Out to lunch with a customer one day, the conversation, as it usually does, wandered into families and children. This Veteran Mommy and I have been working in the same industry for several years, and meetings are equal parts business and social.
Fine, fine, I said, getting bigger by the day. We’re just trying to keep up with them, I laughed.
How’s the sleep? Veteran Mommy asked.
I knew this was coming. A few years back, when my wife and I had our first son, I met with this same customer, whom, at the time, dispensed volumes of unsolicited information and advice, everything from how to score the best nanny, to when to start introducing solids. Veteran Mommy had asked back then about bed times, to which I replied, “We put him to bed when we go to bed.”
Which was, at that time, late.
This crashed Veteran Mommy’s world. She recommended a sleep training system, went on about the benefits of putting the little ones to bed by or before 6 pm, an on and on. She went on in such a way to make me feel bad about keeping my little guy up late(r).
Back to our second meeting…
Sleep is good! They’re (I’m at two kids now) sleeping through the night.
And what time are they going to bed? she asked.
I paused. What would be an acceptable answer? How late would be too late?
8 pm? I said.
She was shocked. Again. She said that’s too late, and went into her methods with her kids at home. Again.
So there I was, feeling horrible for raising my kids the way I do. I came home and told my wife about the incident.
“Oh,” she said. “You were parent-shamed. It happens all the time.”
She went on to say that in her own real and social media circles, mothers (and fathers) are constantly bickering about how or why to do something a certain way, and making others feel horrible if their own way doesn’t fit their so-called standards. Apparently, friendships have ended this way?
“Just ignore it,” my wife said.
I’ve read many books about parenting, potty training, sleep–you name it. Everything I’ve learned, I’ve implemented in some way, and, of course, made it my own. No one way is the right way. If Plan A fails, go on to Plan B. If appropriate, take someone’s advice. But by all means, don’t let their shaming infiltrate your own parenting.
If anything, we as parents need to support each other, not bring each other down. This goes for all discussions about kids and families. Please join in the conversation, not pick at it. With a little love and support, we can all learn something, right or wrong, from each other.
Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker.