I’m not even talking about the mommy competition on stuff like purity, you know like oh you use disposables? Hmm I only use Egyptian cotton washable diapers washed in organic soap produced by free trade artisan monks in Borneo, I guess you don’t love your child.
I mean anything, you can tell someone then he ran into the toilet and threw the paper in the bowl. Ohh you shouldn’t let him out of your sight like that.
What do these people mean? Do they literally chase and hover over their child 24/7 in the house?!
Ditto for outings, I don’t care how many outings you take if you spent yesterday at the zoo and park you should be doing more. More, more, more, more, more.
Did you cook at least three veggies with dinner? You need to cook variety.
You need to buy him toys, he has so many toys it is obscene.
It never ends. Everyone would always do more than YOU.
One part of it is consumerism, I think. Your kid needs 50,000 Baby Einstein DVDs or he’ll be stupid. Actually, no, not DVDs; BluRay. Don’t you even love him enough for BluRay? And why didn’t you buy an AngelCare SIDS monitor thing? Do you want him to die? You don’t take him to the baby gym? Obviously you don’t care about his development. Parents are bombarded with these messages.
At one point in the raising of our kids, we discussed the fact that *friends *wouldn’t be critical of our every move. We decided the problem was in how we defined the word “friend”. Cutting off contact with those who were perpetually “advising” made parenting much less stressful for us. We’ve never regretted it.
Eons ago when I was in college, I used to babysit for a classmate. I was aghast - AGHAST, I TELL YOU - that they let their kid teethe on the dog’s chew toys. Oddly enough, their son survived.
I was lucky, I guess. We weren’t on line when our daughter was born and my closest friends at the time were childless and not inclined to offer advice. And I didn’t insist on dragging the kid along when we hung out with these folks - in fact, we had babysitters lined up before she was born! I’m such a bad Mommy…
It’s a miracle that my baby managed to live long enough to get a full scholarship to college and is now in her 5th year of teaching, [del]warping[/del] molding young minds. Goodness knows what might have happened if I’d followed the suggestions of clueless strangers!
I don’t recall getting into that competetive crap too much, but it was a while back!
One reason that parents stress out about doing “enough” is the stakes are so high. We only get one chance to raise this particular child. I love my children more than anything in this world. I wanted the best possible upbringing for them, which did not necessarily mean having all the things, but enough. The problem is, every choice you make closes out another choice. (If I chose a Disney vacation, maybe it would have been better to see the Grand Canyon??? Who the heck knows?) There is no one perfect formula to producing a healthy, happy, productive adult. Parenting is a series of guesses and mid-course corrections. YMMV.
Insecurity brought on by lack of cultural norms about parenting is my explanation–at least in the United States. There’s no generally accepted “right way” of doing things, so we have to stake out our own territory and defend it as the “right” one.
There’s an astonishing lack of consistency among parents, too. Compare me to another mom from my online due date club on the question of child safety. I’ve turned my daughter’s car seat around which she says “no way!” to (our kids are 21 months, APA now recommends they stay rear-facing till at least 24 months), but she put her little boy in a regular bed with a regular pillow at 15 months, which I say “no way” to, for selfish and safety reasons.
Husband’s 2 year old niece is watched every second because she’s either an autmatron set on destroy, or she’s a rabid leprechaun convinced the gold is hidden somewhere inside the house. Maybe all two year olds aren’t that wired and destructive, but I’m expecting to corral mine or tie her to my leg during the terrible twos if her cousin’s behavior follows. I’m astounded at neice’s speed, agility, and ground coverage. I’m convinced she can hover.
For the most part, I’ve had fantastic advice, but I solicit it. “What’s your best advice?” earns a thoughtful response and usually an admission of errors to learn from, too. I’ve yet to have any strangers advise me of anything but “treasure these days; they go ny fast.”
As far as toys and such? Mine is six months and friends and family know my rule. She can have as many toys as will fit in her laundry basket sized toybox. Anything new appears and something she’s lost interest in goes in the Goodwill box. No limit on books or learning toys, but any dust collectors are history unless baby shows an interest or attachment. Her toybox might grow with her, but I’m sticking to that get one/donate one rule for the rest of her life.
Oh, I’m set for life. Great Nephew (title due to familial generation only; he’s quite the doofus) had a baby with his 18 year old girlfriend two months ago. They naturally have no money, which means I have a wonderful opportunity to be charitable with my baby’s cast offs. Makes me look generous instead of unsentimental. Nothing better for this first time mother’s ego than having an utterly clueless and naive set of first time parents nearby.
Have you seriously encountered people like this? In real life? Because I’ve read articles that are all about how I’m not doing enough and I should be constantly feeling bad about that, I’ve read articles about how all mothers are constantly being evil bitches and telling each other they’re not doing enough and my way is better than your way, I’ve read the occasional internet post about how something I happen to be doing isn’t good enough and the poster’s way is better than my way - but in three and a half years of having a kid, I’ve only once actually had anyone tell me that what I was doing wasn’t good enough and they would do it better.
(We were at the Pirate Village, which has, among other things, huge inflatable clear plastic balls. Stick kid in ball, zip up ball, inflate, float on little pond. Widget was bopping around in one of those, in pure ecstasy - it was one of her favourite experiences in her whole life - and some granny next to me informed that she would never let a child go in those because they’re not safe. I smiled and said, ‘Really? It’s mad how everyone’s different, isn’t it?’ which is my standard response to interference, and she went off to bug someone else.)
Is this seriously a noticeable part of your child-raising experience?
It looked brilliant. You can bounce around in there and fling yourself at the sides of the ball like a crazy person, or run like a huge hamster, or you can just lie on your back and look up at the sky. I SO wanted to do it too. You had to be under ten or something, though.
I think Sattua has it right- a lot of people have rejected what their parents did, and there’s not any sort of consensus about how it should be done.
Combine that with a seriously flawed ability to assess risk when it comes to children, and you get parents who argue about the silliest things- really, who gives a damn whether the cotton that was used to make my son’s washcloth was grown organically? It’s not like pesticides are going to come out and get him from the washcloth, you know.
My wife and I are pretty resolutely doing it like our parents did, even though it’s insanely out of step with a lot of modern parenting. We let our son fall down, bang his head on stuff, etc… I can’t count the number of times I’ve said “Watch out, or you’ll trip and fall.” and watched him blithely faceplant because he wasn’t paying attention. He learns fast though, and he’s turning out to be surprisingly tough, unlike a lot of the precious flowers I hear about whose parents coddle them and make everything totally safe and padded, lest they get a bump or bruise.
(for the record, I think that big inflatable ball sounds like a blast!)