Competitive Parenting–cut each other some slack, we’re doing the best you can

Since when did parenting become a contact sport?  Just as questioning another woman’s occupational choice is more about the attacker than the victim, using a child as a parenting medal is more about the parent than the kid. I’ve stopped going to PTO meetings.  They depress me.  I come home feeling bruised and defensive.  How I would love for them to be havens for truth, for us to share our fears and frustrations, to tell it like it really is, rather than the life captured in the family holiday photo.   Our kids aren’t perfect.  I know, I’ve taught them.  Neither is mine.  Neither am I.  It makes me interesting.

Yet, I’ve had everything questioned from not having my son play a musical instrument to why I don’t have him enrolled in more honors classes, or better yet, private school.  Why doesn’t he have more after school activities, why do I let him play computer games, and why do I have an endless supply of cookies in my house.

Because I’m a terrible mother.  What else could it be?

It is what we think is best for him at the moment.  And by we, I mean, me, my husband and my son.  No, he doesn’t always get his way, but he counts.

You can stop thinking “new age liberal mother raising a future anarchist” right now.   It’s not all “free to be you and me” in our house either.  He does not, and will not, if he knows what’s good for him, talk back to teachers, referees, employers, or other adults of any kind, including his parents.  He has chores, limits, and is expected to converse over dinner about something other than Call of Duty or the Patriots losing the Superbowl.  It’s harder than it sounds.

I will assume that you are doing the best you can as well.  It’s not always easy to do.  Remember, I’m a substitute teacher.  I’ve seen a lot.  My son knows that if he talks about his friend’s “ridiculous” parents, he’ll get nothing from me but a lecture about how hard parenting is, and that every kid thinks they are blameless victims of circumstance and that their parents are nothing but trolls that dwell under bridges waiting to consume unsuspecting children.

So if my son does the same thing at your house, pay back the favor.  And tell him to clean his bathroom.  It’s disgusting.

You all rock.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Gary Gao

11 comments on “Competitive Parenting–cut each other some slack, we’re doing the best you can

  1. Lara Britt says:

    Parenting isn’t easy. I just kept telling myself to breathe and to enjoy them while I had them under wing. Millions of choices, just like real life. You can’t have them all. But you can have yours.

  2. Nina says:

    I love this article! I’ve already told my kids that someday when they are complaining about me to their therapists, to remember that I’ve done the best parenting that I knew how to do!!

    • It’s funny, when my dude was complaining last week, I told him to write it down and save it for therapy. He said “People do that? They tell their therapist that it’s all their parents fault? You should have told me that a long time ago, I’d have kept better notes.”

  3. seventhvoice says:

    Great post and oh so true….

  4. Lise says:

    Thanks for your post. I really enjoy your blog!

    Toughest job in the world! The most awesome part of parenting is, after all the love, hugs, fun & games, discipline, tears (yours and your children’s), arguments, consequences, etc, when they/he grows up (I have 2 adult daughters), you just might have done a great enough job for them/him to thank you! Mine did, and it made all the effort worth every ounce of energy:) Now I have a grandson, and my daughter parents just like me…had to have done something right!

  5. hiyacynthia says:

    No judgment from me, darlin! Oh, and I played computer games all the time when I was a teen and I think I turned out pretty great. And my kids’ bathroom is disgusting too. And they are girls. You are not alone…

  6. Veronica Roth says:

    I hear you Jeannine! Altho my three are now 32, 30 and 20, and only one has gone on to University, they fluently speak four languages, have the biggest artistic talent and the wildest imagination I’ve ever seen, are accepting of and comfortable in all sorts of cultures and have their hands in trying to “save the world”. If they complain about their Bohemian lifestyle and lack of permanent address growing up, I remind them how they can totally go on Oprah and tell the world how their mother ruined their life by dragging them all over the Earth.

  7. Deborah Maue says:

    Each morning, I try to remind myself that no one facing a decision (big or little) says to him/herself, “I think this is a really bad decision, but I think I’ll make it anyway.” We make the best decisions we can based on the information we have, and the way the world looks at the moment. I’ve made some parenting decisions that, in retrospect, were pretty good, and I’ve had some big-time fails. But luckily, kids are resilient, and for the most part, they turn out just fine.

    • So wise Deb! Nor do they say, I think I’ll ruin my child/trash my marriage/tank my job today. Sometimes the dominoes fall in a way you don’t expect. And if I’m really honest about it, some of the things my parents did that I saw as “so wrong” don’t look so unreasonable today.

  8. muddykinzer says:

    I couldn’t agree more! 🙂

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