Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How to parent like a YOU...

I saw a post circulating on Facebook this week: “How to parent like a German.” A couple of my friends posted it, and though I read the article, I chose not to comment.

Until now.

It’s not that I disagree with the article, per se.  Some pretty valid points were raised about placing an emphasis on independence and responsibility in your children. I get that, believe me. What bugs me is that we all have this incessant need to tell each other how to parent, and to hold these unspoken contests on who’s doing it best. Free Range versus Helicopter Mom. Breastfeeding versus formula feeding. Cloth diapering versus Pampers.

So, let me get this straight: I’ve been given this incredible, rewarding (yet at times, Sisyphean) task of raising children, and while I navigate the madness, trying to do right by these little humans I grew in my womb, I’m supposed to be impressing other parents, too?

Pardon me while I do a quick harvest…

Yeah. I really don’t care what you think of my parenting style. My job, as a mother, is not to join a movement or impress other parents, grandparents, or gasp! non-parents. I want to raise two well-adjusted, responsible, kind human beings who know they’re loved and make a positive contribution to society as a result of that. That's the only contest I'm interested in winning.

I’m not going to declare myself #TeamFreeRangeMom or #TeamHelicopterMom, because, in my humblest of opinions, parenting can’t be divided into neat little categories like that. Sometimes my kids need freedom. Other times they need guidance.

We’ve all been to the playground and seen the moms who hover, arms suspended in mid-air like they’re ready to catch their falling kid (in the event that it actually happens). Meanwhile she’s blocking the slide for my kid, who just might fall, too. Sure, it’s annoying. Mostly because I don’t agree with her, and my kid can’t play with her standing in the way. But that doesn’t mean she’s doing it wrong. She’s just doing it DIFFERENTLY than I do.

And then there’s that mom who’s Facebooking on the bench, not a care in the world, while her little baby asshole pushes and pinches and shoves every kid who dares to cross the sandy threshold. I secretly wonder when he'll be arrested for the first time. Those mothers irritate the hell out of me, too. How about tell Dick Junior not to hurt other kids, if you’re going to trust him to call the shots while you get your social media on? Oh yeah, I’m shaking my head at her, but that doesn’t mean that she’s doing it wrong. She’s just doing it DIFFERENTLY than I do.

There's a balance we have to find, because guess what? Kids are unique individuals. There’s no catch-all answer. What works for your kid might not work for mine.  Your 10 year old isn’t allowed to play outside by himself? Bless it. I hope you get a break soon.

You can trust your 4 year old to walk a mile to preschool by himself? Awesome. Mine would steal a car and loot a grocery store. He needs his hand held a little more.

Parenting is trial and error, and no matter how much bloggers spew their unicorn poo all over the interwebs, declaring they wrote the manual on how to do it, they're lying to you. I don’t consult parenting books or listen to Dr. GuiltTrip podcasts to determine how to do my job as a mother. I pay attention to MY kids. I learn their strengths and weaknesses and work on it from there.  I don’t have a magic answer that will work for children across the board, and neither does anyone else. Period. I'm a Jonathan and Jax expert, not a parenting expert.

I know I’m biased, but I have great kids. And even though they look like little carbon copies of each other, they’re nothing alike personality-wise. So everything I thought I knew from my experience parenting Jonathan went right out the window when Jax was born. And they share DNA! So I’m betting your kids are pretty different from mine, too.

So let it be said that I don’t want to parent like a German.

Or an American.

Or anyone else but ME.  

My husband is the only person who has to agree with the choices I make as a mother, and that’s because we are in this thing together. He and I will someday have to answer for the job we did as parents. And it won’t be some hippy dippy blogger who tells us if we did a good job or not.

Have fun picking teams, people. I’ll just be over here parenting my kids.