Do you find yourself justifying your parenting decisions to friends and family? See how one twin mom handles defending her different parenting.
Children do not come with owner manuals. You can have multiple children from the same DNA strands, yet each child needs different parenting styles. And yet, as a parent of multiples,
I am often defending my way of parenting!
A few months back, I had a rant moment with a co-worker about my husband voluntarily changing his work schedule. This schedule change will make my home life harder and also take away my ability to find “me time”. By “me time” I mean monthly chiropractic appointments, semi-annual doctor appointments, dentist appointments, haircuts. You know, things that help me feel physically and emotionally better.
My co-worker, who has 2 children, ages 15 years and 18 years, was completely disgusted with me. When her kids were young, she just took them with her to all her appointments!
I instantly became defensive of my different parenting style, explaining that kids are discouraged at the chiropractor’s office and my hair-stylist has asked for kids to be left at home. And I stand by my choice to not take perfectly healthy children into a doctor’s office (you know, the place with sick, coughing people touching every surface). Plain and simple. She promptly replied, “Better never send them to school then!”
Don’t let doubt creep in
I then spent the next week overthinking and doubting myself. Was I being completely unreasonable because I choose to make appointments at times when I will not have to bring my kids? Was this decision completely against the parenting code? Am I an awful mother? By the end of the week, I started to believe that I was, in fact, an awful mother, and also an awful wife.
I confided in my husband. He validated our different parenting styles, and reminded me that there is a big difference between us and most of our friends, we have three kids, two of whom are twins. TWINS, meaning we have TWO three-year-olds, at the same time. I’m not asking for sympathy, just understanding. If you’ve only borne one child at a time, you will never understand my life.
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Twin parents just get it
This made me think of a story a fellow MoM co-worker shared with me while discussing the trials of three-year-old twins.
“I can remember taking my twins to the grocery store shortly after turning three. I was in the checkout line which was quite long and both of my twins were done. They were fighting and screaming. I remember picking one of them up and placing them in a football hold while he was screaming and squirming to get free. The other was also in full tantrum mode. I looked around at all the people staring at me and I started to cry. All I could manage was to look at the cashier and say sorry, grab both my kids and leave. I never attempted that again.”
This is my kind of person!
No matter how you choose to raise your children, you will hear about it eventually. Family members, friends, an acquaintance, or even a complete stranger will have an opinion about how you parent. Some moms are able to brush the comments away and never think twice about it. Others, like me, will spend many moments questioning their character, mothering ability, and self-worth!
There is no perfect way to parent. Each child is unique. Trust in your abilities and skills as a parent and on those hard days, use these four tips to help you navigate the rough waters of defending your different parenting styles:
Smile and Nod
When you are receiving unsolicited advice, criticism, and just plain mean comments, smile and nod. Because it is the polite thing to do. Next, completely forget everything that was just said. This too is the polite thing to do, for yourself.
Consider the source
Is this person talking someone whose opinion you value? Are your lives even relatable?
As a MoM, I honestly feel like I can only compare my parenting to other twin bearing families. I also feel like these are the only people who get a pass when judging or criticizing or advising on my parenting.
Different day, Different world
I recently read a meme that I feel is one of the most truthful statements of my motherhood:
“You cannot raise your children the way your parents raised you. Your parents raised you for a world that no longer exists.”
This applies to all generations of parenting. My siblings have children that are a decade older than mine, give or take, and I cannot apply the same parenting styles they did. The world has changed significantly in 10 years. Keep this in mind when someone is telling you how to parent.
Gravitate toward good people who appreciate different parenting styles
The bright side of this whole situation is that I am now aware of where my boundaries are with this co-worker. Honestly, I don’t see boundaries as negative. I like knowing where I stand and what subjects with whom I can confide!
Honestly, I wish I was more like my co-worker. I wish it was easier for me to just pack up my three kids and take them with me wherever I go. I’m not that mom. No matter how hard I try, I can’t figure out how to go grocery shopping, put three-year-old twins in the cart, and still have enough room for my groceries.
I don’t want to encourage more screen time for my kids just to get them to sit still (which is still no guarantee they will) while I get my teeth cleaned or my hair-colored.
I am uncomfortable with allowing my children to be loud and unruly in public places. Maybe my views on this will change as my children get older. Maybe they won’t. But, I promise, no matter your different parenting styles, you will receive no judgment from me!
Amanda Hadley is a mom to a sassy 8-year-old, and 4-year-old wondrous monster twins. She is a mom first and a photographer and journalist second. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband of 11 years. Amanda spends her days repeating cliches she was sure she would never say, such as “because I said so” and “stop licking that”. She is an accomplished cartoon theme song repeater, has no idea what is happening in current events, and dreams of traveling to exotic places, alone. She enjoys hot cups of coffee, silence, and Atlanta Braves baseball.