Before I got into this whole parenting gig four years ago I was sure that people were overstating how complicated it is. I’m not talking about the daily challenges like sleepless nights, battles of wills, testing of patience and, at times, an utter inability to relate. I wasn’t naïve to how hard those would be. What I’m referring to are some hot-button issues that really get parental blood boiling, such as education, vaccines (although that should be less hot now.), breast feeding, corporal punishment and Santa Claus.
It’s not that I was unaware these were contentious issues, it’s just that I was confident in my opinion on each (as ignorant as that sounds now). I assumed that my wife and I could just make our choices, everyone else could make theirs and we’d all pat ourselves on the back and sing Kumbaya . Boy was I wrong. I completely underestimated a parent’s ability (including my own) to antagonize and belittle others, even if done unintentionally or subconsciously.
Parents have opinions. Passionate ones. And most of them want other parents to agree with theirs. I really don’t know why that is, but my theory is that we know the gravity of the task ahead of us and we want validation that we’re doing it right.
We should definitely have our convictions about all of these issues. What kind of parents would we be if we didn’t? We’ll almost certainly take the public school route. He has received all of the scheduled and recommended vaccines and will continue to do so. He was not breastfed for the most part. We will never spank him. He believes in Santa Claus. I’m also in favor of discussing all of these issues with as many people as possible in order to understand other points of view and even change my mind if warranted. We cannot, however, allow those discussions to turn into harsh judgments about one another as parents.
Now that I know how difficult this job is, what I refuse to do is criticize others who choose differently on these issues. Unless I see some sort of true neglect or abuse, I’m going to assume that parents who have differing points of view have weighed each as prayerfully, judiciously and soberly as Shannon and I have. This is a damn hard job. We should be helping each other through this gloriously difficult life as a parent rather than looking for ways to prove others wrong.
Filed under: Life