Last Saturday I told a friend about how parents are so quickly and easily judged by others.
“It’s not that I don’t make my own judgments,” I said. “But I do so with caution in that I ask myself ‘What can I learn from this parent’s moment?’ Because all we are seeing is a moment: a snippet of the kind of parent and the kind of child these people are. We don’t know them. They are strangers. But we see moments. And we can learn from them no matter what.”
I know I’ve been judged many times over regarding how I choose to parent my boys. I am constantly judged by family and friends, and of course, strangers, too. They see my moments. Our moments. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re bad.
Often, it’s our friends who give the most insightful and positive critique.
“I like how you have taught him (X).”
Or the biggest compliment: “Teach us.” To which my husband and I said, “We can’t teach you. You have to examine your own life and what your child is like. Then choose what you believe is best for you.”
I understand most types of parenting. “Most” because I am extremely uncomfortable with over indulgence, with over-protectiveness, and with corporal punishment. I will not condemn parents who choose these but they are methods that I would not choose for myself or my kids.
But I do know I am judged and can feel I am judged for allowing my son to express himself and ask questions. Many of those who surround me seem to believe that “proper behaviour” means “obedience without question”.
Heck, in my prayers, I pose (often unanswered) questions regarding directives from the Lord. Sometimes I am indulged a response or an explanation. Other times he remains silent and expects me to just remain faithful and trusting.
If I question the will of God, who am I to stop my child from asking his own questions and expressing his misgivings? I’m not trying to raise robots. I want my children to think for themselves. I want them able to reason. Most of all, I want them able to understand the full impact of their choices and the consequences of their choices. Where better for them to learn than in the safety of our home and our embrace?
It’s a difficult route to take. I admit that I have lost my temper many times, cried sometimes even in front of my child, and frustratedly asked him “Why must you be so difficult today?”
He hugs me and then kisses me. And that’s when I know it’s all worth it. The effort of explaining things, being open with him and allowing him the chance to express himself.
He isn’t being difficult. He’s a little person experiencing big emotions. I think that’s from Magda Gerber or L.R. Knost. It’s our job to walk them through it.