Parenting

Avoid Back-To-School Parent Shaming

Do you judge other parents to make yourself feel better?

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This is a tough question. 

In the spirit of back-to-school transitions, it's important to catch yourself before you accidentally pick someone apart. God wants us to have a love fast and live slow attitude even with adjacent parents. Can I share a personal story? Of course! Thanks! 

I can count on my fingers, toes and likely Nick’s as well, how many times I’ve felt judged or shamed by adjacent parents. Parenting is a funny thing. Nick and I know the emotional patterns of each kid. We know what tricks they will play and what discipline works best with their unique personalities. We call our oldest son, “demo,” not because of the demolition he causes (although that applies 10x), but because he is our first attempt at this parenting thing. He is our demo. I dare to say I’ve learned more in the past seven years than I’ve learned in a lifetime. Raising a family has given us direction, purpose and gray hair. 
 

You think you are the best parent on the planet until you become one. 
 

I’ll never forget the day I realized my parenting style was unconventional. Our oldest was three years old. There is a 100% chance I had already made four million parenting mistakes by this time but we were getting into the swing of things. He is our free spirit child, or better yet, he is “that kid.” It’s delightful and exhausting. His much anticipated preschool musical was sure to be entertaining. Get a bunch of three-year olds on stage with maracas and let the iPhone videos begin. 
 

Every stereotypical behavior you’d assume from a hyperactive toddler boy occurred during these seven minutes on stage. Except ripping his clothes off and streaking. That has happened in many public places but not on this particular day. Rounding the end of their second song, he spots me in the audience recording him. We exchange waves. You know the feeling when you hope everyone notices his adorableness and you sheepishly giggle while visualizing him receiving a Gold Medal for charm.
 

Not five seconds later, he proceeds to interrupt my day dream by shouting, “Mommy, put the phone down!” and motion me to cut it out as if I were embarrassing him. I laughed it off and put my phone away to not distract his Tony winning performance. In my ignorance, I did not realize the gasps of surprise coming from the moms around me. After the kids bowed, our wild child had to be assisted off the stage because he wouldn’t leave the microphones alone. A mom came up to me, 
 

“You sure have your hands full.”

“Yes, he certainly keeps us on our toes.”

“I can’t believe you let him talk to you that way.”

“What do you mean?”

“You can’t let him tell you what to do. Nip that now before it gets worse.”



In complete shock, I didn’t know whether I wanted to crumble or slap her. From a place of pride, I wanted no mom giving me unsolicited parenting advice. I was dumbfounded she felt compelled to walk across the auditorium to tell me anything other than, “our kids are adorable, aren’t they?”

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How to handle parent shaming?


Instead of letting the parent shaming simmer, I took a deep breath and admitted I have done the same thing. I am quick to criticize and justify my judgements because I need validation. Keep In Mind: Looking over the fence and judging a neighbor’s parenting style places you in opposition to God. Our critical spirit steals joy and peace, making it impossible to trust in God’s power. 


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Until next time,
Nick and Laura Mendenhall