If you’ve ever let a look or comment from another person, or even your own fear, make you parent your kids differently, this one’s for you. (Because only YOU know your kids.)
‘Babies cry. Toddlers tantrum. Deal with it.’
Anyone who’s ever had a baby, will have had that irritating experience.
The one where you’re standing at the check-out till, your baby’s crying and the cashier says, ‘Ahhh. Is she hungry? Poor little thing.’ And you want to scream, ‘NO SHE’S NOT HUNGRY. SHE’S A BABY. AND BABIES CRY. SOMETIMES FOR NO REASON.’
The cashier is just being kind. Just finding something to say, probably. But you feel like there is so much judgement in that comment that you almost whip your boob or bottle out there and then, even though you’ve JUST fed your baby and you KNOW she’s not hungry.
What is it about the words, the looks and the gestures of others that can rock our confidence in our own parenting skills and make us do things differently?
What do they know, really?
One of those kids?
It doesn’t just happen with babies.
It happens increasingly more as your babies grow into toddlers. And preschoolers. And even schoolers. As your babies become less cute and much more accountable for their behaviour.
When you’re with mums who you perceive have better behaved kids than you, it’s particularly noticeable. So you react to something that you might usually let go. Or you react differently.
Because you don’t want yours to show you up. To be unruly. Or exhibit antisocial behaviour like pushing or being rude. Or even refusing to join in because they’re shy. We all see something in our kids that touches a nerve. Quite often, it’s that bit of us, that we’ve never liked about ourselves.
I used to waste a lot of time worrying about how my kids behaved around others. Too much. And it has taken me almost 6 years to get to a point where I’m just about confident (or knackered) enough as a parent to say that, actually, I don’t care that much anymore. I’ve accepted that ALL kids’ needs are different. Their reactions are different.
MY kids are different.
(And only I know them inside out.)
Don’t shoot first and ask questions later.
I won’t stand for antisocial behaviour. Of course not.
But I will try to understand it, before I discipline it. (Especially because if you have one of those children, it is easy to get labelled for every bad thing that happens and that isn’t always fair.)
Now, I am more likely to ask first, ‘What happened?’ or ‘Why did you do that?’, than immediately shout and discipline because I want the other parent to see that I am doing something about it.
Surely, it only matters that my child sees I am doing something about it? That they learn something from it? Like how to manage a situation they are finding tricky.
In other words, I’m learning to parent for my kids. And not for someone else.
Your family. Your rules.
Aside from ensuring you only hang out with people whose kids have ASBOs, that’s really the only option.
Because not only are our kids different. But us mums and dads are different. Our morals vary. Our limitations vary. Our tolerance and expectations, especially, vary. And that’s ok. We all have the right to do things within our own family code.
So next time you’re out and about. Try it. Just for the hell of it.
Parent like nobody’s watching. And see what happens.
(And if it ends up in a tantrum, you can always pretend they aren’t yours.)