Having children is a wonderful, beautiful thing. We are blessed with these interesting, complicated, loving little humans and are lucky enough to have been chosen to raise them. Every day is an adventure, because we are learning new things about them and watching them experience countless things for the very first time. However, despite the joys and wonder-inducing moments that our sweet babies generate, the margin for error in child rearing is huge. There are simply a million ways that anything and everything can go wrong. How are we to ensure that we don't mess up the opportunity that we have been given? Is there a way to make sure, without a doubt, that our choices are the right ones?
Enter: THE INTERNET.
The other day, I looked up "how to get 2 year old to stop biting". I wanted a clear, concise method to get my son to stop digging his teeth into my leg out of excitement or frustration. Did I find what I was looking for? Absolutely. I found a few very detailed and informative accounts on how to help him stop the biting. You want to know what else I happened upon? Two things: I read the comments under the posts and I also found some biting-related forums. Sure, some things were helpful, but I'd say a good 25% of what I read was ignorant or highly accusatory. The internet can be very beneficial but I think that it can be equally as detrimental. It has given a voice to the dreaded sancti-anyone. Anyone who has a computer or phone or window to the interweb can share their input with the world.
Why has this sancti-fever taken the parenting world by storm? It is actually pretty simple when boiled down. Our job, as parents, is one of the hardest, if not THE hardest job in the world. We are held to such high standards in every respect because we are building humanity. We are populating the earth with the next generation, and the pressure associated with that is astounding. Our flaws, our mistakes and our strengths will all somehow reflect in our children. The stakes are high to be the very best parent to our kids. Since every parent wants to be the best parent that they can be, sometimes it's hard to see other parents doing something in a different way than we are doing it. It can be even harder to see another parent that is doing something better than us. This is a basic human reaction. It is so easy to throw on your sancti-shoes and pick that person apart, especially if you are doing it through a screen. If you can find the smallest flaw in their logic, you must be doing a better job as a parent. I have seen so many mothers get picked apart for the most insignificant things. Many have become so afraid of offending or being attacked by other people that they are always so careful about what they say and do.
If you look up any video online involving children, there is always, without fail, at least one person who pipes up and mentions how something the parents did wasn't safe. You could argue that they are simply being a good samaritan but I beg to differ. Sure, there have been cases in which a child has been in true danger and someone stepped in at the right time. However, I'm not talking about the cases of mortal danger. I'm talking about parents going about being parents to their children, living their lives and someone weighs in on something that they perceive to be incorrect, and then proceeds to gift them with all of their knowledge. This can leave parents with self doubt, feeling as though they are doing something wrong. It is that piece of hair in your eye, obscuring your vision, but you can't seem to eradicate it because it is everywhere. It is on facebook, instagram, pinterest, blogs, forums, comments, the list goes on.
Many are so inundated with this ideal of perfection that they are left feeling under qualified for the task at hand, insecure in their decisions and incredibly overwhelmed by all of the opinions and advice they are seeing/receiving.
So, to throw on top of all of that information, here's just a bit more. It is my own personal take on parenting perfection:
1. Perfection is an unachievable ideology. Don't try to be perfect, you will be disappointed. Set achievable goals for yourself and your family and don't give a flying-you-know-what if someone tells you that you aren't doing a good job. You are doing a GREAT job.
2. Being imperfect is a great way for your children to see you, letting them know that it is natural and normal to make mistakes. Raising children is a trial by error kind of gig.
3. Don't be the mean kid on the playground. When you see a bully, it is natural to look at their parents. If you are gossipy and unkind and try to cut other people down, what kind of example are you setting for your children? You are teaching them that it is ok to diminish others to build yourself up.
4. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks. It's a cliche and it's true. Don't worry about attracting someone's disapproval when it comes to your parenting decisions. Make those choices based on what is best for your family, no one else's opinion matters.
Do I follow my own advice all of the time? No I do not, because I'm not perfect. It is fun and it is messy to be imperfect. It is also an essential and unavoidable part of being human. Embrace it and love that part of yourself, it is what makes you, you.
About the Author: Sarah Surette
Contributor for Women's iLab
I am a stay at home mother of two spirited, young individuals. My days are filled with love, laughter and a desperate attempt to hold onto my sanity. I grow through writing and am building a blog in which I document my winnings, failings and everything in between. Happy reading!
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