It appears that in this day and age there is always at least one person out there keeping a watchful eye over certain aspects of our lives, ready to pounce with, sometimes harsh, criticism.
Perhaps it is this influx of social media and reality television that has created this ‘big brother’ complex in our society. Our often private moments are displayed ever so publicly, and like vultures circling above, there are people who cannot help but put in their two cents worth. And, parenting is one of those aspects that comes under fierce scrutiny.
Parenthood should be a joyous period – a time for learning, bonding and getting to know both your child and your capabilities as a parent.
This is by no means an easy feat in itself, let alone where at every corner it appears that somebody is judging you or your methods. It does not really matter if this is your first or 10th child, the experience is virtually the same.
Along with the hype and focus on parenting, labels for parenting styles have been coined. Having a box or ‘stereotype’ to fit into, not only puts more pressure on average parents, but there are also certain stigmas attached. For instance, a helicopter parent has a particular negative connotation, whereby parents ‘hover’ every aspect of their child’s life with no room for self-expression, discovery and growth. On the other end of the spectrum are permissive or uninvolved parents, who are perceived as being irresponsible as they have few demands or expectations of their children.
Although it is nice to know that there are well-meaning individuals out there, who are happy to help and dish out some seasoned parenting advice. At other times, it crosses over to being pestering, critical and just downright mean. As a parent and responsible adult, it is these moments and words that you must take with a grain of salt and politely put these individuals in their place.
You are now responsible for your child – which is also tied to your dignity as a parent – and you have every right to raise them ‘your’ way.
Unless you are neglectful or abusive, nobody else in their right mind can criticise or question your methods. The ‘perfect parent’ is about as real as a unicorn flying through the air, so shake off the negativity, ditch the labels and keep doing what is right for you and your family unit.
One of many important lessons learned as a parent, is to be more open and mindful that every family has a ‘story’ behind them. Things are not always as they seem, and as parents we need to support, as opposed to judge and tear down, one another on this journey. What works for one family may not necessarily work for another – we need to accept and respect that we are doing things our way.
Each day spent as a parent is a day spent learning.
“There are times as a parent when you realise that your job is not to be the parent you always imagined you’d be, or the parent you always wished you had. Your job is to be the parent your child needs, given the particulars of his or her own life and nature”
– Ayelet Waldman