that we do not need to justify or explain our decisions regarding our children to anyone besides our partners, ourselves and (sometimes) our kids.
So if you want your kids to see a movie or read a book, date, wear makeup, stay home from school, (or not), it is your decision to make. If you think they should or should not attend a party or a school dance, or a movie or a football game, that is a parents choice as well. So decide, and own that decision knowing that you are always trying to do the best for your children. Trust your parenting decisions!