Parenting and feeling stronglyWhen my children were babies, and I found myself on a less mainstream path, I quickly discovered that almost all parents ( and a few people who've never had kids), have very strong feelings about parenting styles. I'd be lying of I pretended I don't have strong feelings myself. Knowing that I'm a crunchier parent, you can guess that I think breastfeeding, cosleeping,responding to a child's cries, not spanking, and cloth diapers are all very, very good ideas. (Actually, I feel we should reframe diapering not as a parenting choice but as an ecological one; more akin to the decision between a hybrid and an SUV than between breast and bottle. But that was another post .)
Those particular decisions are far behind me, yet I find we still fall into strong opinions. For example, my eldest has just finished applying to community college, where he'll finish his last two years of high school and his AA at the same time. (That's the theory, anyway). More than one friend has expressed that they don't consider it a good idea, because 16 year olds are still children (not a view I necessarily share) or that they will miss out on important parts of high school (which is true, but I imagine any youth who found prom or high school football important would either forgo early entry to college or find a way to do them anyway)
I don't feel strongly about whether or not others should send their children to college early, but I do strongly want all my children to consider it, and I feel it's a good fit for my eldest. Firstly, both the DM and I believe in avoiding debt, and I personally consider avoiding debt to be more important than the prom or the "experience" (read, luxury) of living on campus. Secondly, if I could have avoided my last two years of high sc hool and gotten on with my life, and gotten two years of college paid for to boot, you can BET I would have done it. But most importantly, I recognise it as a highly individual decision; not just for families to make, but for children within families. My middle child has applied to an arts high school and my youngest hopes to go to the sister science school. Should they do that, they will have the opportunity to take college courses during high school, but as part of high school. What is right for their brother might not be right for them, who went right from home schooled to college.
Another friend has long been shocked at my total disinterest in involving my kids in sports, a disinterest that extended to knitting through the entire season of basketball that my youngest played.
I think it's important for us to recognize not only that what works for us might not work for another parent, but that what works for us with one child may not work with another. Further, we often will fail to live up to out ideals, or may have to change them when life throws us a curve ball. I can't count the times I've heard a friend say one of the following:
"I planned to breastfeed, but ( I bled profusely after birth and my body was busy not dying; my child's heart condition made nursing too difficult for him; my spouse left and I was in extreme stress)"
"I never thought I'd homeschool, but then my kid (had a peanut allergy; was bullied; was misdiagnosed or not diagnosed with a learning challenge)"
"I was always going to feed my kids a whole foods vegetarian diet, but she's given hot dogs wherever she goes"
You can insert any number of scenarios here, but the takeaway is this: We ought to remain humble about our own parenting and others', and recognize that circumstances outside our control can throw things for a loop. We ought to recognize that no one way is right for everyone, and may not even work for all the kids in your own family. Let's trust that and lift people up, OK?