Stop Apologizing for Being Different


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  73 comments   :  21,376 Views

Every day I work hard to be a good mom.  There are days where I’m proud of the job I’ve done, and other days when I’m not.   I think that kind of goes with the territory.  I know I’m not perfect, but I always try to make decisions based on what I think is right for my family.  Some of those decisions aren’t the norm, but instead of being proud of paving my own path, recently I’ve started apologizing for them.  It’s time for me to stop being sorry and start embracing my differences.
My daughter started kindergarten last month, which means I’ve been getting involved at school, going to meetings and introducing myself to other parents in her class.  A few weeks ago, I went to a meeting where moms were chatting about popular meals they serve for dinner.  Most of the foods they were mentioning were things my kids never eat, because admittedly, I’m pretty picky about what we have.  Most of our meals don’t come from a box or fast food drive through, and I try to serve healthy foods as much as possible (leaving room for special treats now and then.)  I stayed quiet through the conversation, because I didn’t want to come off as judging other parents.  Every parent has their own things they focus on, and one of mine happens to be the quality of our food.  When I came to pick my daughter up from a playdate a few days after this, her friend’s mom asked “What does she eat for lunch?” She named a few foods she asked if my daughter would like to eat, and my daughter had never had them before.   Yes, hotdogs are on that list.    
After these two experiences (as well as a few others involving the toys my children have compared to other kids), I felt the need to apologize to them.  “I’m sorry that I’m different than other parents.  I’m sorry I focus a lot on what you eat, and don’t just buy you everything you want the second you ask for it.”  When my husband heard me doing this, he pulled me aside.  “Why would you apologize for doing things for our kids that you feel are going to make them better, healthier people?  Don’t be sorry for that.”  The more I thought about it, the more I knew he was right.  My kids eat plenty of treats, just not all-day, every day.  My kids get new toys and we do lots of fun things together, even if I’m not buying the latest, most expensive gadgets on the market.  I do these things because I think they are right for my family, which is why everyone makes the choices they do.  I just need to get more comfortable in my own skin and not be so self-conscious about it.
The path towards a healthier lifestyle isn’t always the popular choice.  Sometimes you have to turn down seconds at the dinner table, or decide against the rich dessert that everyone else is devouring.  Have you ever felt the need to apologize for that, as if you’re doing something wrong?  Do you apologize to family or friends for making time to work out instead of things others might like you to do?  I think there’s a difference between being selfish, and just saying you’re sorry for making different choices.  In the end, we all have one life to live.  The way you make yours great isn’t going to be the same as everyone else, but that’s okay.  That’s what makes each of us unique.
What do you think?  

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    Instead of saying "I'm sorry for not getting you everything you want the moment you want it" to your kids, I like to say "I love you way too much to let you have that."

    Way to go sticking to your values and doing your best to instill healthy lifestyle choices in your kids! - 10/23/2012   4:57:02 PM
  • DIETER27
    Being different. Well I guess I fit the key on that one. I will not apologize for the way I brought up my boys. We eat healthy foods and when others offer them something they know is not healthy they ask for a healthy alternative. You should not have to apologize to anyone. - 10/23/2012   3:41:05 PM
  • 21
    You should feel proud for being different. We go to fast food places for the play areas they have and when we go home and I start cooking dinner. My kids love fruits and vegetables and they encourage their friends to eat them too. - 10/23/2012   3:11:22 PM
  • 20
    I have to agree that I do this too. I don't have kids, but I apologize for a lot of things that I shouldn't including simply the choices that I believe are best for me. For example, when I need to slow down my friends because they are in better shape than I am and are walking too fast. I try to keep up, but when I feel like I'm going to pass out or hyperventilate, they notice and thus slow down. I apologize for slowing them down and looking like a weirdo, but really, I should be just saying, it was my choice to try to keep up and that I'm doing it for my health. Good for you working on this aspect of accepting your choices for your children. I think you're definitely making the right ones for your family! - 10/23/2012   2:59:52 PM
    Whether its apologizing to a host for turning down dessert, or for feeling badly when I request that any hotel I stay in needs a pool or fitness room, I am right there with you Jen. We should not only feel proud of these types of decisions, we should love it about ourselves that we can be a good role model for others.

    And I don't believe I'm perfect, or that I never make a bad choice. I just need to change my own thoughts to believing in myself when I make good choices.

    This is a great blog topic. Thank you for starting a conversation.
    Judi - 10/23/2012   2:48:51 PM
  • 18
    Don't apologize for being different. We don't really eat fast food much at all in our house. My kids have actually been taken to fast food places by other families and not known what to order. What? You mean you don't know what you want in your happy meal? - 10/23/2012   2:07:47 PM
  • 17
    I try to use the language of values. I tell my children that it is not in my set of values to offer them X or Y toy, that in this house this or that item is a reward for good behaviour, outstanding accomplishments, etc.. When it comes to food, there's just no negotiation. They eat what is put in front of them (though I try not to serve things they despise, there's a limit! If you want it to work you gotta flex a little) and they may get consulted on dinner choices every once in a while. They are generally not too bad, though they do tend to be on the spoiled side with asking for new things and whining when they don't get them. But I'm hopingin time they will learn. At 6 and 3, you can't expect the world! - 10/23/2012   12:40:18 PM
  • 16
    You are making thoughful, mindul choices. Don't apologize, advocate. - 10/23/2012   12:33:32 PM
  • 15
    "Never complain, never explain." Who cares what anybody else thinks? They're not raising your children. - 10/23/2012   12:33:10 PM
  • 14
    I know what you mean when you say that you kept quiet to keep from sounding judge-y. We don't have a TV and it seems like all anyone talks about is what is on television-- when it comes up, I have had to learn to just try to keep my mouth shut (hard for me :) because I am so tired of having to justify myself about it. - 10/23/2012   12:18:22 PM
  • 13
    Did anybody besides me grow up at a time when "eating between meals" was a crime akin to running with scissors? How times have changed. I can't believe the modern obsession with shoving snacks at kids non-stop. Every kid's activity seems to involve snacks, snacks and more snacks. Is it the advertising industry, what? Please don't apologize for using the brain God gave you, just because nobody else seems to be using theirs. Take it from an old lady--the world has gone nuts.
    Apologize for saying, "no, thank you"--why? Maybe I am setting an good example for someone else in the group who is thinking about trying SP and changing their lifestyle as well. - 10/23/2012   11:49:32 AM
  • 12
    Easier to be different--and proud of it--as an adult. Kids so often want to conform. I agree w/ your husband that apologizing isn't necessary...though it IS tempting!

    To some people, putting myself first will always look 'selfish,' but I have to recognize that as mostly their problem.

    Nice blog. - 10/23/2012   10:49:20 AM
  • 11
    Being a parent is tough. It's not always easy or fun to stand up to your kids or others and stick to what you believe is best. But trust me, the pay-off will come, although it may not be for several years. Our two children, now grown, often tell us that they sometimes thought we were the meanest parents ever, but now they appreciate that we stood firm and enforced our rules. Suddenly, we're a lot smarter and a lot less mean than we were about a decade ago. They are both young women that we are very proud of, and it was all worth it. You'll see!!! - 10/23/2012   10:14:09 AM
  • 10
    Our Pastor has a saying "Normal is just a sitting on the washer." Normal can also be boring. ;-) - 10/23/2012   9:48:33 AM
  • GENE1955
    Never apologize to anyone for who you are or what your beliefs are. You are who you are and everyone can be proud of that. - 10/23/2012   9:27:28 AM
  • 8
    Yea you! Sounds like you are on a good healthy road. - 10/23/2012   9:06:21 AM
  • 7
    I do this ALL the time! Seriously, our fair was a week ago, and I found myself apologizing to the BorderBelles lady (they support the beef industry). She offered me some recipes, and my response was, "No thank you. I'm sorry, but I'm vegetarian, we don't eat meat." It's been bugging me ever since then that I apologized for my lifestyle choice! I've got to get out of that habit of disparaging my own choices to make other people feel better about their own. - 10/23/2012   8:37:25 AM
  • 6
    Blessings to your hubby! He's absolutely right! I was different from the "get go" when my kids started kindy because my kiddos are adopted . . . from Korea. So we do not remotely look alike. And I was among the oldest of the Mom's (felt ancient back then . . . not now!) But I never felt like my kids were missing out on anything due to differences. Neither are yours! Rock on. You're doing it right. Absolutely right.

    As for mistakes . . . all I can say is, like everything else we have to take it day-to-day and some days clearly are going to be better than others. But as long as you do your best, that's all you can do.

    My kids were brought up to eat healthy and prefer it that way. DS is 20 and enlisted in the Army. He is stationed in AK right now and his missions ar eto recuperate from his wounding (happened in August) and be as healthy as he can be. He THANKED me for teaching him how to eat healthy! So, my dear, your day will come! My 17 yr. old DD, well . . . she's a little harder "sell" on the heatlhy food" right now, but she still does well. - 10/23/2012   8:28:23 AM
  • RUNGRL2013
    Yes, being African in America, being black in Europe, being international and multicultural in Africa--yes, I know what it's like to be different, to know more diversity and tailor make or design your own life-choices in a way that is not understood by people around you. I've apologized, minimized myself at times to fit in. But real happiness and freedom has come when I've said 'thank God, thank goodness" I'm ok with who I am and thank god that I am able to embrace myself as I am and just enjoy this fantastic life that I have. There are probably others out there who would like to live more like you do but don't know how--by sticking to the choices that you make, you could unknowingly help someone else make changes. Don't apologize--you're doing great for yourself and your children!:) - 10/23/2012   7:18:27 AM
  • 4
    I agree with your husband you shouldn't have to apologize for doing what is right. I so know the feeling. I wish I had started doing this when my kids where a lot younger. I notice some of the same families who do not watch what their kids have also have a higher risk for behavioral problems and learning disorders. I remember growing up finding out that my Aunt died of Cancer. The Doctor mentioned that since her family ate fast food or even just out everyday that increased her risk for the cancer. This was back in the 90's. I applaud what you are doing. - 10/23/2012   7:04:26 AM
  • 3
    "Normal is boring"...that has been my personal and family motto from day one, and we don't care what other people think about us! - 10/23/2012   7:03:02 AM
    Don't back down from your willingness to march to a different beat. There is a lot of pressure to conform as we raise our kids, and a lot of that conforming isn't going to help our kids be happier or better people in the long run.
    Next time give your daughter permission to eat what sounds interesting as new adventure food (unless it is harmful to her, like something she's allergic to). And know that when you host a playdate you get to serve fresh fruit, soup, or a nice sandwich. Whatever is normal for your family. I'm willing to bet that more parents are wishing that their kids would eat the healthy options yours does than are critical because your kid hasn't had hotdogs. (The other mom may have grown concerned that she was feeding your daughter something off limits. Give the other mom a heads up if there are any limitations.) - 10/23/2012   6:57:48 AM
    Being different ? Well mom always say I walked to the tune of a different drummer if that a crime than so be it. We must live with ourself we share our lives and value with others and if we give our families a good strong foundation and keep them from some of our mistakes that wonderful. - 10/23/2012   6:26:15 AM

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