I’ll admit, when the latest parent shaming article came out, I clicked on it and read it. Have you heard about lawnmower parents who “mow” all the obstacles away for their children?
After reading it part of me basked in the pleasure of, “I wouldn’t drive a water bottle to school for my teen” and part of me judged myself where I may have indulged my children, when I “should” have let my kids figure out their own problems. Later I judged myself for judging that mom who brought the water bottle for her teen. I thought, “I don’t know the story behind this. I’m sure that lots of kids who grew up with the opposite of lawnmower parents wish they had a lawnmower mom or dad.”
Do you see what’s happening here?
The good ol’ parent shame factory is in full-tilt with September coming in strong.
I could continue this article by shaming all the people who re-posted the lawnmower parenting article. But I might as well point the finger at myself. It can feel really good when you find a post about some aspect of parenting that preaches what you’re already doing as a parent. That negative pleasure about feeling smug about one of my parenting choices can feeling really good.
So, I thought it was a good time to re-post my article The Myth of Perfect Parenting. That’s right – the idea that there is a best parenting style is a myth. This truth is ridiculously easy to forget.
From Judgment to Empathy
Unless we see a parent physically or emotionally abusing their child or neglecting them to the point of it being unsafe, I wonder what it would be like to shift to compassionate curiousity when some one’s parenting style hits a nerve inside of us. Often we are triggered by a parent who is “too soft” or “too strict” or “too wishy-washy”. What parenting style triggers you?
Judging other Parents is also Judging ourselves
When we judge other parents, we are in a weird way actually judging our own insecurities about parenting. When we judge other parents, we are inviting an opportunity to judge ourselves when we don’t meet our own standards of parenting. We can make it harder to forgive ourselves when we don’t “practice what we preach”. Moms are particularly hard on themselves and each other. As parents, we can benefit from giving ourselves an empathic voice when our judging voice kicks in to keep us down.
The Unsaid Pressure placed on our Children
We place a lot of pressure on our kids to “turn out fine” because we did our best at parenting and having been given so many privileges and opportunities compared to another kid. As a psychotherapist mother who works with parents I can feel that self-induced pressure on myself and my children. If we take that pressure off of our children, we may find a way to be more compassionate about our own parenting styles and just be ourselves.
Our parenting style impacts our children and at the same-time, it does not guarantee our children a problem-free future.
If our kids are struggling, then it’s a good time to reflect on whether a change in our parenting style may help them, and at the same time, our kids problems may not be related to our parenting choices.
Humour & Healing
To add a little light & lightness to this topic, here’s a couple of videos to all the lawnmower, helicopter, free-range, zen, competitive, and every other type of parent category out there. Yes, the videos are all women. If you have a great one about types of fathers, please share!
The first is created by women who clearly aren’t parents. It can be humbling to have an outside lens.
Cat and Nat, some hilarious moms talking about mom-shaming.
Brené Brown digs deep in this heart-felt Ted Talk about Shame.
The last five minutes she delves into the realities of shame for men and women.