When it comes to the hardships of parenting, it can seem like everyone around you has an opinion on which one is the worst and how to handle them. What they don’t always tell you is that this can be the greatest hardship of them all. Reading up on helpful tips or taking in a few anecdotes from others can have its value, but what happens when information and judgment are thrown at you without your consent?
“My family, friends, friends that had kids, friends that didn’t have kids, my pediatrician— everybody had an opinion on how we should be raising our child,” says Traci Cummings, an ‘unconventional mom’ and Kids in the House contributor.
It is only human nature to have an opinion, but that doesn’t mean you have to consider all of them.
Setting restrictions on who is allowed to offer their input can be a great way of minimizing your frustration.
Writer and mother Megan Macmanus found the internet made her parenting choices too vulnerable to negative comments. “I found the best way to deal is to remove myself from the equation. The internet is the worst,” says Macmanus. For all of the wealth of information available online, there are just as many forums for unresearched, potentially hurtful opinions to be shared. Macmanus herself found blocking these websites using parental control settings to be a beneficial modification. “I think sometimes it’s really difficult to not feel judged for parenting decisions, especially when you make decisions that some people disagree with or that are outside of the mainstream,” notes Macmanus. She found that friends, family, and acquaintances were much more likely to be curious without judgment in face to face interactions, but for every encounter that was not constructive, she recommends stepping away from the situation. “You don’t have to discuss every parenting decision you make with every parent that you meet. You can simply talk about something else,” Macmanus advises.
No matter how much advice you receive, your parenting style will be a product of your own instincts, beliefs, and goals for your child. Personal acceptance in your ability to raise your child is the strongest antidote to damaging, unwanted judgment of your parenting style. “What it came down to for me, ultimately was, I had to do what I was comfortable with and what felt right for me. In dealing with other people’s judgments, I put a lot of thought behind my parenting and I believe in it,” Cummings says. “I don’t care what they have to say about it. I believe that I am raising my child, and both of my children now, exactly how I want to.”
Despite the thousands of methods of raising a child, one goal remains for each: giving the child the best possible life. Keeping the focus on that task, instead of the chorus of voices, can help turn your attention away from the damage of parental judgment.
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