The other day while waiting in line at the store, a preschool-aged child in the other line started having a temper tantrum… he wanted a treat and his mother had said no. After a couple minutes she let him select a treat and the tantrum stopped.
In my mind I thought, “Eeeek – what kind of message is that sending him? Now he thinks every time he has a tantrum he’ll get what he wants.” The twenty-something couple in front of me vocalized my thoughts. Hearing it out loud filled me with guilt. Who am I to judge? Maybe this is the one time this mother took this type of action. Perhaps she needed to do this to get through the shopping trip (or the day) without losing her temper (or her sanity). Then the woman in front of me leaned over to her partner and said, “When I have kids I’ll never do that!”
Do the words sound familiar? Whether you vocalized your sentiments or kept them to yourself, the majority of us have criticized parenting strategies in one form or another. As I’ve shared in the previous example, I am guilty of this too.
As a child care professional I’m very aware of the impact that even the smallest judgments can have on a parent’s self-esteem. Parenting is difficult task in itself let alone having to deal with other’s criticisms and perceptions of your parenting techniques. Why do we criticize? Why don’t we support each other more? Is it a universal trait of humankind to tear others down in order to build ourselves up?
This experience made me think about my own judgments and “lofty” parenting strategies prior to having a child of my own. Here are a few items on my list of things I would NEVER do when I have kids of my own.
I will not let my children watch television or movies until they are at least six years old.
What the hell was I thinking when I made this lofty declaration? Obviously I didn’t know the power of putting in a DVD while stealing a twenty minute shower after being up all night with a fussy baby. Overall, my daughter does not watch any television, but she does watch Mr. Dressup or Milo and Otis every day during her quiet time (a.k.a. mom or dad’s quiet time). We also have a few favourite DVDs that she gets to watch occasionally.
I will not allow multi-media or commercialism dictate what I buy for my child.
Then my husband and I found Yo Gabba Gabba. Before we knew it, we bought every DVD and my daughter owns the plastic play figures. We even took her to the Yo Gabba Gabba Live Show: There’s a Party in My City. We love it, she loves it… enough said.
Bedtime is bedtime. There will be NO flexibility on the time my child goes to bed.
For the most part my daughter has a steady bedtime. However, I must admit when we’re out visiting friends and family, we will often push bedtime back an hour or two. I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided on this unrealistic parenting technique! As if we’re going to pack up our kid at 6:00 pm so that we can get her in bed for 7:00 pm!
My marriage will always come first. My children will come second.
Before I had a child, I envisioned bi-weekly date nights and conversations with my husband that did not revolve around the children. Now that we have a child (and I’m pregnant with another) the “bi-weekly” date nights are more like quarterly date nights and many of our conversations revolve around our child. I see the value in maintaining our own interests and personalities but I also see how when one parent stays home with a child all day, that’s what their world is about and the other parent usually wants to know as much as possible about that world so that they don’t feel left out.
I will never drag my child through a mall or store.
Groceries need to be purchased. Necessities or presents will not be purchased on their own, errands need to be done. There may never be the perfect day to complete mundane chores. Sometimes we have to “drag” our children through these tasks. See my posting, Running Errands With Children, for tips as to how to get through these everyday tasks with a child in tow.
I will NEVER raise my voice with my child.
Although this rarely happens (and when it does I feel exceptionally guilty), I have raised my voice with my daughter. Sometimes the firm tone and louder voice was all I could do in the moment. However, if someone overheard it, I’m sure they would think I’m a horrible parent.
I will play with my child at all times, as much as possible.
I envisioned long, meaningful play episodes, constant art activities and an abundance of stories. This really isn’t necessary. My child needs to also learn about the world without an adult facilitating her every discovery. Plus while she’s happily playing, I get an opportunity to check my e-mail or work on a posting for my blog!
My child will not play with plastic toys.
Okay… I admit it’s a little bit fanatical but I envisioned a play room full of handcrafted, open-ended, wood and fabric toys. However, my daughter discovered DUPLO and all bets were off. Did I mention my daughter owns the Yo Gabba Gabba figurines?
Have you passed judgment on other parents? What did you think you would NEVER do but now you think differently?