Hey, you! Yes, you! You delightful person that is reading this blog post! Guess what? You are a wonderful parent and you are doing it right! Don’t you shake your head at me or roll your eyes. I’m totally serious! What’s that? You want to know how I know that? Well, thank you for asking. I’d love to tell you!
We are all parenting the “right” way....whatever that means for our current situation. Sure, I believe that there are some universal “right” ways to doing parenting (i.e. Don’t let your child wander into traffic. Don’t let them eat candy and nothing else. Teach them to be kind, brave, compassionate individuals.) Don’t get me wrong. None of us are perfect parents (because none of us are perfect people) and none of us never make mistakes. We don’t have great days every day. We don’t have bad days every day. Sometimes a day is just a day. Nothing over the top happened---no first steps were taken, no one required a band aid, no one’s day was ruined because big brother got the Paw Patrol plate instead of him, etc. The danger with inventions like social media is that, if we allow it, we will create a vision of what someone’s day/life must be like based on what pictures/stories/events they share and, as parents, that can sometimes translate into, “That person is a better parent than me. They have it figured out and I don’t. I’m doing it wrong. They’re doing it right.” I’m always reminding myself of the quote by Steve Furtick (revised a bit by me) that states the importance of not comparing our behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reels. Be happy for those individuals having a good moment/day/week/year but also remember that those good times don’t create a wall that keeps out all of the unpleasant times. Their kids still cry and bother their siblings. They still have feelings of imperfection. They are still working through the ups and downs of life even if they aren’t sharing it in a public forum.
Perhaps you are still rolling your eyes at me telling you that you’re doing this parenting thing the right way. Maybe you still don’t believe me. Well, let me tell you how parenting the “right” way looks for me.
I feed my children every day. Kraft Mac & Cheese, peanut butter & jelly, and pancakes are regularly on the menu. Most days they have toaster waffles or instant oatmeal for breakfast. Some days, my youngest doesn’t eat a single bite of vegetables and for months, the only type of fruit he would eat was cantaloupe---sometimes. I clean my house (occasionally). There may be dog hair everywhere and crumbs under the table and toothpaste spots on the sink & mirror but it’s clean enough and that’s good for me for the time being. I don’t use essential oils or all natural cleaners. My boys wear/wore cloth diapers and wear clothes that were mainly found at consignment & garage sales. I’m a strong believer in God, vaccines, “cry it out”, schedules, pacifiers, swaddling, and eating lots of cookies with my oldest son while my youngest is taking a nap. I let my boys have a lot more “screen time” than the AAP/pediatricians/”they” (who on earth are “they”??) recommend. Both of my sons had crib bumpers in their crib. I rarely used a baby monitor with my second child.
Am I parenting the right way?? I absolutely think I’m parenting the right way for what my family and children need. I think I’m parenting the right way based on my personal views and beliefs. But that doesn’t mean that YOU are parenting the wrong way if your way of parenting looks different from mine. We have far too many things in this life to worry about and worrying about whether we are being good parents is one thing but worrying about whether or not we are being better or worse parents than someone else is another issue. You are a unique individual. I am a unique individual. Our children are unique individuals. I have even learned that how I parent my two children can sometimes look different as they are two unique individuals. Something I really appreciate about FIT4MOM Grand Rapids is that while there are a wide varieties of beliefs and areas of life that are important to us, there is no judgement. I have always felt support, encouragement, and camaraderie from the other moms in our group. You’re doing a great job. You really are. I try so hard to tell myself that, especially on the days that don’t feel so great. Parenting can be so draining and overwhelming yet so fun and exciting. We can all do this and we can all do this the “right” way.