If you find yourself constantly defending your parenting to others, ask yourself this-why are you so busy trying to convince yourself that what you’re doing is okay?
If you aren’t confident in your own parenting, then I generally suggest one of two things. Either way, start by evaluating the parenting choices you are making. Then, (1) re-commit to your practices and trust yourself. No need to convince others, your opinion is what matters- these are your children. Or, (2) change your practice. If you examine your parenting practices and find they do not align with the goals you have for your children, then change them. Need help? Get it.
There is no reason to defend your parenting to others. By doing so, you are communicating to them, and to yourself, that you are insecure. Now there is nothing wrong with recognizing you are insecure, and owning that. This is a marvelous act of self-knowledge and responsible humaning. However, pretending you are not insecure and continuing to justify behavior you clearly aren’t confident about is ridiculous.
A parent sends her child into the living room with an i-pad, “I never do this,” she tells me, as she is holding her other child, screaming, in her arms. Why is this clearly overwhelmed parent taking the time to communicate this to me in the midst of her chaos? Because she feels embarrassed, and maybe ashamed. But she also feels exasperated, and angry. She wants to get rid of those bad feelings so she attempts to justify her behavior and get me to affirm her. I take the bait, because I’m still working on my co-dependency issues. The speck of reassurance I offer brings forth a gush of further justification.
“I know that screen time is bad, and we really try to limit it,” she says through the screams of her baby as she hands him her iPhone. The child stops crying on cue and instantly navigates to “his” video. I give him a wry smile; the dexterous little expert knows how to play this game well. Mom continues, “I just can’t get anything done.” She gestures to the piles of laundry around her and the toys strewn across her living room. Her attention now diverted to house cleaning, she launches down a new path of justification. “You have no idea how much laundry children produce. It is never ending.” Co-dependent that I am, I feed into the martyr narrative, so it continues.
Here is what I would have said to this precious parent, had she wanted to listen rather than talk: Why is it that you want me to think you’re a good parent? Why do you assume that my idea of a good parent means no access to electronics and a clean house? Do you think you’re a good parent? Do you measure that goodness in units such as screen time and household chores? If so, clean your house and forbid screen time. If not, then own that you don’t care and forget about what anyone else thinks. It might be hard, but it’s not complicated.
Change it or own it. If you “can’t” change it, then it’s not really something you want that badly. If you want to want it, get help. If not, accept that you don’t care all that much, and let it go. Just stop justifying. Please.