People, right? By now everyone knows parenting is so, so hard. Every single part of child-rearing is rough. Pregnancy is tough for many, breastfeeding can be torturous at first, and the newborn stage and postpartum feels are often so draining they seem to last forever. Then, we have the terrible twos, the the-answer-is-always-'no' threes, the my-kid-is-suddenly-an-a-hole fours, and oh-my-gosh-is-he-really-going-to-kindergarten fives. But, let's be real, the most difficult part of parenthood is dealing with other people. Because dealing with other people is one of the most difficult parts of life, so why would it be any different in the parenting arena?
I used to think "it takes a village" meant that raising children was so much work that other people needed to be involved and help. It turns out, "it takes a village" means that other people believe they have a say in how you are raising your child and what your child learns. You see, my friends, in school I was always the kid in the group project who wanted to do all the work myself because I knew it would get done. So, when it comes to raising my kids, I want to be the one who does all the work so I know they come out right. That's not too much to ask, right? I mean they are my kids, right? But, it turns out, raising kids in a society is no high school civics project. Turns out, raising kids amongst other people is super difficult because these other people don't exactly care about what parenting style you think works for you. So, sometimes you yield a little.
And when you refuse to yield, as I often do, you fight an eternally difficult uphill battle against all the not-so-wonderful things this world teaches children. You fight against sexism, racism, totally foreign and not at all intuitive parenting philosophies, and various mom labels, so basically every day in parenting is a struggle because of other people. Other people, those who even mean well, are the real struggle of parenting, guys, and here's why:
They Buy Their Kids All The Stuff
"But all the kids have an iPhone, mom!" my daughter whines to me trying to get me to fall in the bandwagon. So, I hit her with the old, "I don't care what everyone else has or is doing, and neither should you." And she grumbles something like "that's not fair" under her breath. And, I take a few minutes to explain to her that we cannot chase other people's possessions and lives.
I use these conversations as teaching moments about the "dangers of 'keeping up with the Joneses,'" but on the inside I'm screaming, "Why does an 8 -ear-old kid need a cell phone?" But, I also realize other kids will always have things that are cooler and newer and fancier than my kids, so this will be a forever issue.
They Give Their Young Kids Access To Social Media
With the cell phones come Instagram and Musical.y and Snapchat. And with Instagram and Musical.y and Snapchat come all sorts of lurking dangers of online predators and harassment. So now, not only does my kid want a cell phone, she also wants to post videos on YouTube and upload her filtered face on Snapchat. Eight-year-old kids need social media as much as they need iPhones. And I realize this social media battle will never cease to exist because I plan on keeping my kid off for as long as humanly possible. But those other people though.
They Raise Sexist Kids
Every family is different and every family has different values, and I respect those different values. Unless those values are sexist and then, well, I no longer care to listen. So, when my daughter comes home and says something like, "[Redacted] told me girls aren't smart and that only boys can play football," I want to have a serious conversation with some parents. But, I can't. Even if I teach my kid differently at home, I cannot control what other people teach their kids. So I just have to be more diligent at home, talk to my kids more, and tell them about how to properly process what other people say.
They Breed Hate
Some people are just mean, right? I mean, I'm the eternal optimist (according to my friends, anyway) but some people just don't understand the idea of being good and kind. So, while I'm over here trying to raise decent human beings, other people keep throwing a wrench into my plan by, oh I don't know, teaching their kids that it's OK to draw swastikas on the side of the school bus or by telling their kids certain races are superior to others.
They Are So Judgmental
As much as parents like to say they don't care what other people think about them or their parenting, I'm sure they care just a little bit. It doesn't feel great knowing other people are judging the choices you believe are best for your kids. And while I don't particularly care what others say, it's still annoying that everyone and their great-aunt Sally has an opinion on my parenting. I'm obviously going to keep doing what I think works for my family, but I do wish people minded their own business a bit more.
You Aren't The Only Influence In Your Child's Life
If it were solely up to me, my kids would be raised without stereotypes, hate, sexism, and so many other things I just cannot get wrap my head around. But, unfortunately, I am not the only influence in my kids' lives, and I guess in some ways that's good, but it still makes it difficult to do my parenting thing.
They Don't Vaccinate
That's right. Some people willingly choose not to vaccinate their children. Despite the fact that vaccines eradicated potentially deadly and/or crippling diseases, and despite overwhelming evidence of vaccine safety and efficacy, parents, with absolutely no medical background or education, are simply choosing to defy the recommendation of practically the entire medical community.
So, here I am, trying to keep my kid disease-free while some parents are putting my kids in danger because, despite being "well-researched," they cannot comprehend the concept of herd immunity.
Sometimes They Are Right & You Have To Admit It
Sometimes, no matter how much you try to resist it, other people can be right. I know, it's a difficult pill to swallow. But there have been a few times when my friends, for example, mentioned something that made me rethink how I was approaching something in my parenting. Those times, I reevaluated my position and changed my outlook. So I guess other people aren't always terrible.
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