As I sit here there are ten wars being fought in countries across the world. In those countries I can only assume that young men (and women) are either joining up to play some role in the conflict or being conscripted into armies and militias to fight. You know what they say about wars, though: children are often the biggest casualties. It’s the same with parenting wars.
No, parents aren’t grabbing weapons and helmets and attacking each other; the wars are social ones, conducted with words, but even these can become brutal.
You’d think that the simple act of having a child would be a peaceful one. How many of you have experienced unwanted salvos from friends, family and strangers in the daily struggle to keep sane and happy?
There will be unsolicited advice, sometimes easily deflected, sometimes “offered” with the implication that you’re defective if you don’t take it, sly comments, hurtful insinuations and even all-out attacks on the manner in which you choose to raise your child. These can be at their most damaging when you’re already feeling overcome and needing support.
Your little baby will usher you into a lifetime of choices. Most parents don’t think about the HOWs of parenting before reproducing, but the baby arrives leaving you thinking, “Now what?”
Before long, you discover stay-at-home moms and dads, working parents, working-from-home parents, attachment parenting, sleep training,helicopter parenting, tough love, authoritarian parenting, permissive parenting and uninvolved parenting. Not only that, but you have to figure out thorny issues such as breastfeeding, weaning, dummies (or no dummies), dietary choices, schooling decisions, home-schooling quandaries, discipline styles and on, and on and on.
Your choices will never be entirely the same as anyone else’s. And that’s perfectly right. If one parent says it’s okay to circumcise a baby boy/pierce a baby’s ears/swear in front of the kids/encourage a religious (or areligious) upbringing, other parents are free to make their own choices.
You just can’t please all parents all of the time. Even if the other parent concerned is your partner or your own parents/parents-in-law.
But you can accept other people; accept their choices. And, most importantly, accept yourself.
You can choose to accept advice or leave it. Do what’s best for you and your child. Parent according to your own personalities and lifestyle choices.
That’s a great way of avoiding your children becoming casualties in the parenting wars.
I'm not telling you what to do, of course: I don’t have it all figured out either, I am picking it up as I go along and hopefully doing the best I can. If my children are casualties, it’s because of my own failed attempts which create friendly fire, but that’s quickly sorted out with some hot chocolate.
Peaceful parenting. That’s something worth fighting for.
Have you ever been the target of aggression from another parent? Did you manage to resolve the issue, and, if so, how?