As parents it seems there are 2 things most of us are pretty good at, and that is feeling guilty and judging, both ourselves and others. As a parent blogger and family counsellor, there are some things I think we should all be concerned about and some things that we should leave up to the judgement of the individual and their families based on their own values and what it is they see as important to the running of their households.
So for me, these are examples of some of the things that we shouldn’t be so concerned about, the things that within reason the individual has the ability to decide without having to defend or justify:
- Whether you breast or bottle feed your baby
- Whether you co-sleep or control cry
- Whether you have smacked or have success with star charts
- Whether you let your kids watch ‘M’ rated movies or use flash cards from the moment they can see
- Whether you feed them organic, preservative, colour, additive free food or give them take-away twice a week
- Whether you home school or privately educate
- Whether you’re a full time worker or stay at home mum
- Whether you grow your own apples, stew and puree or whether you use tinned fruit
- Whether your kids are outside playing cops and robbers or inside playing computer games.
Now I certainly have opinions on these such things and I may even suggest making alterations to your choices if it is not doing the following things……which to me are the most important elements of parenting, and the things we should all be concerning ourselves with, both as a society and as fellow parents.
I do care about
- Your children being respectful to other people and to you as a parent
- Your children knowing that you are in charge and there are some things that are not negotiable
- Your household, whilst not perfect or stress free, is a place where for the most part there is joy, stability and security
- Your children are valued, loved and cared for unconditionally
- You provide an environment where children are encouraged to be independent, responsible and resilient
- Your children have the boundaries they need and that parents have the skills, and ability to enforce these boundaries on a regular basis.
These are the important aspects of parenting. How you achieve these outcomes can vary greatly, depending on your values, personal principals, ideals and circumstances, but achieving them is not always easy. It is never done perfectly. It is never without its challenges. And sometimes it is not without a little help. Sometimes we all need that extra pair of eyes to help us see more clearly. Being a parent can sometimes render us ‘too close’ to the situation and leave us gasping for a clearer perpective to help us mesh our own personal practicalities with the greater ideals we hold for our children.
There seems to be a lot of discussion, judging and criticising of parents and some of the choices they make, when sometimes we need to be reminded that there is more than one way to effectively parent. Whatever choices you make on a daily basis are exactly that, your choices. As long as those choices allow you to make the bigger picture a possibility, then that is all anyone should be concerned with, both as fellow parents and as a society.