What is our definition of a perfect parent? Is it the one who’s house is always clean? The one who’s kids are always wearing the latest fashions? Is it the mother who always follows the advice in the latest medical journals about feeding and sleeping and discipline? Or maybe it’s the parent who makes sure that there are always homemade three-course meals on the table at dinner-time every night?
If you can do all the things I listed and stay sane, my hats off to you. But if these are the marks of a perfect parent than I am striking out on all counts. My house is always messy and never spotless. I’m the stay-at-home Mom who sometimes just doesn’t feel like doing anything but watching TV or playing video games during the day while her kids are in school. I’m the Mom who occasionally just doesn’t have the energy to stand over a stove for hours and make a big meal so we have peanut butter and jelly for dinner. I’m the Mom who spends all her time at home in her pajamas because what’s the point of getting dressed if you’re not going anywhere? My kids wear hand-me-downs and they sometimes have holes in their shoes.
My son is circumcised, we didn’t co-sleep, I bottle-fed all three of my kids without a single thought to breast-feeding, we let our kids cry it out, I don’t spank them, they’re up to date on all their vaccines and have been since they were born and we eat a lot of processed food. In short, I don’t meet a lot of people’s definition of a perfect parent and I’m okay with that. You know why? Because my kids are happy and they are healthy and the decisions that I’ve made for my kids were the right ones for us.
So often these days we parents are hit with advice from well-meaning relatives and complete strangers alike. Everyone has an opinion on how you should be raising your kids and other parents are our worst critics. There is so much pressure on us right out of the gate to meet societies standards for “perfect parenting.”
Is breast-feeding best for babies? Probably but it’s not an option for everyone so cut out the blame and laying of guilt. Are fresh foods better than processed? Undoubtedly but sometimes we just don’t feel like whipping up a masterpiece. Is natural medicine better for kids than over the counter stuff? Perhaps but a lot of people (like me) are okay with their chemicals. Are organic foods better for you and your kids? Maybe but I can tell you that organic’s a lot more expensive and therefore not always a viable option.
There are so many ways to be a perfect parent and, in the end, I think that the perfect parent is one that takes all that outside advice with a grain of salt and does what’s best for their family. Because nobody knows your family the way you do and nobody is better equipped to make those choices than you. None of us got an instruction manual when our kids were born. We’re all just trying to do the best we can with the information we’re given. So instead of tearing each other down because we don’t agree with the decisions others are making let’s try to build each other up.
Let’s stop being each other’s biggest critics and start being each other’s biggest supporters.