Hi CrapPile readers! Been another long while, hasn’t it?!
I am a parent. My daughter, Kenway, is eight months old. Her mother and I are (currently) engaged to be married and raise her together as a team, which ideally is the way it should be done. We are always on the same page when it comes to the baby. Sometimes, we ask for and receive advice from others about what we should be doing with her, but for the most part we are learning as we go, making mistakes and finding success every day.
So far, she is not worse for wear. She is hitting and exceeding every milestone and already has that fiery personality and attitude redheads are known for. We could not have been blessed with a greater kid.
But as I said, mistakes have been made. Personally, my latest boo-boo came yesterday when I decided to respond to a meme a family member posted on Facebook about things that are never ok to do to your child. I don’t remember the exact wording, but the first point it tried to make was that it was never ok for a parent to invade their child’s privacy and look through their phones, backpacks, or bedrooms. While I agreed completely with everything else, this first point was one I could not throw my money behind. Briefly and politely, I expressed my dissenting opinion and moved on.
Before I continue, it may help to give a little background about my own upbringing to show where my parenting philosophy stemsMy parents are both military and I was, to put it mildly, a troublemaker. My dad probably can come up with a more colorful—and accurate—term for how I was but that is beside the point. I was a little terror and so they had to adjust their parenting style accordingly. I turned out alright! Again, Dad might give a completely different opinion but…
Anyways, neither myself or my two brothers ever gave them a reason to have to look through our things. Even if we had, they had every right to. My parents subscribe to the “my house, my rules” attitude. Also, they are both army veterans so the concepts of respect and responsibility were driven into us hard growing up. If we messed up, we had to own up to it and face the consequences. Did we ever own up to it? Probably not, but none of us ever felt entitled or abused. Our parents commanded respect and taught by example, and before Kenway was born I told Alexis that I wanted us to try and bring Kenway up the same way. She agreed with me and that is the way we still intend to parent once the goo-goo, gah-gah learning to crawl stage is over.
I should have known better. I should have known from years of passionate debating on Facebook that there was no chance in Hell that I could just post an opinion, walk away, and expect that to be the end of it. I was immediately responded to by an acquaintance who told me that not only was I wrong, but that every therapist on the planet would disagree with me. Invading my kid’s personal space, I was told, does more to destroy the trust a kid has for their parents than anything. Again, I disagreed and moved on, but this only led to me going to bed that night and waking up to a slew of similar messages from other distant relatives of my fiancé and their friends. I briefly tried to defend myself but as with every experience I’ve had arguing with liberals it resorted to one of them hinting that what I wanted to do was abusive and that my child was in for a traumatic childhood. Furthermore, I myself was pretty much called a child for refusing to take a “simple suggestion”.
I should point out that NONE of the people involved in this argument, besides myself, are parents. In fact, a lot of them are not even 21 years old yet. All but one still live with their parents. By what right do they have to 1) give me parenting advice, and 2) tell me that what I’m doing and what I believe is wrong? What credentials do they have? What experience do they have?
Most important of all, what right do they have to tell me how to raise my child?
The answer to all of the above is a very simple one: none whatsoever. I could care less if every single one of them had been world-renown experts in the fields of child development and psychology. It would not phase me in the slightest. No one, not even a relative, has the right to judge you on how you choose to raise your child or tell you that you’re doing anything wrong. Of course there are exceptions, but far as I’m concerned, everybody who is not me (or Alexis, since we are on the same page) is wrong and I am right. That’s one of the few times you have a right to be pompous is when it comes to being a parents. At the end of the day, you know your kids better than anyone and as a result you know what to do to ensure that they learn what they need to learn and get done why needs to be done. You are the expert, more so than any high-priced, holistic therapist can in a half hour appointment.
Becoming a parent changes you. Whoever you were before the baby is born dies and you immediately are reborn into someone new. Until you experience that joy and that euphoria for yourself and actually feel the change within you, you will never know what it feels like to be a parent. You no longer live for yourself as one human being but you live for the tiny one, as well. In my case I’m fortunate and I can live for my fiancé, as well. The responsibility is overwhelming, but in the best possible ways. It is unique and it truly feels like I am part of an elite club of human beings.
For young people who are barely out of their teens with little to no worldly perspective or experience to try telling me stuff that they truly don’t know anything about is insulting. You can read every parenting book out there or babysit your entire life but that does not make you a parent. Being a kid to parents does not make you an expert in parenting. There is a lot that goes on behind closed doors that kids don’t need to know about and will never know about. Every journey as a parent is unique just as every child is unique. At the end of the day, no one can be trusted to give you the advice you need but yourself. Others might offer valuable guidance but no one can parent for you and should never attempt to get in your way. No one is more qualified than you.
Even though it was entirely unnecessary, I was emotionally a bit rattled by the prissy name calling that I asked my future mother-in-law and her husband for their input and was told by both of them that I was in the right and that they were in the wrong. I did not ask for acceptance or condemnation for those who thought they were doing me a favor by interfering in my life and calling me a child abuser in all but name. Still, it is nice to know that the label is not one that everybody agrees with.
There are reasons we parent the way we parent. People need to understand this. I guarantee you that everybody has their own issues they need to focus on instead of trying to change the way others parent their own kids. Especially if you are not a parent yourself.
I am the father and I’ll do what I want to, thanks.