I was listening to a podcast the other day about how parents often feel judged by each other. Everyone who has a child knows the best way to get their child to eat well, sleep, use the potty, not cry, blah blah. The problem is we often think the thing we’ve stumbled across that works for our child will translate to someone else’s.
It struck me that actually, parenting is a bit like religion.
There are a group of us wandering about thinking “meh, I don’t really care what you do so long as it doesn’t impact me; live and let live!”
Then there are the ones who know what’s right, and they know what’s wrong, and they think you should do the same as them. Believe in the same God, use the same parenting technique.
When I first started this blog, I wrote a few posts about the way I was choosing to care for S. Someone I had considered a friend sent me a rather detailed Facebook message telling me I should be careful what I wrote about, as people were likely to feel judged by my words. I found it hard to understand that; at no point had I said “I do this and if you don’t I think you’re wrong” or “you’re a bad parent” or anything like that. I know that what I have chosen to do with regard to raising my daughter is not exactly mainstream in a lot of respects. I know that choosing to have her sleep in my bed, breastfeed on demand whatever time of day or night it was, always picking her up if she cried was seen by many as odd, and I know that I know as many people who do the same as me, as do entirely different. I DON’T CARE.
Unless your philosophy for raising your child involves harming them, me or my child, I don’t care what you choose to do.
Unless your religion involves harming others, I don’t care what you believe.
Why do we as humans seem to have this need to have our beliefs backed up by others? So many of us are seemingly incapable of toddling through our lives, happy with our own beliefs. We’re insistent on saving each other from… having a child we deem to be “naughty?” From Hell? Or just from being different to us?
I’m sure sometimes people look at S and I in the street and think I spoil her. They probably even think she’s naughty sometimes. I don’t think either, and I’m her mum so my opinion trumps everyone else’s. It doesn’t matter what anyone says to me; I’m not going to put my child on the naughty step or call her naughty or “discipline” her. In all honesty, I really don’t care what you think of my child, or what you do with yours. We can still be friends as long as what you’re doing doesn’t constitute child abuse!
The thing is, I was not raised in the way I am choosing to raise my child. In reality, I have no idea whether my approach to parenting will produce a well-adjusted, happy adult any more than the route you have taken.
And when it comes to religion, if there is a God you can be pretty damn sure it’s the same God for the Christians as it is for the Muslims, the Jews, the Sikhs and whoever else. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen any holy book, ever, that preached judge everyone by your standards and preferences! Make them the same as you, or it will definitely affect your destiny. I’m fairly sure Heaven is not a party to which you’re only granted entrance if you’ve managed to convince 50 people to come with you. And in parenting, we all know deep down that the only person you need to be popular with is your child.