Monday, October 19, 2015

The Secret of My (Parenting) Success

I don’t mean for this to sound conceited, but I get a lot of comments on my good parenting. I’m sure that a lot of the reason for that is that I post about my parenting on Facebook, in my personal blog, and in my monthly newspaper column, not to mention the fact that I am a stay-at-home-parent and homeschooler, so parenting is kind of what I do. When people talk to me, the most obvious thing to talk to me about is parenting. And yeah, I actually am pretty good at it. But let me share with you the very simple secret to my parenting success: I don’t care.

Seriously, that’s the secret. I don’t care.

Well, that may be a bit of an overstatement. I do care; I just don’t care about everything. I’ve figured out what’s important to care about, and I don’t care about the rest.

I don’t care what other people think about my parenting (with the exception of my husband, my pediatrician, and possibly one or two other professionals in the child care and development fields who happen to personally know me and my children well). I do my own research, I’m open to hearing other points of view, but when it comes right down to it, I know my kids and I’ll parent the way that I think works best for them and for me, and I couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks.

That sounds pretty easy, but it’s really not. I have no doubt that if I had become a mom in my twenties, I would have cared very much about what other people thought. I’d have plunged into depression when the La Leche League ladies at the hospital told me I was a horrible mother for only nursing my children for 3 or 4 months so I could go back on medication. But instead, I recognized that I knew what I needed, and I knew what my children needed, and it was a healthy mom and formula.

Twenty years ago I’d have been a stuttering, stammering mess if anyone challenged my ability to homeschool my son. God forbid they asked me about the dreaded “S-word”: socialization. But now I feel free to tell them that he’s socialized just fine, thanks, and maybe they should go talk to the public school kids who don’t ride the bus, don’t have recess, and aren’t allowed to talk during lunch or homeroom to see how well socialized they are in school. Except that I don’t, because I don’t care. It’s not any of my business how well socialized public school kids are, any more than it’s anyone else’s business how well socialized my kid is.

I don’t care if some stranger judges me because I let my daughter wear her Snow White costume to the grocery store, or because I let my son wear shorts and a T-shirt in 55-degree weather, or because I wouldn’t let either of my children take a free lollipop at the bank because they were having tantrums in line.

What I do care about is figuring out how to parent in such a way that my daughter feels free to make up an elaborate story about being a princess, or that my son feels free to dress in a way that makes him happy and comfortable, or that both my children recognize that there are consequences for their behavior.

I do care that my children feel loved, and respected. I do care that they recognize that they have a responsibility to contribute to society by learning, by being polite, and by making their own contribution to the world around them.

I don’t care if you think my son is weird because he homeschools; I do care if you try to tell him there’s something wrong with him because of it. I don’t care if you think my daughter is weird because of how she’s dressed; I do care if you make fun of her for it. I am teaching both my children to be loving and accepting of the many different ways that people behave. I am teaching them that there is a right way and a wrong way to behave. I am teaching them that there are more important things in life than their own wants. I am teaching them that they are important, and worthy, and that their lives are important and worthy.

And if you think that’s not important or worthy, well, I really don’t care.

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