When it comes to parenting, there’s nothing more disheartening or disturbing than feeling the “eye” from others questioning your methods. I remember a well intentioned young adult approaching me once while out for a walk with my boys by a icy pond. He wanted to let me know that my son was at risk walking on the (very strong I would like to add) ice and that he was surely going fall in the water and get hypothermia. “I feel you are quite negligent”, he said. It took every ounce of self control not to lose it as I was already having a rough day. I responded with a snarky question, “Are you a parent?” and then went on to tell him I appreciated his concern, but we were good.
I’ve had many other well intended souls give me advice on what they think I could be doing better. “Have you thought of giving them less sugar?”, “Have you tried such and such a product?”, “Have you ever thought of seeing if they need demonic deliverance?” (for real, someone asked that).
The glares, the concerns, the ignorant statements are not going to go away, so here are three helpful tips in how to get past it and move on.
- It’s important to come at parenting from a place of worth. The glares are only feeding the lies you are constantly telling yourself: “I suck”. They wouldn’t affect you if you didn’t struggle with this belief. Are we so fragile that one look can destroy us? That an ignorant comment from a stranger can create such shame? Many days I can give a sobbing “Ye, ye, YES”. Many times our reactions to outside criticism and downright hurtful words take root inside only because of the self doubt we keep choosing to believe. Constant questioning our ability to parent will torment us. We need to build our lives on the foundation of our worth as a child of God so when the waves of criticism crash into us, we will not be moved. I am enough whether I’ve had a good parenting day or a rough one.
- Remember, no one woke up this morning wanting to be a jerk. People mean well. This perspective has saved my heart from becoming judgmental and hard towards people. Sometimes people’s responses come from their own shame they have felt from others. It’s hard to pass anything else on when you’ve experienced no different. And when people give you advice, chances are you’ve tried everything they’ve suggested. Instead of being annoyed think: “Wow! I’ve done my research. I’m resourceful. Not to mention I’m that dedicated to my child’s success in overcoming their obstacles.” That’s a good parent right there 🙂
- Don’t let fear of what others think dictate how you treat your child. This has been my greatest weakness. My children will do something completely embarrassing, such as drop an f-bomb in a park of toddlers (for more on that, read the blog before this one) and I let the expectations of other parents overcome what I feel I really should do in that moment. When this happens, its because I am caring more about what I look like to others, rather than how my child feels and what they need. It never ends well. It usually ends with my child feeling embarrassed or ashamed because I’ve made certain the judgment of the other moms are appeased. I will show them I am the boss! I will prove my worth! I will not let anyone think I don’t have control over my children! …. but I will lose connection with my child in the process. It takes a big gulp of humble pie to put blinders on and care more about your child in those moments than yourself.
My heart has felt great sorrow many times over with the overwhelming shame that accompanies judgment – especially when it has come from people close to me. Yet in the moments I have chosen to sacrifice my pride for the betterment of my child, I hear a whisper “That’s what love looks like”. Love is hard, but that’s why it’s worth so much.
So friend, know your worth, be confident in what your child needs, and know you’re doing an amazing job. Stay brave.