I am in a local mommy group on Facebook. A few days ago, one of the moms was expressing her frustration about her family’s constant input about how she was raising her children. I could relate oh-so-well to that.
For a long time, I felt resentment towards my mother for constantly criticizing how I was raising my son. It felt like I couldn’t do anything right in her eyes. So whenever she told me to do something, I pretty much wrote it off. Maybe it is my Aquarian nature. We are known to be decisive, stubborn, and non-conformists. Neither of those are bad traits, but they can definitely manifest themselves in negative ways. For me, this combination manifested in my not implementing her advice.
However, now I wish that I had been more receptive and done some of the things she had suggested. As hard as it is to admit, she DID raise 5 children, so she she has way more experience with it than I do. While experience is not everything, it should not be discounted. Granted, there are some things that are not up for debate – such as my decisions to homeschool or work from home. However, I do feel that Christian and I would have benefited had I been more receptive to some things.
For one, my mom was the first one to say that she felt like Christian had some developmental delays. I argued that “you can’t compare him to other kids” and that “all kids develop at a different rate”. While both of those things are true, the reality was that Christian did have some delays. I accept now that my problem was fear. I was afraid of having him labeled as a special needs child (as though that is somehow a dirty word). I was even more afraid that somehow it was my fault. That I had done something wrong (or failed to do something right) while I was pregnant, even though I followed the advice of the books I read. That maybe I was failing as a parent. To face the idea that my son wasn’t “normal” or “on track” made me feel like I was a failure. And, to be honest, I couldn’t separate those feelings of doubt, fear, and guilt from my mom’s observations. Because of that, it was several months before I finally decided to talk to his pediatrician about it. In the 1.5 years since he has been in speech and occupational therapy, he has progressed so much. I am thankful that I finally listened rather than being on the defensive.
My mom also told me SEVERAL times that I should have Christian on some type of schedule. I didn’t listen. I told myself that we don’t have to have a schedule because I work from home. Schedules are for people who had to be places at specific times throughout the day. Since I work from home, we could afford to just go with the flow. Boy, was I wrong! Now I am a HUGE proponent of having a schedule. Not necessarily having your entire day planned out. That really does not fit my personality and would probably make me feel like a failure because there is NO WAY I would be able to maintain that. Lol! However, I think it is very important to have some semblance of structure to your day/week. Not only for your child’s benefit, but for yours. If I had listened to my mom, perhaps establishing a routine would not have been so difficult.
So my advice to anyone who feels like their family is trying to be too involved in your parenting is this:
Be thankful that they care enough about your children to say something, listen to what they have to say (instead of automatically writing it off out of stubbornness), take advice that sounds logical (which is easier to do when you are not angry/upset), and take the rest with a grain of salt. It can be overwhelming for sure. Mostly because we probably already question whether we are doing things right (especially if you are a first time parent), so having people give us advice just feels like criticism. However, it usually comes from a good place and may actually be helpful.
What’s your mommy confession? Have you ever received advice that you initially ignored but now wish you had listened to?