Thursday, August 4, 2011

Today I Felt Judged.

How odd that not more than a month after reading this post from Ashley (read it, it's good), I would find myself in the uncomfortable position of having my parenting choices constructively criticized. 

Disclaimer:  Hi!  If you are the person who judged me, please know that I have no hard feelings, I am not offended, I still love you, this is not the first time my choices as a parent have been questioned (nor will it be the last), and I am certainly guilty of thinking that other people aren't making the best parenting choices when I really have no clue (and probably will do so again because I'm only human).

To make what could be a long story short, it was brought to my attention that I am not strict enough with my kids.  That I let them get away with behaviors that I shouldn't allow.  That I'm doing a good job all around but just need to be a bit less laid back and take the discipline up a notch.

To be specific, Ash has been getting more and more verbal.  She's been experimenting with sassing me (mostly in gibberish with the occasional "no!" and "don't do that!" thrown in.  Just the other day she asked me for some granola, to which I said sure, if she would get a paper cup out of the cupboard for me to put it in.  Then she struck a pose and began to reprimand me, again mostly in her own gabbled language.  But there was a distinct "You do it!" that passed her lips.  I was surprised, but also amused (which shocked those who think I should be more strict).  I put the granola container up and said, "No.  If you want granola, you get your own cup."  Ash then said, "Ok" and did so.  I honestly think she was just trying out things she's heard before and that no malice or brattiness was intended on her part.  I guess I could have put the granola away and talked to her about her "bad attitude."  But I wasn't upset about what she said.  She wasn't expirementing with being disrespectful.  She's just now putting words together to make sentences and learning from the replies she receives. 

Personally, I feel strongly wary about damaging the lines of communication between myself and my children.  It's too easy to do.  Especially for parents with strong personalities (like myself).  I remember many times as a child not having the words to express how I was feeling inside and having the disciplining adult in front of my assume my silence was a bratty, disrespectful, bad attitude.  I was then punished for their assumption.  I really, REALLY don't want to make that same mistake with my own children.  I know from personal experience that those kinds of experiences don't build trust and openess.  They break bonds and cause gaps in relationships.  So, if my kids express themselves at my expense occasionally, so be it.  I will not be a parent who rides their child's arse over every little thing.  I want my kids to feel comfortable coming to me with ANYTHING and know that I won't over react (really hope these aren't famous last words!). 

Lest you think I am from the un-parenting camp.  I am NOT.  When my kids throw tantrums, they get put in time out.  When they rip books, they lose their book privileges.  When they take toys away, they have to give them back.  Right now I'm working with Britt to stop her nasty hitting impulses (it's gonna be a loooooooong road).  When they fight, I let 'em fight.  Is that wrong?  Spanks are reserved for only the gravest of infractions and usually when an impact really needs to be made.  I do not think yelling or screaming is ever, EVER appropriate or right.  Not, that I haven't been guilty of this, but it's still wrong. 

Sorry if this seems a bit like a rant.  It's not my intention to sound heated or upset.  I'm just posting my feelings on this (meaning: judging, parenting, discipline, and everything else in between).  It'll be fun to come back and read this when Ash truly starts to back talk (something I had a HUGE problem with as a kid).  Plus, I'd really like to know all my bloggy friends' takes on these things too.  Feel free to judge.  It's not a comfortable feeling to be judged, but it's healthy.  It encourages me to take a hard look at what I'm doing and tweak what might need tweaking. 

When it comes to parenting, we are all less than ideal because we're not perfect and neither are our children AND everyone has a different ideal!  :)  What do you think?  Do you often watch other peoples' kids and think "what a brat, MY kid will never get away with THAT!"?  Or do you wonder what led up to the situation?  Do you think kids are way out of hand these days?  I do.  I think that basic kindness and manners should still be taught and modeled, but that's is a whole 'nother topic for another post!  Have you been judged recently?  How did it make you feel?  Do you think that parenting and discipline should be the same across the board for all kids?  Do you think every child warrants a slightly different approach?  What "parenting method" do you subscribe to?

Did I learn anything from this episode?  Yes!  I need to make sure I'm not being judgmental in my thoughts.  We frequently make judgments when we are nowhere near the same situation.  For example, when I hadn't even had children and you better bet each of MY future kids were gonna toe the line, or else!  Or when I only had one child and couldn't figure out why parents of multiple children were so inept.  I mean, come on!  I have a kid and it's a cinch!  You're just not doing it right!  **belly laugh**  Oh goodness.  We're all so clueless.  We've got life figured out so let's just help everyone else figure it out, too!  Right?  I am so guilty, guilty, guilty of all this type of judging.  So, I'm going to work on that.

Oh, and no mean comments about my judgor please (though I highly doubt they read my blog, you never know).  They only made one remark to me and I, then, opened up the whole conversation with them about it.  I simply asked their opinion and was a bit surprised by what I heard.  So, basically, it was an opinion/constructive criticism, so can I even technically call it a judgment?   The judge part is probably just how I felt.  Not that I think any of my sweet bloggy friends are capable of scathing comments, but just in case.  :)

Can I end this post by just quoting from Ashley's post (seriously. read it.)?  I totally echo her words, y'all!

She wrote: "I know many mothers who really DO have it all together and motherhood has come as naturally to them as childhood has come to their children, but I am not one of them.  In support of those who, like me, are SHOCKED that it’s not easy I beg everyone to be a little bit nicer to the moms who are truly trying, but mostly sometimes failing.  I am definitely learning to give other women the benefit of the doubt, and I would hope that there are people out there who will do the same for me."

What she said.

P.S.  According to spell check, I like to make up my own words.  Often by just tagging "-ness" to the end of something.  Cool.

P.S.S.  I did a terrible job of making this long story short.  I think I made it longer.   


Tristin @ Two Girls Being Crafty said...

I feel you.

But you know, before I was a parent I had a LOT of ideas on how children should behave, how I'd respond to situations, and things MY child would NEVER do.

Needless to say, all of my preconceptions and existing ideas went out the window when I gave birth to a stubborn, willful, somewhat disobedient, strong-willed, incredibly passionate child. (P.S. I actually LOVE all those things about her...but they bring constant challenges, obviously). I can't keep up with the child. So I do what every other parent does: my personal best.

That's all each of us can do. Some days, my best is better than other days.

So yeah, I USED to look at kids in stores who throw tantrums as BAD kids. Now, that's MY kid. Aah, the irony.

Anyhow, as long as you're doing your personal best you're a great parent.

Out of curiosity, was the "judger" a parent? Sometimes my non-parent friends say things about what their kids will do or not do, and I grin to myself... because they have NO idea what they're in for.

And your daughter sounds just like mine... just testing the waters, seeing what works and what doesn't. And if it makes you feel better, my response would have been extremely similar. ; )

I love your candor and honesty, by the way.

Sorry... this was more like a post than a comment! ; )

AudreyO said...

You know it's interesting...those who appear to be the perfect families often have secrets that others don't know. I have two really terrific kids. They've made mistakes. I've made mistakes. But we all do ok, have a mutual respect for one another and life is good. We all parent differently and as adults we all end up different due to the different parenting.

alissa4illustration said...

I think you are a good mother!

I love that you only spank your kids when it's something major. I have only spanked my boy's 1 or 2 times. Mica ran out in the street, Isaak did the same, and another for Mica bolting in a parking lot. Both I deemed dangerous! Some people are anti spanking period. I feel if they do something major, they need a wake up call.

I try not to scream! Try is the key word. We actually do a lot of whispering around here. My husband started that one. Kids listen to a whisper more then yelling. A whisper is sacred to them. I posted about yelling here:

I totally got judged by my parents last week about how our kids play. They were worried. I've told you before that they only had girls. My one and only niece lived with us for awhile; she's now in high school. Her brother is in 6th grade and a quiet to himself, a nerd. He's proud of it! GREAT! parents never had typical boy's around until my younger sister and I had ours. They thought our kids were too crazy, played too rough and so on. I reminded my mom about my cousins and how they played. They were rougher then our kids! Well my Mom swallowed her words yesterday when she read a whole article in the paper. Some guy wrote in asking about his 5 year old boy twins; them playing rough. The columnist said basically that his boy's are just fine. That's how boy's play. If they haven't broken anything or gotten seriously hurt they are being good boy's.

I think sometimes you have to parent in a way that works for you. Not how everyone else wants you to parent!

Manners and chores should be modeled and learned both visually and with practice as they age. Mica and Isaak most certainly can't unload the dishwasher, but they do help me with laundry, take their dishes to the counter and say "Please" and "Thank you".

I most certainly feel like kids go through stages to. It's them testing the water. It's normal. If they are sleepy they act up.

Tina Michelle said...

Being a mom is a tough job and everyone has their own opinion of how to do it. It is tough when someone judges you on your choices but good for you for opening the floor for discussion with your friend. Everyone has done the whole My child would never phrase and I am pretty sure their child ends up doing it. ;)

Saimi said...

It is funny how motherhood changes your perspective. When I was young and single I would see children at the store with their mom and their faces would be dirty or their clothing and I'd be thinking, "Seriously how hard is it to wipe a face or have them in clean clothes.

HA I laugh at my thoughts now. You know how many times my kids would be happily playing outside and I needed to run to the store for a quick minute. Yeah, I'd scoop up my dirty faced boys and haul them to the store...I became the mom I once judged....

Great post!

mun said...

As a non-parent, I think you handle the granola scenario very well. Ash did not throw a tantrum and she went to get her own cup without another retort when you told her that she need to get her own cup if she wants the granola so I don't think she should get a talking to.

Amy said...

Can't help you. My kid is perfect. :)

A consolation prize for mommies with angel babies.

I do know how you feel with thinking "my kid will never behave that way." Deep down, I can't help thinking that even though I really do know the reality will NOT be like that. All I can do is hope for the best.

CK said...

ok, question. I am not sure if this all ties it but it seems related: I have a friend who is a REALLY good mother. She is SO fantastic at showing her children that she loves them, teaching them letters/numbers, handling their tantrums and getting them to bed early each night. Its probably all in my head but for some reason I start to notice all of my faults whenever I am around her. So, in effort to over-compensate my feelings of inadequacy, my words slip and I often come out with some undercurrent theme of boasting my strengths as if I am in some type of terrible who's-the-best-mother?-competition. I hate it and I wish I wouldn't do it because I think we are good friends and could be even better friends if I would just get over all my fear of being inadequate or constantly judged by better mothers. Does that make sense? Any words of advice/wisdom would be appreciated.
PS great post. Ashley's was wonderful, as well. She put into words some of my feelings, exactly. SHOCKED is a good word for first-time parenthood...

Elizabeth said...

I really learned a lot from this post. Before I had children, I have to admit I judged people and their children. It wasn't a big failing, but I was often clueless. I have since been the object of criticism occassionally (sp?), so I do understand how it feels.

I actually really like how you are parenting. It is very well thought out and you are doing your best. None of us is perfect. I have made my share of mistakes. I have also done some things really right. I am close to my children and that is what matters most.

It's nice to read about your life again, after such a HUGE absence. I hoping that everything is going well for you.


Simplegirl said...

Perhaps others are trying to be helpful, who knows. But I'm sure that you are a great mom. No parent is perfect, no one! Every family is different, every situation is different, every child is different. There is no right or wrong way of doing it, we just have to do our very best as long as our babes are safe, healthy, happy and can be their own individual person but knowing between right and wrong.

Ash said...

Wow. Always glad to know that there are others in the same boat :) I wish everyone who thinks we're nuts could raise a handful-of-a-girl like Bianca or Ash.
I'm with you on the communication thing though. I feel like, being the only parent, that it is my responsibility to not only discipline and teach Bianca, but to keep a positive, and loving relationship with her so that we can overcome future issues. I read an article the other day about raising emotionally healthy kids and it talked about putting "words to emotions" and talking more about what your child is feeling in the moment rather than just punishing the behavior. Lately I've experimented with asking Bianca things like, "Are you sad that your friend left?" or "Are you mad that dinner is taking too long to cook?" I feel like it has made a difference in how I react to her--teaching instead of punishing.
I love hearing about Ash and Britt! They sound sassy! :)

Faith said...

i'm sorry you were judged.

i can't imagine how hard it is to be a mother, i am not one ... i also can't imagine how many mistakes one can make while they are learning ... but that is life ... we live and we learn.

i think you are doing a fabulous job. you girls are healthy, beautiful and well taken care of. that is a blessing in itself.

Drama queens mum (Kimberly) said...

It is so hard knowing how to be a Mom. I feel like I need to be a bit stricter too. We are all learning each day how to handle each problem.

Anonymous said...

Before I had kids I use think what a brat other people's kids were and how my kids will never be like that, little did I know I would have that child sometimes.
Parenting is hard. It really really really is hard. I tell new mothers pregnancy is cute, but parenting is tough. Those cute little babies grow up to be toddlers, kids, and then teenagers.
We do pretty good disiplining at home. Our kids go to daycare 3 days a week and are the best kids there according to their teachers. Sometimes I watch my oldest from a distance and I see him helping out and being so kind and nice. However all the bad stuff the kids do at school he picks it up and brings it home. So at home it's a constant battle of keeping him in check. His punishment is being put in his room. He screams and cries when he goes in there. But afterward we talked about what happened and he says he won't do it again.
Of course he does it again :)
Sometimes I wonder when will he ever learn?
It would be easier for me if all parents disiplined their children so my children wouldn't learn to act out. But the world isn't that simple.
My family always judge my parenting. They say we are too hard. It's funny when they say I'm too strict. I remind my mom and my grandmother that they use to beat me growing up. It's like they block it out of their mind, and they spoil their grand/great grandkids so much.
I don't like when my family questions my parenting in front of my child. I think that ticks me off the most.

blueviolet said...

Everyone parents differently, and although we may not all agree with each other's choices, in the end it doesn't matter because we only have to live with our own children.

Charlotte (Life's a Charm!) said...

All I know is - being a parent is a hard and humbling experience. And the harshest criticisms I get or heard of about parenting usually come from those who have no kids. They have all the ideas but really, they don't have a clue either.

Before I became a parent, I absolutely have no clue how I am going to be like as a mom or how I would raise my children. All I know is that I will love them unconditionally, and give them good roots to keep their feet on the ground and strong wings to fly to the best of my ability. How exactly I am going to do this - I have no clue. But I learn each day as I get to know more about myself as a mom and about my kids as they grow, develop their own personalities and preferences, etc...

Each day, I learn what works or not, what to do or not, etc... Trial and error. Like I mentioned, being a parent is a hard and humbling experience.