We might love our families and simultaneously feel as though we aren’t entirely accepted by them. We brace ourselves for criticism about our hair, job, or housekeeping skills. Even more personal, we might find our parenting choices being questioned.
If you know that you’re likely to take some heat this summer, it’s best to be prepared for the onslaught of opinions and suggestions.
Make conscious parenting choices
Rely on data
Sharing data from a reputable source makes an otherwise heated interaction less personal and shows that your choices are conscious decisions supported by the data.
Recognize they probably feel defensive
If you don’t use timeouts but your sister does, she may assume that you’re judging her for her choices. If you co-sleep but you were placed in a crib in your own room as six weeks, your parents might assume you blame them for how they parented. And if you don’t spank but your grandparents are firm believers in the “spare the rod, spoil the child” school of parenting, they might be feeling as though you not only disapprove of spanking but that you also disapprove of them.
It might help to have empathy for these family members, recognizing that they did best with the skills and information available to them. You can remind your sister that your parenting choices are personal and have nothing to do with hers. Folks, parenting isn’t a competition.
Resist the urge to justify or proselytize
You also don’t have to spread the good news of respectful parenting like a Hare Krishna. Your actions will speak louder than your words, and if an interested family member feels inspired by your parenting, they will reach out. Wait until that moment and resist sharing your opinions unless a child’s welfare is being jeopardized.
Build a village of like-minded people
Building a community who understands why you parent the way you do and are supportive of your lifestyle is incredibly valuable.
If you are parenting with respect and empathy, you can rest assured that even if your Uncle Mike doesn’t understand the choices you make, you're doing what's best for your kids. And isn't that what matters most anyway?
In Other News...
While up to this point blogging and maintaining my Facebook page have been my primary projects, I’m branching out and opening myself to new adventures that I’ll be eager to share when the time is right.
As such, I’ve decided to take the month of July off from blogging. I hope to challenge myself in some news ways, but I also plan to simply slow down and enjoy my family. I’ll keep sharing old posts on my Facebook page, and I hope you'll meet me back here in August so we can keep learning and growing together!