Monday 26 May 2014

Parenting For Company: It's Different!

Have you ever been treated to a lecture about your parenting?  I have!  Aren't they terrific?   I swear just hearing the words "I know it's none of my business but..." is enough to send me into a frenzy of anticipation over what I am about to hear because it can ONLY BE AWESOME!!!

You'd think that in this day and age people would know better than to offer unsolicited criticisms of your parenting.

They don't.

Hearing this kind of bullshit friendly advice is only marred by the fact that I know how far off the mark they actually are.  Because the truth is that unless this person lives in my home and cares for my children they really can't know what kind of parent I am.

Generally speaking, when you are on the receiving end of a parenting lecture the person delivering it is someone you know very well like a family member or a friend.  They feel compelled to speak to you after keeping their mouths shut for so long.  They are trying to help you because it is so obvious to everyone but you that you are doing everything wrong.

They feel confident in their right-ness in telling you how wrong you are "because," they will say, "it's been like this every time we visit."

So I would like to explain to all the Well Meaning Dispensers of Wisdom out there on behalf of all us Terrible Parents, why you are wrong.  Dead Wrong.

I, and I suspect the majority of parents, parent my kids differently when I am around company.  I do it differently, but I also do it consistently.

Parenting, when done right, is difficult and time-consuming and complicated.  My kids fight just about every ten minutes.  They fight over toys.  They fight over the best spot on the couch.  They fight over breathing the same air.  When you are not here I would deal with the fighting by first, trying to ignore it in the hopes they will resolve the issue on their own.  If I paid attention to every fight they have I wouldn't be able to get anything else done so I will only interfere if I hear repeated crying or some kind of physical altercation.

At that point I sit them down and cross examine them.  Then I have to play detective to figure out which one's version is closest to the actual truth.  Then I have to come up with some kind of appropriate consequence to help them learn to get along better.  Then I have to oversee that the consequence is being carried out.

Does that sound like a lot to you?  Imagine having to go through this roughly half a dozen times in a three hour period.  Wash.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Do you really think they are going to put their fighting on hold just because I am trying to have a visit with you?


But when I am with you Wise Friend, it is my wish to enjoy your company and conversation.  As a result I am naturally anxious to put the kibosh on any unpleasantness brewing between my kids so as to maximize the pleasantness of our visit.

And so I will jump on them the moment I hear even a whisper of dischord when I would otherwise try to ignore it.  Because I promise you no one wants to listen to them loudly bicker, whine and scream at each other while they sort their shit out.  I will resolve the issue quickly by placing the blame on whichever child is statistically to be most likely at fault and then issuing a quick and easy to enforce, all-purpose consequence.

If it's the first fight during our visit you may have to watch me go on about it a little too long to my kids because I am hoping that I if I lay down the law then and there I might not have to deal with them for the rest of the visit.  A little naive, I know, but believe it or not that sometimes works.

None of this is what I would call top-notch parenting.  At best it is merely unfair.  Sometimes I make a mistake and blame the wrong child (which will happen anyway no matter how good your parenting is).  At worst it would only serve to damage their relationship even further thus causing more fighting.  I already know this just like I know my kids way better than you do.

So understand that when you see me engaging in shoddy parenting it just means that I am putting my concern for their self-esteem and well-being on hold for a few hours out of consideration for YOU.  Because I am trying to enjoy the time we have together.

It is completely unfair to hear the things you imply in your well meaning lecture.  You imply that I favour one child over the other.  You imply that I am making things worse between my kids.  You imply that you have no faith in my ability to raise my own children without your interference.  Do you realize how much you cross the line here?

With all due respect you are just not there to see me being awesome at what I do.  You're not there with me through the parenting classes and meetings with social workers.  You're not there with me through the meetings with concerned teachers.  You're not there with me and my husband as we discuss parenting strategies together.  You're not there with me when I'm talking my kids through problem solving strategies so they can learn to resolve conflict on their own.

Quite frankly, you have no idea what you are talking about.

But since you have decided against your own better judgment to offer me advice I would like to return the favour.

The next time you hear yourself saying the words "I know it's none of my business but..." JUST STOP TALKING.


Nothing good ever came of anything said after those words.  And it really isn't any of your business so you can relax and just learn to trust me when I say I've got this parenting thing.  As soon as you go home I will be all over it.

1 comment:

  1. I rather want to print this out and tape it to my door for people to read before they come into my house.