You know that moment when you see a fellow parent doing something with their kid and you’re thinking “Oh dang, I just read an article about that, maybe I should share what I’ve learned!” But of course you don’t. And why? Because you don’t want to get punched in the face. We’ve all heard the phrase, “It takes a village,” being used in reference to child-rearing, but do we really take that to heart? I’m going to say that, no, we do not take it to heart. In fact, I think we take it as an insult. We think we should be able to know everything we need to know, all on our own.
I’m totally guilty of this too. But in this ever-humbling experience of parenting, I’ve had to get over myself. Let’s face it, there’s just too much to know. Being expected to be a “natural” at parenting is like being expected to be a “natural” mechanic. It’s ridiculous. Especially when you consider the complexity of a human being. There are so many developmental considerations: biological, psychological, social, and spiritual, to name a few. And we really think that we can just “naturally” know how to foster growth in all of those areas? That is very unfair to expect that of ourselves.
I’m also going to say that it’s unfair of us to get angry when others try to help us. “Don’t tell ME to do with MY kid!” That’s what I want to say. But truthfully, no one can make me do anything. I can listen and then research it for myself if I want to. Most importantly, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. I know I’ve been in tons of situations when I’ve been afraid to share information because I don’t want to offend someone. But sadly, I just honestly care for them and want to help. I don’t think they’re bad parents because I just happened to read something that they didn’t. So now, I try really hard to give others (and myself) grace when advice is offered. I’m giving them grace by choosing to believe that they genuinely want to help. Then, I give myself grace for not having the ability to know all things parenting.
I’m not always going to know when to ask for help, so saying that advice shouldn’t be given unless it’s requested isn’t really fair either. Sometimes, I don’t know what I don’t know. For example, during my pregnancy, a cousin of mine sent me a Facebook message informing me about circumcision being optional. She also included links to some really informative sites so that I could research it. I was so thankful she did this because otherwise I may not have thought about it. I’ll admit, at first, I was surprised by it… but I know her heart. That experience empowered me to want to share information with other moms too. I realized in that moment that there is just too much to know.
I know this is a touchy subject… what do you think? Do you get the eebie jeebies when someone starts to offer you advice? How can people offer information in a positive way? Have I ever given you information that rubbed you the wrong way?
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