With everyone posting their lives online, it has become even easier to judge other parents for what you see as their shortcomings and mistakes. Why are they allowing their daughter to perform in a beauty pageant? Why are they getting their son circumcised? Why are they using homemade laundry detergent on their cloth diapers? Don’t they know better? There are so many polarizing issues in parenting. Taking a tiny baby and raising them to be an adult involves many decisions to be made along the way. The fact that we live in a society that allows choice means that there will be many people who choose differently than we do.
When reading through Facebook posts, it is easy to wonder why people made the choices they did, but I have been making an effort to remind myself that they are making the best decision they can for their child. The same information can be interpreted differently by different people, depending on their life experiences and the temperament of their child. In the absence of any evidence that they are deliberately trying to harm their child or just don’t care enough to take proper care of their child, I try to assume the best. Raising your child in the same house as the meth lab you are running is not a decision I think is ok. Deciding to let your child watch the Harry Potter movie at an older or younger age than I would choose for my own child is not a big deal.
People can be completely rude to friends, relatives, and total strangers over their parenting decisions. It seems a bit much to stop someone in public to tell them their child should be dressed warmer, although this has happened to me. Unless there is a real danger of them being harmed by the cold, assume that it is just a parent who has not chosen to fight with their child over wearing a coat because it is not that cold, or that you are elderly and therefore colder than an active young child. If you see someone else’s child gnawing on a grocery cart handle or picking up a piece of candy they dropped on the floor and eating it, don’t feel the need to lecture them on the dangers of germs. There are times in the past when I have wondered what someone was thinking letting their child do something, only to have my child do the same thing a few years later.
Think how much nicer the world would be if we offered each other support instead of judgment. An understanding and sympathetic comment from someone when your child is having a public meltdown is so much nicer than dirty looks or mean comments. If someone posts a question or story on Facebook, don’t feel the need to comment to tell them how wrong they are. The old saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” still applies.
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