Every now and then, someone feels the need to point out a particular parenting technique or decision, only to tell me how wrong it is. Fun, right? It's usually when I'm already frustrated, doing my very best to just, you know, parent. As if, "Well, if you try it this way..." will magically breathe new life into me. News flash: it doesn't. So, since those particular people seem to have some extra time on their hands, I want to talk about things you can do instead of giving a mom a hard time for how she's raising her kids. My suggestions might not be as rewarding as, say, leveling a frazzled mother's confidence in anything she's doing, but I think all of the below will be better worth your time. Trust.
I know I'm not a perfect parent (by any means) but once I resurrected myself from the ashes of postpartum depression (PPD) and found my footing, I'd like to think I'm was doing (and am continuing to do) an OK job of raising my children. At ages 5 and 10, they're (mostly) well-adjusted, intelligent, compassionate kids, so regardless of your opinion on their early bedtimes or why I choose to utilize time outs and privilege restriction over other punishment methods, I'll rarely change what I'm doing just because you point it out.
Even a well-meaning, well-intentioned comment doesn't always come across as such. In fact, it can actually interfere with me doing what I think is best. There's just so many other ways to be constructive in society, don't you think? With that said, here's some ways you can re-center that energy into something worthwhile and positive.
Get A Hobby
I know critiquing me, or any other mother, is tons of fun (look at all the mistakes you have to choose from!) but there has to be something else —like a cool new hobby — you might enjoy more. Tap dancing? Origami? Journaling all your opinions into one giant catalog for future reference when you need to say, "See, I told you so?"
For the sake of all mothers doing their best, please take more stock in something that doesn't affect us.
Use Praise Instead
It sounds counter-intuitive to do the opposite of what you want to do, but if you refrain from saying every last thought that crosses your mind, it might benefit someone other than you. Plus, a little praise goes a long way.
Read Up On Amazing Women You Should Already Know About
It's still Women's History Month, which means there's a lot of reading you can catch up on. Read about feminism, women's suffrage, and all the pioneers who've paved the way for freedoms we enjoy today. Enjoy essays from celebrated women or a lone article about how a heroic grandmother inspired this mother to find her voice.
It doesn't matter what you choose, so long as it's not about tearing that mother down for the way she's raising her kids.
Sing To Yourself
Those opinions are hard to restrain sometimes, huh? Hey, I get it. Take this opportunity to hum quietly (to yourself) whatever it was you wanted to tell that mother. It might not be as satisfying but, I assure you, it's for the best.
Make A Sandwich
Mmm. Doesn't a sandwich sound good right about now? Yes. Yes it does. Go ahead and make yourself one. Oh, and please feel free to take your sweet time.
Write Your Senator
There are a million things you could be contacting your representatives a about. Whether it's their proposed cuts to institutions like The National Endowment for the Arts, plans to cut off federal funding to PBS and other services, the proposed American Health Care Act, or any of the other things currently going on in our political climate, you can get active and write a congressman or woman and make your voice heard.
Google Literally Anything
Did you know you can Google whatever you want? Try "is this my business?" and see what comes up. You know, just for fun.
Regardless, take the criticism you have for that mom and Google it. Humble yourself until you see what your search result provides. Find people who agree with you (for your ego's sake), and those who don't (so you can challenge yourself). Either way, take your thoughts to the internet and not a mother who is doing her best.
Phone A Friend
If you can't keep your thoughts to yourself, call someone (just not the person your opinion is directed at). Sometimes you need to vent. I get it. And sometimes we need an outside source to tell us if we're being ridiculous or not. So, go call whoever you want and see if you are, in fact, being ridiculous.
Play With Your Cat
Even if you don't have a cat, doesn't this remind you of another sandwich? Go make another one!
Look In The Mirror
Refrain from speaking your mind unless you're, a) you're perfect and, b) you will always be perfect. It's easy to cast judgement to deflect from our own shortcomings so how about, for now, do a personal inventory on what you can fix with you. Leave the rest.
Bite Your Tongue
One of the hardest things to do is feel a certain way, want to speak up about it, but don't. That self-restraint is good practice for, you know, not being a jerk. It might not satisfy you or your ego in the moment, but it'll be worth it in the end (if only because the mother you'd have unleashed on won't feel attacked).
Basically, no matter what you want to say to a mother raising her kids, resist. Parenting is freaking hard no matter what choices we make and, yes, we're bound to make mistakes. Unless there's something that would put a child in danger, keep it to yourself and let us figure the rest out and on our own. That way, we get to see if our way works without interference and we don't hate you in the process.