I don’t talk a lot about my parenting choices to people I know. In my community, a lot of what I do is plain weird, whether it’s taking them home early from their kindergartens or the way that we eat. Mommy wars have always made me really sad. Parenting is hard enough without constant judging from others.
Parenting can be extremely lonely and this is especially true if your child has any kind of a special need. From Uncle Jim saying that the kid just needs a few good spankings to the your neighbor down the street saying that he should just eat what the other kids are eating already, everyone thinks they know what how you should be parenting your child. The truth is, no one knows your child better than you do. The answer is not always as simple as using “firm discipline.”
Recognize that strong willed children will frustrate you
This is just a fact of life, unfortunate as it may be. We all deal with frustrating situations differently (stay tuned for next week’s podcast!) and it’s pretty well known that high needs children can be a bit more demanding than their neuro-typical counterparts. If you keep this knowledge in front of you. Own it. If you can disconnect from it, you can master it. All parents lose their cool sometimes. When this happens in public or in front of loved ones, it is embarrassing and painful. But own it and move on because no one is perfect.
Connect with others
You’re feeling alone? The other parents at the park have got you down? I have a friend who has harassed at the local park for piercing her newborn baby’s ears. Now, however you can feel about this, you probably will agree that she didn’t abuse her infant and certainly didn’t do anything illegal. She was down about it for a while, but thankfully, she connected with me and other friends. If you’re having a hard time finding friends – it’s actually getting harder and harder in some places – check out clubs and activities with like-minded mothers, www.meetup.com or just write the community here, in the comments!
Those who judge can shove off
Try to remember the absurdity of the judgement of others. Usually, they don’t know what it’s like to have a special needs kid and even if they do, they don’t know what it’s like to parent your child. The only opinions that matter are that of yours and your spouse. Parental scrutiny is generally a matter of insecurity or boredom, two things that you don’t need to worry too much about in others. Especially perfect strangers! It’s too easy to feel like a failure as a parent, I know that I have felt this many times, and my oldest isn’t even 10. These feelings are only going to take precious moments away from being with your kids.
You are the one who knows the truth
Most of the Mommy Wars surround issues like whether or not to co-sleep, how long to breastfeed, when to set curfew. I’m not of the mindset that it’s a good idea to completely poo-poo first world problems, but when these wars flare up, it’s usually within the middle- to upper-class population, whose children are getting their basic needs met, who are loved, who are educated and fed.
You and your spouse are the only ones who know the truth about your family dynamics. You know what works best for your kids, so you can listen to your inner voice and try to ignore the critics. My entrepreneurial hero Pat Flynn, who is wildly successful, discusses how one hater took him away from work for weeks because of his hateful and spammy comments. His story is a true inspiration.
When it comes from within the family
Speaking of family dynamics, I hate to get all 1950’s on you but there are still husbands out there who have a “my way or the highway” mentality, leaving the wife to withdraw. You can be happily married and still feel alone.
Of course, there are terrible parents out there. But these parents, usually abusers, don’t account for the mundane judgments and snark that so many of us have experienced. So if you don’t want to be judged, don’t judge others. I remember having lots and lots of opinions about parenting before I was even a parent. Thankfully, I think (I hope!) I kept a lot of them to myself. Being on the other side now, I understand how difficult (and wonderful!) it is to be a parent.
Here is a great episode of Marie Forleo‘s weekly show. This one is with Dr. Shefali discussing conscious parenting, being true to yourself and teaching your child to be true to himself.
Bookmark this page so that when you feel judged and alone, you can easily come here and know that you aren’t.
How do you deal with feeling judged and alone as a parent? Do you have anything particular that helps you get through this feeling? I would really love to hear about it in the comments below.