There is one thing about motherhood and parenting that amazes me over and over again. Before becoming a mother, I never would have thought that people are exposed to this one thing once they become parents. Opinions. People’s opinions. People just seem to have very strong point of views and often they don’t mind at all sharing, or in some cases, forcing them on you.
With being a mother now for a little bit over two years, I have experienced myself what it feels like to be confronted with opinionated people when it comes to parenting. I questioned myself why this is so and I came to the conclusion that there is not only one reason but that the situation is much much more complex.
I am my child – I am a well performing parent
There is a two sided point that makes the whole talk about parenting styles so complicated. Topics that are directly linked to our offspring bring often a mix of emotions to the surface. On the one side, we (mostly) strongly do belief that our personal choice to raise our children a certain way is the best. On the other side, being confronted with a different parenting style can generate feelings such as insecurity and indirect rejection of our own parenting approach. When being openly criticised for what we are doing we may as well feel down graded in our performance as a parent.
“I have no kids but I know the deal”
Fact is, that if you don’t have kids yourself and raise them you don’t know the real deal. Period. It’s the same for every other topic. If you don’t sit in the boat yourself you can’t tell those who are concerned what to do and feel and certainly what not to do and not to feel.
However, people are not perfect and hence, there are a lot of people without children who have strong opinions about parenting. At this point, I’d like to sincerely apologise to anyone I may have annoyed or hurt in the past due to sharing my opinions on parenting. I didn’t know back then. I was young and stupid and could still go out and stay the next day in bed for as long as I wanted.
Tell me where you are from and I tell you what type of parent you are
My man is French-Italian, I am German and together with live in the Netherlands. I experienced that parenting styles can differ a lot from one country to another. The way how we raise our children can be deeply routed in a country’s culture and can also reflect in the language and the actual meaning or use of words that are linked to parenting actions.
It’s all about S-o-c-i-e-t-y
Well, to make things really complicated let’s add to this mix all those customs that are set by the society we live in. Our society changes and hence our customs do too. For instance, the way how our grand-parents were told to raise their kids – I call them the “don’t – spoil – them- generation” – is very different from our parenting styles today, being much more liberal. Social customs do certainly influence us too in making our choices and forming our opinions. Moreover, they can also be perceived as pressure (take for instance “breast is best” for women who can’t breastfeed due to physical reasons).
With all this in mind, it’s pretty obvious why talking about parenting can be so bloody complicated and can end up in nerve wrecking discussions. For myself, topics such as longterm breastfeeding (Whaaaat, you are still breastfeeding ?), our children’s sleeping habits (“Does your child sleep though the night yet ?” “Co-Sleeping is dangerous and kills the couple’s intimate life!”) and vaccination (the topic I avoid the most due to its complexity) have been those where I have experienced people being the most opinionated about. It’s those topics that bring the most extreme opinions together and which are of very complex nature:
Longterm breatsfeeding is linked to personal abilities, social customs as well as industrial and social development.
Sleep habits bring up the question of health and security and the parent’s status as a couple.
Vaccination is all about the importance of the children’s health vs the common health of all of us.
The thing is that I understand why we have our own and sometimes very strong opinions and why parenting is such a sensitive topic. However, everything would be so much nicer if we could just accept each other’s choices and the fact that there is no right and wrong. Every child is different and all parents are different. Respecting each other and our choices means that we don’t have to tell in an negative way what we think of their parenting style or what we think they should not do. If we don’t agree with something, we can just move on and let them be. Whether it’s in real life or in our cyber world. What works well for some might not work for others…and to close this note let’s be honest: the way how we raise our children is at the end nobody’s business, right ?
Happy Sunday xxx