Maybe Your Way Isn't Always the Best Way

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I often joke about the negative things motherhood has brought to my life- lack of sleep, no free time, an acceleration of the aging process, etc.  The truth is, motherhood has brought an innumerable amount of positive things to my life.  In addition to the great things about my kids, becoming a mom has developed a more compassionate and non-judgmental side to my personality that I might not have had otherwise.  Instead of being annoyed or just walking past the mom with the screaming baby in the grocery store, I’m much more likely to ask if there’s anything I can do to help.  When I see someone with a different parenting style than mine, I try hard to understand and be respectful of the fact that we aren’t all the same, instead of automatically assuming what they are doing is wrong. 
I think part of my hesitation to judge others, especially other moms, comes from the fact that my own parenting and lifestyle choices have been judged by family and friends.  And honestly, it doesn’t feel good.  I had a conversation with my mom the other day regarding the recent Time magazine cover, featuring a mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old.  My mom had very strong feelings about it, but my position was more neutral.  A decision like that might not be the best thing for me and my child, but I’m not going to judge someone who chooses something different.  (By the way, the intention of this blog is not to start a debate about the acceptable amount of time to breastfeed.)       
I’ve had others question a variety of decisions I’ve made, from how much weight I gained during my pregnancy to what I feed my kids, to how I discipline them.  The interesting thing is that it’s mostly been moms who do it, less out of concern, but more because I’m doing something different than how they’d recommend.  I would think that every mom has experienced this at one time or another, so moms should be the most sensitive to this kind of criticism.  Yet that doesn’t seem to be the case.  My feeling is that unless a child is in danger (which definitely isn’t the case in my situation), most parents know their kids better than anyone else.  They are trying to do a good job of raising them and making the decisions they think are best.  It’s fine to offer feedback when asked, but be careful about telling someone they aren’t doing something right just because it’s different.
I think this lesson can apply in many aspects of life, not just parenting.  Our society tends to judge anyone who is different for whatever reason:  because of their size, religion, income level, political views -- the list goes on and on.  I know it sounds a little idealistic, but I think it would be nice if we could learn to understand and accept differences instead of always assuming our way is the best way.
What do you think?

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BLONDWUNN 10/16/2017
Such a thoughtful understanding of interactions with others. When we judge we are so missing the beautiful value the other folks have to offer. Better to ENCOURAGE and point out all the good things we can catch mommies and daddies doing. Report
MARTHA324 10/16/2017
So true. With the political climate I am way too quick to negatively judge any who voted for Trump....... Report
MOMMAGINI 10/16/2017
People should take a breath and recognize that "the right way" is different for every parent/child combination. My oldest could be disciplined with a look (and he is the one who became suicidal as a teen and dropped out of college). My youngest did not comprehend non-verbal or even verbal discipline AT ALL. He was IMPOSSIBLE - disobedient, running into unsafe situations, throwing tantrums, etc. - until, at around age three, I tapped his diapered butt just one time. The look of understanding on his little face was like the sun rising - suddenly he GOT it. I only had to use this tool for a couple of years, and there were no "beatings" or even serious spankings - just a tap on the butt (usually while holding his arm to make sure he didn't fall down) to let him know I was serious. That child was a joyful teen, athlete, and is successfully finishing college this year.

In short - same mom raising two kids had to do it very differently the second time around - "right" totally changed. Report
Used to be very convinced that my way was the right way and now realize that one size doesn't fit all. Do what works for you and don't impose yourself on others. Report
I so totally agree with you. I have also learned patience raising my 5 children - and now that they are all adults, and all taking care of themselves, I believe I made the right choices. But even as adults, I feel that occasionally I need to ask of them "are you SURE?" if it's a decision I don't really agree with. Most times they can answer yes, and tell me why. Then it's my place to let them be who they need to be. And yes, mother's know our own children and their abilities better than ANYONE. When my youngest daughter was a freshman in high school she rode the bus to and from school. We live on a very busy road (she was 3 when we moved her and lesson #1 was respect for the road). I wanted her to take the bus home from school which would drop her off in front of our home but across the road on the frontage road. The BUS company said no - they wanted her to take a bus that would drop her off about 2 blocks from our home so she had to walk on another busy road to get home. I KNEW she could cross the road, I was pretty sure that she would have a problem on the other bus route. They refused to allow me the right to even sign a release - so I bought a used car and had her older sister drive to and from school every day. To this day (she is turning 36 this week) it makes me angry that a Bus Company could make such an important decision for MY child! Report
very well said, I couldn't agree more. The world would certainly be a lot nicer if there was more acceptance instead of judgment. Report
I am so happy I've been a single mom since the birth of my son, and that my parents were too old to meddle. I could make my own choices without a partner to question them; most of my friends share the same views on parenthood. Yes, sometimes I judged other parents, especially when they punished their kids either verbally or physically. I'm certainly not a perfect, but a good enough mother. My son's grown up now and I'm proud of the nice, healthy, and bright young man he has become. Report
I grew up with the phrase "There's a hundred different ways to skin a cat" as well as "There's lots of different ways to get from Point A to point B" and each time I see something that I don't necessarily agree with or like I try to remember that phrase. I find myself using it with my children as well and I think it's a great phrase to live by. If only more people could do this the world would probably be a much better place. Report
When my kids were small I always thought that I was raising my kids the best way. Now that they are older teenagers I realize that all the preaching and prepping that education was one of the most important things, helping others and being respectful of other peoples feelings...those are the values I wanted to pass on. But in reality kids only accept what values THEY want. My oldest failed grade 12 because she decided to move out with her boyfriend at 17..not a thing I could do. Now when I see someone not pushing the ideas that I thought were important I don't think that they are wrong..there is no wrong way to parent in today's world..unless it's abuse or neglect. Once kids hit the school systems and begin hanging out with the friends they chose our influence becomes almost nonexistent. All you can do is stick to YOUR values and hope in the end something will stick with them. Report
I read a quote recently that said, "The next time your core beliefs are challenged--try being curious instead of furious." By keeping an open mind, we just might learn something new. Report
I agree that we should not be hasty with criticism or condemnation when a parent is using whatever training method they choose for their children; however, I don't appreciate having to watch or listen to tantrums while I'm out with my husband or family. We've raised 7 children and taken them out to eat in restaurants from an early age and the kind of misbehavior mentioned by one poster was never acceptable! Restaurants, department stores, grocery stores, etc. are NOT your child's playground and they should not be allowed to run, climb, or crawl all over the place. Children have to be taught respect, boundaries, good manners and acceptable social behavior--it doesn't just happen. I never mind the parents who are clearly trying but it's hard to take the ones who simply ignore their children's behavior and expect other people to deal the mess they make. Report
Most parents try to parent to the best of their ability and God gave you those kids and He knows what He is doing. So if anyone tries to give you advice say Thank you, and keep on doing things your way anyway, unless you like their advice and thinks it has some merit. Report
I personally think you can learn something from everyone. I already brought up my children and now they are raising their own families. Each child is bringing their children up somewhat differently than the way they were brought up. probably trying to do better than their parents! I do child care for a living and I learn new things about parenting all the time and I find it very rewarding. I wish I had implemented some of the things I've learned from other parents in bringing up my own children. Report
I hadn't thought about this topic for many years, since my children are well-grown, until the last couple of months. A family-group moved in next door, and their young child literally screams at all hours of the day AND night.

At first, my inner Mom-who-successfully raised-five-kids to adulthood (and Mimaw who's helping to raise a wonderful granddaughter) had ALL kinds of "advice" to dispense... but then I started to REALLY listen.

Their exchanges are clearly heard - a curse of urban city life - but that also makes it clear the adults are very patient with the girl, and are trying to firmly but kindly deal with her. I realized they're coping with issues I never had.

Now, when it's 2am or 4am or whenever, and she starts screaming and yelling in a frantic tantrum - while I still listen to ensure the safety of the situation - I have nothing but sympathy for BOTH the child and adults.

Thanks for the blog - it's a good reminder! : )

This is to BAMAJAMA about the amber beads. My step daughter has this necklace and my granddaughter wore it while she was teething and now my grandson is wearing it for teething. My daughter says it is to ease the pain of teething and to soothe the child. I am not sure how this would work but she is into natural and organic everything. Back when I had babys we used Paragoric on their gums. lol I don't think you can even buy it now. Report
not having any human kids, i am hesitant about speaking my view to a parent. i definitely have my opinions and POV. however, since i have not been in the same situation, i am not going to give any advice unless i am asked to by the parent. the time cover, i won't comment on (even though i have an opinion that isn't nice). Report
What a great reminder to me as a grandmother. I sometimes like the way one daughter is doing it better than another daughter, and I can become very critical of their parenting styles. Thank you so much for a well-written article that just happened to be very convicting to me. Report
Yes, frequently folk are too likely to jump in and judge, without knowing anything whatsoever about the circumstances.
On the other hand, many folk who care and would like to help - they are now put off from making any comment, because they get snapped at or bad-mouthed by the person they would like to try to give some positive support to!

Yes it is easy to criticise, where we really have no right even to comment.
But it is also way too easy to react to a question or comment totally inappropriately?
Some learning, thinking, realisation is needed on both sides of the equation. Report
I agree with most everyone here who says "fight the power"! If your kids are happy and healthy, and YOU are happy and healthy then everyone's doing the right thing for your family. I'll fully admit that before I had my son, I was one of those people who would give the hairy eyeball to parents who would "ignore" a meltdown in a store -- I just didn't understand that there are so many different ways to handle that situation depending on the kid and the circumstances, and that trying to control it in the moment can just make matters worse! Ultimately, as a parent, I think you just have to take whatever constructive criticism you can glean, and let go of the rest, especially if the critics have never raised a child or done whatever it is they're being critical about. I know in my heart what's best and if I'm floundering, believe me, I'll ask for help! Report
Great blog!
Being critical and judgemental toward others seems to be growing way too common. It's seldom polite, and often loud and confrontational.
Of course, when I was young, I knew everything, and had many strong opinions.
Fortunately, with age comes wisdom, and like many other seniors, I have developed extreme open-mindedness!
All you parents, just keep doing what you feel is probably is ! Report
I understand the frustration, I'm only a godmother and right now trying to keep my mouth shut is hard. Me and my best friend definitely have different ideas of what's okay. When the girls were little I thought she was the parenting goddess, now I worry about what's going to happen to the oldest. Barely 14 and her facebook picture is all boobs and she's got holes in her ears that you normally don't see that big until you're in college. It's a bit gross and offensive and I don't like the way she's not even in high school and boys can't do anything but comment on her boobs on FB. So how DO you keep your mouth shut? I guess you just do. It kills me that her mom knows too:( Very different idea indeed, no 14 year old of mine will EVER run around looking like that. Report
parenting is tough enough as it is. can't worry what other people think. Report
What a great blog! Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if ppl would just butt OUT of everyone else's business and deal with their own? I get so tired of ppl jumping to correct anyone who is different than themselves!! Report
The issue I had with the Time magazine cover was that it was such an inaccurate, sexualized picture designed to stir up controversy. It wasn't a sleepy three-year-old at bedtime with a mom in her robe and the kid in his jammies on her lap. But, that wouldn't have gotten a huge amount of publicity and sold more magazines.

And--a bit more on topic--it's very rare that I'll attempt to intervene in a family's dynamics. When I was a mandated reporter, I reported two cases of child abuse. Other than that, in the last 21+ years, I confronted one mother when she lost control in a restaurant and was slapping her very young daughter's hand repeatedly--not swats, but hard and for such long time that she didn't seem inclined to ever stop.

All in all, I think it's hard enough to raise one's own child, much less try to raise everyone else's.

Also, despite the risk of West Nile virus, I'd be more concerned about a totally covered child getting vitamin D deficiency than an infected insect. However, knowing how uncomfortable insect bites are, I'd be inclined to use a natural insect repellent. Either way, though, I'd be most likely to assume the parent weighed the option and made what they thought was the best decision for their child. Report
I think with age (and wisdom) one comes to realize that what works for one person doesn't always work for someone else. I'm finding this out firsthand in dealing with my two sisters on two very hot topics--divorce and dealing with an aging parent.

I'm learning to just keep my mouth shut. I'm not the one walking in either of their shoes, so I can only speak on what I think would work for me.

Believe me--keeping quiet is WAY harder than expressing an opinion or passing judgement! Report
It is up to the parents to make the decision right for them. My mother in law tried to tell me I was doing things wrong (just not her way) when my daughter was born. I stuck to my guns and said respectfully that I was choosing another way. She was disappointed but ultimately accepted our decisions. My husband has also been very supportive and a believer in the fact that it is the parents right to parent how they see fit. Report
I agree. I think the key is that we're all doing the best we can. Maybe it's not good enough to you, but then you'll find someone else in the room with the opposite view. Be gentle with each other!! Report
I love your thoughts - thank you. You make me see a great perspective on the issue. Report
PS.... Moms, have you heard about "necklaces" for toddlers that are supposed to be worn as calming beads? I have seen two little boys, both age one, wearing beaded necklaces. The beads are amber color. What is the scoop on this new practice? I am indeed curious about this. It seems "off the wall" to me, but maybe "experts" have a very logical explanation. (???) Thanks! Report
I'm with you. You just can't judge too much. My first baby had jaundice and had to be under a light for a week with blood tests every day. You can imagine my unhappiness to see yellow arms and legs on my second baby. But the doctor said that we could probably take care of the problem if I would take him out and get him some sunlight for 10 minutes a few times a day. He neglected to tell me not to do it in public. Sure enough, I was told off by a stranger for having my baby out in the sun. Report
Not being critical of modern moms, but I get somewhat amused when I think of the women of my grandmother's day who raised children (successfully) without all the conveniences, devices, contraptions etc etc---yet the modern moms seem to be "stressed" by the present day parenting job. It is indeed a job. My grandmother was widowed with eight children, one on the way. ALL of the children became upstanding, wonderful citizens. My mom (a twin) was the best! She had the patience of a saint, and lived a life of devotion to her family.
When I raised my own children, breastfeeding was not in "style" but I did it anyway. Now this method is in vogue.
Every mom should parent her way--- hopefully the children will learn to be civilized and respectful. (smile) Report
I think that everybody harbors a little insecurity about the way they are parenting. Afterall it IS the most important thing you will ever do and no one gets much training on how to do it well. I think the misguided advice that moms get by everyone under the sun is just one insecure parent trying to get validation for the way they parented. If you did it differently then you must be the one that did it wrong.

I'm just glad that my kids are bringing my grandchildren perfectly. My daughter in law does everything right and my grandkids are turning out perfect. Report
Gosh, I thought I did good to make it 12 months with one daughter. I don't think I could have done it longer....especially with 5 other children wanting attention. But I agree that it is up to the individual, not to society. Why Time decided to "shock" society is again....up to the individual. Report
I am not a parent, I see things that I think is inappropriate in my view, but I'm not the parent, they are, so I don't have a right to say anything. Besides, even if I am a parent, I'll do what works for me.

I had a mpother who had a kid who was misbehaving, he was mad he wasn't gettinf what he wanted, she did tell him no, he can't have it. He got mad, threw a temper tantum then smacked her butt. I did not appreciated seeing that. I was in the middle of ringing through her order (I'm a cashier for a convience store). It would have been nice if she pulled him off to the side to punsih him (I would have cancelled the order and go from there to see how to proceed with her items), but she just took it, paid and left. The person behind also thought the same as me, but we knew we weren't that parent and don't have a right to comment on how she parents, we don't know the whole story as to why he did that. Report
we have people take a written & practical test to get a license to drive but no education on being a parent...there is no solution to this issue Report
Unfortunately, in some cases, those of us choose a more traditional approach have to deal with the residuals of those who do not. I beleive there are some standards that need to be used. My daughter-in-law permits her children to climb and stand on the furniture: this is NOT permited in my home. She allows her children to "fight it out" stating that when someone gets hurt they will stop. I do not permit this behavior either. A new mother, a visitor not a friend, exposed herself in my common room to feed her infant; I handed her a small blanket, she handed me a dumb look. I explained that public nudity was not permited in our home. She told me, "I'm feeding my kid." I politely suggested she make herself private in the bathroom or in her vehicle. She refused. I asked her to leave my home. She might have been comfortable with exposing her breast, but certain members of my family were not. We need to respect our differences and adjust our activities accordingly. Report
I couldn't agree more with this. My own boyfriend judges the way I raise my kids. He was raised very old school, where you clean your plate and aren't allowed to express yourself. I was raised the opposite way, which was much more laid back. I definitely push back on him and let him know that I choose to raise my kids in a much more laid back way. The bottom line though is that it's because we both love the kids and want what's best for them, so that's not a bad thing at all! :) Report
You've hit the nail right on the head with this article. I have 3 kiddos: 12, 8, and 4 years old. No one knows them and loves them like Momma!! :-) Report
Well written and well expressed. I applaud you for standing up for what you believe. God Bless you Report
Well written and well expressed. I applaud you for standing up for what you believe. God Bless you Report
Regarding your position on the Time magazine cover vis a vis your mom's position: your 'neutral' position (presumably NOT making a judgment) IS a judgment!

People are always going to judge and discriminate. They're not terrible for doing so; it's a natural response to the life around them. Report
As a parent who has also been a single parent for a while, I try to not judge other people's parenting styles. However, I do get extremely annoyed with people who allow their children to squeal, scream and/or run free in places where it is inappropriate - like a restaurant or store - these are not the playground. My husband and I taught our daughters that screaming is only to be used when one is in danger or hurt - our oldest teaches the same to her gymnastics students now. Report
Follow your won't let you down. And keep doing the next right thing. This is what I learned the past 62 yrs.....through all of life's challenges. Big hug! Report
While I think there are some people who just can't hellp but think there way is the only way and feel a need to point this out to evryone they meet. I also think us mums are too sensitive. I love talking about my children and how I parent is a big part of that. My husband is the same and he recently upset some friends of ours with a new baby over co-sleeping, he wasn't trying to give advice rather he just started purging all the problems we had with sleep with our two litttle ones (which are still going on). They took it as though he was lecturing them and got annoyed. After I pointed out that they were probably as sleep deprived as us and not to take their moodiness as personal he phoned and made up. But the point is sometimes someone talking about how they parent different is just looking for an outlet and it is probably a good idea if we all start listening to one another. We may pick up some handy tips. Report
I remember when I was pregnant 22 years ago, I gained 60 pounds. I was very fit at the time (in the military) and was very healthy during the pregnancy. I suffered from too much amniotic fluid -- but delivered a healthy 11-pound baby!! The next day I weighed myself and was only 11 pounds overweight!! The number of people who judged me for "letting myself go" had egg on their face when they saw the size of that baby! All in all, I knew I was doing what was recommended, I knew that I was doing what was right for my body and my baby, and in the end, I let it roll off my back. I took great joy in delivering a baby so big, that doctors from all specialities in the hospital came down to see him in his bassinet (he took up ALL the space in it!) So I understand how it feels to be wrongly judged.

It can be somewhat rude to interfere with others' parenting skills, especially when there's no evidence or no net gain in doing so or when the advice giver is really just using the opportunity to feel superior to another parent; however, when we perceive danger, it may be better safe than sorry. How many times have we seen the videos on TV with a fake child abduction and everyone just walks by? If it takes a village to raise a child, it could certainly be helpful to hear more ideas. In the end, it's still our own responsibility to choose the right thing and live with the consequences of our choices. It would be great if we lived in a world where people trusted each other and had each other's best interests at heart... Report
I agree wholeheartedly ! You know your child better than anyone else does. Report
I have been fortunate in having family and friends who offer advice only when asked, and who are able to see the merits in things I do differently from them. Unfortunately, others aren't as considerate, particularly when it comes to my son, who has Asperger's. I appreciate that your methods work for your child, but they don't necessarily work for him. I often tell people that my children, particularly my son, have given me a level of patience and understanding for others that I never would have achieved without them. Report
Quite a few years ago (my 'baby' is nearly 18), I had just finished grocery shopping with a toddler, a 4-year old, and a 6 year old, who were bickering with each other in the grocery line. I was ignoring the misbehavior, trying to get the shopping finished without a major meltdown . The 'lady' behind me in line commented on my lack of parenting skills and how she would have handled the situation. After reminding her that she knew very little about my parenting skills, probably not as bluntly as I should have, I went home, devastated. I vowed on that day to never make any judgments as to someone's life based on the snapshot I see in what may be a bad moment. I hope never to make someone feel the way that woman made me feel on that day. Report
The biggest critics I have are my unmarried, childless brothers who are quite sure they know everything about everything. I try to let it go in one ear and out the other! Report
I waited so long for my little one. I went years writing off the idea of having my own. I have not seen any negative aspects of parent hood. I always think of what the alternative is... And I can not fathom it. That attitude has given me tremendous patience. Report
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