Out with the Old, In with the New……When It Comes to Parenting

On the eve of the Lunar New Year, wishing you a HAPPY YEAR OF THE DRAGON.  Gong Xi Fa Cai!  Gong Hay Fat Choy!  新年快樂

Whether you celebrate Lunar New Year or not, it’s close enough to the actual Western calendar that welcomed its new year only 23 days ago for you to observe this as yet another opportunity to bid adieu to the old and usher in the new.  Chinese traditional new year customs include cleaning one’s home, a symbolic sweeping out of the old year to welcome the new year.  I only wish I were motivated to do that today.  It’s hard when you’re bummed about how the snowstorm and ice foiled our family’s plans to celebrate today with relatives.  Boo to winter, snow, ice, sleet….! 

So, here I am, unmotivated to do much of anything, and I’m on Twitter.  I’ve been slowing getting back up to speed on Twitter these past couple of weeks, and I’ll have to say that if it weren’t for my new iPhone, I wouldn’t be.  Yes, the iPhone has actually made it possible for my return to Twitter!  Wahoo!  So, I am able to tweet before and after work and on weekends, time permitting.  With Twitter, I actually get access to some very interesting articles. 

The interesting reading I stumbled across was a Time article titled “The Parenting Trap: Why You Shouldn’t Care What Others Think of How You Raise Your Kids” by Bonnie Rochman. It grabbed my intention instantly and got my writing juices flowing…and hence, this blog post. This is a topic very near and dear to my heart. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll recall that I’ve previously blogged about competitive parenting.  You’ll also know that I’ve fessed up many a time about my low self confidence.  As I’ve known and as this article confirms, low self confidence (or low self esteem) doesn’t help when you feel that you’re surrounded by judgmental, competitive parents.

Who hasn’t worried about what the neighbors think of your chaotic attempt to get everyone out the door in the morning with homework and lunch in tow, or how teachers and other parents might judge the brands of clothing or food you buy?
 
Now, that there sounds like they went and plucked the thought right out of my mind! 
 
Being good parents, it seems, is all about balancing these pressures and knowing which ones are worth sweating about. New research finds that having high self-imposed standards can actually be beneficial, while caring what other playground parents think about the stroller you push or your decision to not buy organic milk may in fact undermine your confidence and up your stress levels.
 
I say Amen to that! 
 
The article proceeds to mention a very large study on first-time parents and factors that impacted their adjustment to parenthood.  The study delved into the concept of parenting perfectionism, which is further split into two types:  societal-oriented parental perfectionism (societal standards affecting how you parent and causing you to worry about whether you meet those standards and what other people think) and self-oriented parental perfectionism (having your own high internal standards and not being concerned about what other people think).
 
Not surprisingly, the research indicated that the former had a negative impact–i.e., high levels of stress, lower confidence–on the parents’ adjustment to parenthood.  The researchers point out such impact isn’t limited to adjustment in the early months.  It impacts the whole parenting journey overall.  And does this have anything at all to do with postpartum mood disorders?  You bet it does!   Trouble in adjusting to parenthood, feelings of guilt, anxiety and uncertainty of a first-time mom–these are all risk factors.  See my PPD risk factors post for more details.
 
Which brings to mind another interesting article from Time that dates back to October 2010. It ‘s an oldie but a goodie.  It’s titled “Mompetition”: Why You Just Can’t Make Mom Friends and I’d like to end this post with the video that’s highlighted in that article.  It cracked me up (it’s a video created by Valerie Stone Hawthorne who is mentioned in the article).  Enjoy! 🙂
 

 

Remember this…..
Life, and all that it’s comprised of, is not all black and white with nothing in-between.  It’s all different shades.  When it comes to parenting, there is no one right approach.  It’s not all black and white, and as such, the last thing people should do is pass judgment on others.  While you can’t control what other people do, you, my friend, can do yourself a favor if you currently fall under the societal-oriented parenting perfectionist bucket.  Stand firm. Don’t let what other people say or do get to you.  I know it’s hard. It’s been hard for me.  If someone tries to one-up you (the video has some juicy examples), don’t let that bring you down.  Don’t think you are less of a parent than they are.  Walk away from the situation.  Refuse to play the silly one-up game.  Plus, who wants to listen to the continued bragging, anyway? 

Out with the old you who might crumble and get all bent out of shape over a one-upper or judgmental parent. 
In with the new you who would hold your chin up high and–like the 2nd woman in the video–walk away from the situation, maintaining calm and keeping the mantra of “Everyone parents differently. I’m doing a great job. No one’s going to make me feel otherwise.”

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