How to Respect Other Parents’ Decisions

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I feel I have grown so much as a person since I became a parent. This should come as no shock to anyone, but I have read a lot on parenting (and on a lot of other random things as well, but that’s besides the point) and pre-kids, I really thought that if you just did the things the parenting experts said, things would turn out perfectly well and we’d all be groovy and have wonderful kids.During this time I really didn’t know how to respect other parents’ decisions and I probably looked down on far too many people.

Hahahahahahahaha. Oh my deluded 20-year-old self. I have since learned that nothing is that easy and that parenting isn’t black and white. There isn’t one right way to parent and there’s no perfect formula for perfect kids.

But I probably owe some apologies to some people for the attitude I had when I thought there was. I feel I have come a long way in learning to let things go and learning that other people are doing the best thing for their children. I am still not perfect at this. The same tendencies of control that I struggle with in parenting make it hard not to want to control other people’s lives as well. And I don’t think I’m alone in this struggle so I’ve included this handy flow chart to help us decide when we should say something to other people about how they are parenting.

How to Respect Other Parents' Decisions

As you can tell, I feel most of the time, it is not okay to say something to someone else on things that are really for them to decide. You don’t know their family situation and you don’t know their kids. They are most likely doing what works for them. Telling a mom who feeds their kid canned vegetables that they are feeding them trash because you only buy fresh organic vegetables does not help anyone. Their kids are not any less loved than yours. Before you say something to someone, think about how it would come across if someone said it to you. This especially goes for passive aggressive comments like, “I feel so sad for that baby having to ride in a stroller.” Why? Is that baby not loved? Does their doing it a different way than you mean they love their baby less? No. How would you feel if someone said they were sad for your baby? It would probably upset you right? Because the implication is that there’s something worth being sad about. These are examples of how not to respect other parents’ decisions. If you do chose to say something, you can find a nice way to say it. People’s minds are rarely changed when they feel like you are attacking them and making someone feel like a terrible parent is definitely a way to make them feel like you are attacking them.

We would all be better off if we were able to extend more compassion and understanding to the other parents around us. This is a good example to set for our children and it will help to foster a greater sense of community among parents. In the words of Elsa, “Let it go.” It’s okay for people to do things differently. Of course, none of this will ever be able to do this perfectly, but I do think we can strive to do better.

Have you ever felt judged by another parent? How did it make you feel? How can you respect other parents’ decisions?

My caveat to this post is that I am talking mainly about things that are a matter of opinion/a difference of style. There are obviously things that are wrong (beating your children is one that springs to mind) but I don’t see most people putting down other people over those things, I more see people putting down other people over petty things that aren’t right/wrong, the gray areas of life. 

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