Parenting always demands your best because your kids' lives are in your hands. Every small and big decision you make will hone and shape the person your children will become. That's why we listen to child development experts and healthcare professionals because we want to ensure we are doing right by our kids.
Sometimes, however, it slips our mind that each child -- and family -- is unique. What works for one doesn't mean it will work for everyone. And, when we forget, we tend to give unsolicited advice or unwarranted comments that often comes from wanting to help and putting the children first. We overstep -- and judge -- without even being aware of it.
If you've ever entertained these thoughts in your head, be kind and let it remain unsaid. But if you must speak, choose your words carefully.
1. She had an elective C-section, and you think she took the easy way out. A C-section is a medical advancement that allowed moms with complicated pregnancies and deliveries to be able to welcome their baby safely into this world. Doctors will always advocate for natural deliveries unless there is a need for the procedure -- yes, even elective C-sections. Besides, you can't call a procedure "convenient" when the healing period is longer.
2. Breastfeeding is best. Anything less than that makes you a less of a mom. The pressure to breastfeed is partly due to the indisputable studies that prove how beneficial it is not just for the baby, but also for the mother. There is no doubt that breast milk is best. But it comes with challenges, and our fellow moms don't need the added stress that they didn't do enough. After all, giving up nursing even after knowing the trade-offs is never an easy decision -- it is heartbreaking for many. So console her by giving her your support no matter what she decides.
3. She's going back to work, leaving her baby with the grandparents or a yaya. You may frown at a mother who can't automatically drop everything, even her career, for her baby. But, like breastfeeding, it is never a decision made lightly. For many couples, providing their baby's needs requires a two-parent income family. For other women, they find fulfillment in a career as well -- there is nothing wrong with that. You may wonder about balance, but like parenting, every person needs to make her formula.
4. She's not "on top" of her child's education. Remember, your parents probably didn't enroll you in baby programs, and you turned out fine. You know what's more effective? You. Casey Lew-Williams, Ph.D., co-director of the Baby Lab at Princeton University, says playing with mom or dad is much better for baby’s brain development. Babies and kids learn best through play, and if it's with you, you can't go wrong. Focus on finding time for even brief high-quality, loving interactions.
5. She has time for herself, so she must be neglecting her kids. Many times we see other moms and think she's doing everything right, and we're not. Well, guess what? Every mom thinks that way. As mentioned, every family have different circumstances; every child has her own learning style and pace, every parent has her set of priorities. If me-time isn't a priority for you, but you want it to be, work towards that. There's no wrong in asking for help when you need it.
There are may other examples that have moms divided, such as the moment a mom whips out a tablet or smartphone in a restaurant to calm her child, choosing disposable diapers, etc. It all boils down to one thing. There is no one right way to parent.
Author and parenting expert Dr. Michael Grose believe that parents putting pressure on each other are not good not just for the parents but also for the kids. Parents experience peer pressure as well in that they put too much pressure on themselves. "We use other parents as benchmarks. And we’re pretty judgmental," he tells Kids Spot.
Most parents seek recognition that they're doing a good job, but there is no manual to check. "[Doing] a really good job [at parenting] is 'my kid looks good, they’re well fed, and all the rest of it.' They’re terrific markers," said Dr. Grose, but also not always accurate.
"We need to be a bit more forgiving of each other and be a bit more supportive of doing it [parenting] differently," Dr. Grose advises. We're all just trying to do our best in raising our kids.