Yesterday I wrote a guest post for the crumb diaries about my girls, both of which have ADHD. They have different types, different symptoms and are entirely different people to begin with, which means that how we cope with their conditions is also completely different.
I knew that writing it would most likely elicit some negative feedback, but I'm at this place in my parenting tenure where I really just don't care what someone else thinks about my choices. They don't know my kids or my situation, they don't understand the complexity of our issues and can never fully grasp what we contend with in this house because they don't live it.
Of course, that will never stop others from condemning the choices we make for our kids.
Which is fine. Honestly.
I just don't care.
The thing is this, though: I used to. I have a lot of friends and family members who care an awful lot about what other people think about how they are raising their kids. Society is full of new parents, nervous and unsure of their skills and decision making, being thrown to the wolves of the judgmental people out there who will proclaim that everything they are doing is wrong.
The parenting industry is huge and thriving, full of books and classes and more, all of which will tell you the one best way to do it all.
It all relies on our insecurities, and it's a billion dollar industry.
I have this theory about those who tell everyone else how to raise their kids. It's that they want so badly to believe that they are doing it all right, that they make the best decisions, that they are the most deliberate and thought out, planned parents, that their children will be just fine, that anything that deviates from how they've chosen to raise their kids is incompatible with that illusioned perfection.
That's just what it is, though.
No one is a perfect parent.
No one is a perfect person.
We all make mistakes. Yep. Even you.
We all adapt to our situations. We have to.
You can only ever be the best parent you can to the children you were given.
Our children are each unique creatures that bring with them their own set of challenges and talents, struggles and skills. There cannot be one proper way to parent them all for the simple fact that they are all different. And they all come with a different set of parents, in a different situation, in a different culture, in a different income bracket, in a different birth order, and so on and so forth.
You could have a dozen children and you'd end up with a dozen very different people.
It's not just the kids who vary, it's us too.
Sometimes we are just in a different place with one child than another. Sometimes life gets complicated. Sometimes tragedy strikes. Sometimes mental illnesses show up. Sometimes marriages end. Sometimes new families merge.
Being a parent requires and demands flexibility in a way unlike anything else in life will, so why labor under the false assumption that there is only one way to do it right?
To all the people out there who preach to others about whatever path they've chosen, stop. Take a deep breath. Look in the mirror. Accept that you are flawed just as much as any other parent out there is, that what works for your family almost certainly won't work for someone else, and that's okay. Live your life and let everyone else live theirs without feeling like you're judging them from afar. Channel that energy into your own family instead of projecting it onto others.
Be strong in the conviction that you are making the right choice for you, but don't burden other people with the choices you've made as though they are the only possible correct ones.
If there is ever a time when the phrase well, I'd never _________ with my kids starts to come out of your mouth, snatch it up before you let it out. Maybe you wouldn't do whatever it is, maybe you would. Maybe you just haven't been in that situation yet. Maybe you have no idea who or what you are judging.
To all the parents out there who've questioned themselves, who've doubted themselves, who've cried out of frustration at 3am, who've sat in a parking lot and sobbed, who've read every book on whatever diagnosis their child has, who've done the absolute best they could, I say this:
I support you.
To the adoptive parents, to those who let their babies live with a chosen family instead,
to those who struggled to conceive, to those who didn't,
to those who had natural births, to those who had surgical ones,
to the parents who can kiss their children goodnight, to those who said goodbye too soon,
to those who breastfed, to those who used formula,
to those who home school, to those who send their children to school,
to those who are vegan, to those who love bacon,
to those who can afford lavish vacations, to those who cannot,
to those who work, to those who stay home,
to those who volunteer, to those who don't,
to those who are single parents, to those who are married,
to those who are divorcing, to those who are widowed,
to those who are bringing their first baby home from the hospital, to those who are sending their last to college,
to all of you, I say this:
I support you.
I support you. I don't know your life. I don't know your struggles. I don't know your children the way only you possibly could, and I will never presume to. I trust that you make the choices you do for the reasons you see fit.
Imagine the world where we built each other up as parents instead of insisting that we are right at the expense of everyone else.
Imagine a world full of children raised by adults who are okay with doing the best they can, who do what they think is right, not because someone else told them to, but because they followed their heart.
Imagine a world where we lived our lives for ourselves, not out of fear for what others would say or think about us.
Imagine a world where we accept. We accept.
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