Over the past few weeks, I have noticed a particularly disturbing pattern in the circles I find myself in. There is a constant need to judge those around us, particularly mothers and their parenting choices and/or their children.
Perhaps I am a little jaded in my views of the world, but I like to tell it like it is...I am appalled that some people feel the need to constantly judge mothers for the choices they make in their lives or parenting styles. Maybe it is because I have been a teacher for so long, maybe it is because I have three children of my own...I don't think it's right.
First of all, we have all been subjected to the parenting of our parents, and that seems to have a lot to do with how we parent , ourselves. If you had incredibly overprotective parents, then you might tend to be a little freer with your own children, establishing opportunities for them to gain some independence and make safe choices when they are young. If you had incredibly strict parents, then you may be a little more lax with certain circumstances and be more permissive of things that you were not allowed to do as a child.
I think what bothers me the most is the perfected looking down your nose at someone when your parenting or life choices don't coincide with your own.
I cannot tell you the looks I have received over the years at Parent Teacher Organization Meetings in which stay at home mom's look at each other when I mention I teach full time. "Oh, you work..." like I have a terminal disease or a philandering husband...What the heck? I don't judge you for staying home...I am not less of a mother because I choose to help my husband carry the financial load of our household. ARGHH! It doesn't make me a better mother either...Can't we find some common ground? I mean, really, we have the TOUGHEST job around...Can't we be supportive of each other because we share the commonality of motherhood? Because we all love our children, regardless of whether we stay at home or work outside of it?
And the worst judgment comes from the parents who automatically take the side of a child who has gotten themselves into a heap of trouble, and you have merely followed through with what you have promised as a consequence. "Oh, you really did that? Don't you think it was a little too much?" Um, no. I am trying to raise men...Men who understand that actions have consequences, whether they are good or bad. Men who are respectful, and will lead productive, happy lives.
I don't care what your prerogative is. I expect this from my children; that they are honest with me, and they do what is right, regardless of what anyone else is doing. Most of the time, it is a thankless job to be their mother. Getting to the joyful part of being their mother has its share of bumps. Perfect children don't just fall out of our uterus'. They are nurtured, they are reprimanded, they are molded. Please don't insult my hard work and my children's ability to learn from their mistakes with a comment like, "You are so lucky. Your children behave so good." Yes, I am blessed, but we have had to work hard for it.
Sometimes, we need to carve our own way as parents. We need to forget what the distracters will say or do, because at the end of the day, you didn't take a poll to decide whether or not you should bring your children into the world. There were two people who made that decision.
In an effort to be efficient, you would not take a poll for every last decision you make as a parent. Because you alone are responsible for your child. You may ask for the name of a good specialist if Johnny has an allergy problem, but you don't poll your friends to decide if you punish Johnny for cheating on a test. You hope and pray that you are doing the right things, saying the right things and that those things will take root in your child.
Judgment day in parenting doesn't come at the end of elementary school or middle school. It doesn't arrive at high school graduation or with a college diploma.
It comes in waves; when your child does something out of second nature; holding a door for an elderly person, standing up for someone who is being taunted. You see it when they become the adults that you knew they could become; honest, kind, hardworking and full of convictions that they live by on a daily basis.
Judgment day comes when they become parents themselves and their parenting style seems awfully familiar. Judgment comes when you become the example they use to raise their own children. And really, isn't that the greatest compliment from the most important source?