On a day like any other day I decided to watch America’s Most Wanted. (I have a weakness for reality tv – no judging!). Anyway, I turned it on expecting to see some bad guys doing some bad stuff but what I saw instead was some REALLY BAD GUYS doing some REALLY BAD STUFF. So bad that it still lives with me now, years later. But, fortunately, at least a glimmer of good came from it as it gave me some very valuable parenting perspective and has helped to shape the foundation of my beliefs – for the better.
The aforementioned really bad guys had adopted seven kids from Guatemala, and treated them horribly. I will spare you the details, however, they were charged with child neglect, child abuse, tampering with a witness, and manslaughter.
And suddenly using formula instead of breastfeeding didn’t seem like that big of a deal. The kids are fed.
Suddenly “spoiling” babies by holding them too much isn’t such a big deal. The kids are being loved.
Suddenly letting toddlers have a pacifier into age two isn’t such a big deal. Your toddler is loved and allowed to have a source of comfort.
Suddenly waiting to potty train until age three to four isn’t such a big deal. They are loved and clean while everyone works towards this overall goal.
Because let me tell you… not all kids experience these very basic human rights of being fed, clean, clothed, cuddled, comforted, encouraged, etc.
I still have my opinions about what is ideal when it comes to parenting but I simply don’t know how to ever be exceptionally passionate about anything that, at the end of the day, is not a big deal. At least not in the grand scheme of things.
This America’s Most Wanted story forever changed me and how I perceive things happening around me.
No little, every-day parenting choices are really all that bad. Most choices are made out of love and/or necessity. If kids are loved and cared for that’s what matters.
In the mom world I have worn my judgy pants and I have felt judged as well. It used to rattle me a bit at first, as it does many people. I think we all worry we’re doing it wrong and messing up our kids – oh, you know, for life – and then to have someone jump in and advocate that same fear, it doesn’t feel good. It makes you feel insecure and defensive even.
Often online, when someone posts one thing about being proud they breastfeed because breast is best, another person will be angry saying formula is fine too and fed is best. And so begins the mommy war. The back and forth of why they are right and you are wrong. We’re all so passionate about what we believe is best that we sometimes lose sight of what is truly important – loved children who are taken care of by their parents.
I love hearing advice and I will always consider it and give it a fair chance but ultimately, it’s my decision what to do – and it’s yours too. Before I settled into how I want to parent, the feelings of judgement could be overwhelming at times, and – honestly – you can’t win. Depending on who you ask, if you hold your babies too much they’ll be spoiled, but if you let them cry they are killing important brain cells and they will learn to distrust the world and so, you cannot really make everyone happy because many don’t even agree on what is ideal! It’s important to trust your instincts and do your research and do what you think is best for your family – don’t apologize. Someone will always think you’re doing it wrong, but if you’re acting out of love and meeting your child’s needs then you probably really aren’t.
I sometimes find myself feeling passionate about the things I believe are ideal but my mind wanders back to this story and I take a step back again.
We’re all doing the best we can. If at the end of the day your child is loved and cared for you are doing a darn good job.