Things that realy bug me — post one

Had coffee with a friend today … discussion involved one of her kids. High energy, darling, loving, energizer-bunny type kid (just like one of mine …). Hers is one of my favorite — his zeal for life is good for me.

She’s sharing about how one of her “friends” on a recent field trip “parented” this boy. He was doing something very boy-like … not destructive, not disruptive … just doing boy stuff.  “We don’t do those kinds of things,” this friend said. Mom simply brought boy to her, and left it lay.

Here’s the thing: My kids are my kids. I have four kids, and I’ve asked a lot of people about a lot of things. I have good friends who I trust to bounce things off of, and have always been very conscientious about raising them to be acceptable members of society.

I have not raised my kids to be little cookie-cutter versions of me. I have not raised my kids to think simply like “the system” of the world or the church. Despite what “anyone” thinks, my husband and I have done what we thought of as right, and are damn proud of all our kids.

And you know what? We have good kids. They are not perfect. They are not always easy to live with (but then, neither am I). But people frequently tell us stories about our kids, and their behavior and how they really enjoy being with them. Our kids are good thinkers. They are diverse in their understanding, comfortable in most settings, and are not afraid of hard work or taking the path less traveled.

So … today, I told my friend, “Here’s the deal. You need to try to learn to not listen to people who think they can ‘help’ you raise your child.” Understand this friend is a person who cares about what others think — but it is not her highest motivation. She is quite a bit younger than me, and I reassured her that, at her age, I struggled with other’s perceptions much more. “But,” I told her, “at the end of the day, this little boy is yours and your husband’s.”  His acting socially acceptable to others is not the highest criteria for a kid’s behavior.

Yeah, I have friends who, in my opinion, let their kids run wild. I know parents who are inconsistent, and whose children constantly take advantage of their parents’ weaknesses. But it is still not my job to parent these children. I might avoid them. I might not let my kids spend a lot of time with them. But at the end of the day, until a good friends asks, “What do you think?” I keep my mouth shut.

And, I appreciate others who do the same. I was frustrated for my friend, because she really is a good mom. She and her husband are consistent in raising their kids, and she does a great job letting this little guy be an energetic boy. I told her what worked best for us was to keep our energizer bunny active, busy, and reward him when he accomplished a task I set out for him by letting him run around after completing the task.

We’re so quick to judge others, aren’t we? A lot of judgment, in my opinion, comes from our own inadequacies. We either are not sure of things we’ve decided, or we are overly confident that we have the only answer in certain areas — and child-rearing tends to be a very volatile one. All I know is that, unless you’ve reared a child from day one, you should probably keep your opinions to yourself. Unless you’re asked. Or, unless in endangers your own kids.

Other times, keep it closed, and learn to love with a lot more grace.

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2 Comments »

  1. LT Said:

    One of the things I’ve noticed is that women can be especially tough on other women. I read somewhere that we’ve got a sort of ‘pack’ mentality, and when a woman violates our social norms, it somehow becomes personal – as if it is a comment on (or a threat against) our own choices, methods or style. I think the article was in the context of the stay-at-home vs. career mom discussion, but I think it applies to other things as well. It’s something that I try to be aware of, and guard against.

    Another thing I’m reminded of is the issue of giving *guidance* directly to a child. How it makes the child feel is important, too. When a child knows the adult well, it’s one thing, and I can’t tell if this was the case for your friend. But it’s really tough on a kid when the adult isn’t well-known. Recently I saw this in action, when a small group of children were hollered at by a total stranger. Their collective behavior was a little loud, really active, but not ‘hollerable’, from my point of view. The ‘hollerer’ felt the kid’s conduct was inappropriate for the building they were in – a church. The fact that this time was a family social time, not a worship service, did not come into the thinking of the hollerer, who operated from point blank range not once, but twice. One of the kids looked shell-shocked. I remember that feeling well.

    Finally, standards of behavior have changed, I think, in this generation. The idea of forcing children into being ‘ladies and gentleman’ seems to be set aside for ‘allowing them to be children’. I imagine it’s difficult for the folks who proselytize for the former, especially if they feel that the latter is a judgment on the way they parent or parented,

  2. Mon Said:

    Hi, just came across your blog, listed at authenticblogs I think.

    Anyway, this post fits so well with what I just wrote, a piece about how we make assumptions when we see other mothers and their choices.
    Parenting is such a difficult ‘job’, if not the most difficult, we ought to support each, but the norm seems to judge. Shame isn’t it?


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