Thursday, April 5, 2012

Parenting; You're doing it wrong.

Before I was a parent, there were plenty of things that I didn't understand. One of which was the portrayal of the crazy, over-the-top, judgemental, helicopter-ish Mother's on television. Surely people didn't really act like that in the real world.

::takes a pause to laugh at how naive I was::

In the real world, parenting is full of judgemental buttholes. (Yep, I said buttholes.)

Here's the thing; parenting is hard. It's a constant struggle for many of us. Parenting is really no different than any other part of life. Most of us try to do our best. We make mistakes along the way, and we learn from them. But mistakes are made. Sometimes we yell at our children when we are stressed. But we forgive ourselves. Sometimes we look back at the choices we made and wish we would have done things differently. We learn from that too.

Don't get me wrong; there are things that get under my skin. I'm a breastfeeding advocate, and an advocate of car seat safety. I believe that every parent should be informed about such things and understand the implications of the choices that we make. I strongly believe that the key to making children happy, safer, and better adjusted is to educate parents through the mainstream. Hospitals should show parents how to properly use carseats in an informative manner. Breastfeeding should be praised not shunned because of its' benefits.

But when did we start judging one another so harshly? At what point do we stop putting one another's choices down in a manner that makes them feel badly about their choices as parents, and start lifting each other up through education and awareness?

We're all trying to take car of our children. I don't mind helpful advice, in fact, I love it. But I do mind people who think they know best (about everything) and will inform you of it over and over again. I'm bothered when I see people who simply aren't trying. It bothers me when people don't bother to put their children in car seats, or bother to tighten the straps. It bothers me when people don't bother to feed their children anything but junk. But what doesn't bother me is parenting who are trying. Parents who are making an effort to do the best that they can.

Here are a few facts:

1. Organic food is awesome. I wish that I could afford more of it. We do what we can, but we don't always buy organic. And that's okay. The occasional McDonalds happy meal and some Mac N Cheese are not child abuse. Stop acting like they are.

2. Everyone (children and adults alike) would be safer in a car if they were rear facing. All children should be in carseats. Children should ride rear facing until the weight limits of the carseat, which usually allow the children to grow to age 3-5. Reality is, this doesn't work for everyone. True, there is no excuse for your 8 month old to be forward facing. In fact, it's illegal, and for good reason. But there is a point where putting a two year old front-facing makes sense. It is not child abuse. The fact that your 4 year old is still rear facing does not make you a saint.

3. Breast is best. Period. Yes, it bothers me when parents don't bother to at least try to give their child the best possible nutrition. But facts are that formula is not poison. Formula is not child abuse.

4. Cloth diapers are great. In fact, I think they are freaking adorable in pretty much every way. But facts are that studies show that in the long run they are almost equal to disposables in the footprint that they leave on the earth. Your baby's cloth diapered butt is adorable. But it is not any better than my baby's huggies covered butt.

Here's what I believe; good parents (nay, great parents), do not have to be perfect parents. Being a parent takes a few simple things; taking care of your child, keeping your child safe and healthy, and giving your child unconditional love and support. We all are trying to do the best we can. Maybe if we spent a little more time talking to each other, supporting each other, and getting to know each other rather than judging one another, we could all do a little bit better.

//end rant.

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