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Thursday
Mar082012

EDUCATION VS. INTIMIDATION: WHY YOUR PARENTING PHILOSOPHY IS NOT MINE

Most people think the hardest part about becoming a new parent is finding yourself having to care for a helpless little baby. Me, I think it's having to deal with other people's bullshit. There are more schools of thought out there on parenting than there are days in the week, and frankly, I for one don't have the time or the inclination to hear them all- I'm too busy raising my own child.
 
Let's face it, for new parents, it's a minefield out there full of unsolicited parenting advice. And whenever I think of all the people accosting you with their take on how to raise YOUR children, I'm always reminded of that old scene from Airplane (1980) where the guy tries to make it from one end of the terminal to the other without having a Hare Krishna, a Rabbi, a Priest, or a Jehovah's witness stop him to tell him how he should be living his life. And, personally, I'm pretty much willing to do exactly what he did to ensure that everybody knows I won't be second guessed when it comes to how I choose to raise MY child. But I'm a pacifist...



You see, I'm a firm believer in education, not intimidation. I don't think you should walk up to a freaked out first time parent in a mall and start telling them everything you think they are doing is wrong. I think you walk up to a first time parent to congratulate them on joining the "team" and give them encouragement for doing their best with the limited experience (I dare not say knowledge) that they have. Sure, you're entitled to your opinions on breastfeeding, or sleeping arrangements, or scheduling, or circumcision, or the various disciplines on discipline, but unless someone asks you for them, why can't you just shut the hell up? Your thoughts are not so important that everybody needs to hear them out loud, so why don't you just zip it... or start a blog.

Yes. I get it. If you subscribe to a particular parenting philosophy and it's made a "huge difference in your life," you're a brand new you and you know something the rest of the world needs to know- be it some fact or statistic or study that you read that changed your whole outlook as a parent. Great, start a website, but don't start accosting people on the street, on the bus, or on the playground who just want to do their own thing when it comes to raising their kids. Don't start creeping around hospital maternity wards waiting for your opportunity to "change a life" that doesn't need (or want) to be changed. And certainly don't start posting things on my Facebook page to draw attention to causes that- if you read my Facebook page you'd know- I don't necessarily support.

Look, good for you, you didn't like how you were parenting your kid(s) so you made a change. I applaud you for it. You researched it, you tried it, it worked for you, and now you stand by your decision knowing you made the right decision...for you. Or maybe you see an injustice in the world, one that affects a very small number of people, but one you stand behind and support with all your might. Fantastic. Shout it from the rooftops. Petition all your friends. But stop trying to sell me on it like you're trying to get me in on the ground level of some multi-level marketing scam. I'm not buying it.

You have your parenting philosophies, and I have mine. We can co-exist. I choose to educate new parents by talking about my day. You choose to intimidate new parents by hammering them over the head with some misguided sense of righteousness that says you know better. And maybe you do, but there's got to be a better way of going about getting your message across. I leave that up to you. For now, let’s just say your whole reformed parenting routine doesn't do anything but scare new parents in to taking sides that they just don't need to be taking. It's hard enough to find yourself thrust in to a new world of diapers, and screaming, and sleeplessness without someone telling you that each and every one of your instincts is wrong- when, in fact, they are not.

Let's be honest, parenting isn't an exact science, and the truth of the matter is, no matter what you do, no matter how well intentioned you are, no matter how well you prepare yourself for this all important position, you're going to make plenty of mistakes and more often than not your kids won't be perfect. Parenting isn't a f--king math quiz, where you either know the answers or you don't; it's a frickin' English exam in essay form that is subject to interpretation, and a real "teacher" understands that.

But hey, if you want to be the Jehovah's Witness of the parenting world, you go right ahead. You tell parents what they can and can't do. I'm glad you found something that works for you, even if your way of sharing it is off putting and elitist.  Personally, I'm going to support those who believe in providing information to new parents without judgement or prejudice because that's just the kind of person, and parent I am.

You may be willing to stand in a long line up of people wanting to slap new parents in the face, hoping to wake them up to the "realities" of parenting. Not me. All I want to do is show them that they have choices, and choosing your OWN adventure, after all, is what "parenting" is all about.

Related Links:
5 Different Parenting Methods That Take it to the Extreme

 

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Reader Comments (5)

Fantastic....... Love it!

March 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhenry amador

loved this one!! the writing was awesome, and the airplane clips were icing on the cake :)

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterranting

I did a lot of research before my baby was born, because we didn't know what we were going to do about the circumcision. One of the very anti-circumcision articles I read, though, after giving many reasons not to circumcise, warned parents not to be preachy with parents who choose otherwise. African parents, the writer said, would be equally as horrified by the way Western parents neglect their infant kids by making them sleep in their own rooms. Basically, judging other parents, especially if the issue is about cultural norms, is definitely not helpful.

In the end, we did choose to circumcise. I'm glad we didn't get criticized by anyone, but I also know that if we did, we would have been very comfortable letting the critics know where they can shove their opinions.

December 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBloggerFather

Well done!

July 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

I'm with you on this. It's fine to share your opinion on something so personal - when it's asked for. Otherwise, keep it to yourself. No on wants to be judged.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLarry

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