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Prepping for high school, my Mom was quick to warn me about peer pressure; what it is, why I didn’t need to give in, and how to avoid it altogether. I survived those years and while I’m certain that from time to time I was a victim of group think mentality, for the most part, I was my own person and confident in my decisions. Recently, I have found myself wishing I could tap into the confidence I had as a 14 year old, defending my decisions that 14 year olds are presented with, and apply them to the personal decisions I’ve made in my parenting style.
The decisions that we all must face as a Mom are so difficult and they start from the moment of conception. I remember constantly comparing myself against the acceptable standards of “normal” on so many things:
We all know that it doesn’t stop once your child has arrived either. I find myself measuring against others in terms of childcare decisions, healthy food choices, TV or no TV, the right way to put my son to bed…it never ends. Not only are there so many choices about how to raise our children it seems like there are so many people out there with opinions on what is right for our children.
One thing is for certain, no two Moms are exactly the same any more than two children are exactly the same. As I consider the impossible standards and endless judgments that I feel are constantly being placed on me, I have to wonder if they are real or imaginary. I had never considered this possibility until recently.
Last week, our inbound call center phone lines were down here at The Step® Company and I spent much of my afternoon fielding questions via Facebook. One Mom had quite a few questions so I offered to pick up the phone and give her a call (after all, our outbound lines were working). While on the phone, she was so apologetic for her children in the background. I tried to reassure her explaining that I completely know how it is, I am a Mom too. After changing a DVD for her little one, she followed up with, “After this we will have learning time”. When she offered her children a snack of peanut butter, she followed up with, “Do you want some natural peanut butter and whole wheat bread”. Just when I began to judge my poor decision of having served processed PB & J to my son the night before I stopped myself and developed a new internal dialogue.
What if this Mom was worried that I was judging her for putting her kids in front of the “dummy box”? What if she thought I was horrified at that thought of peanut butter with sugar and additives? Of course, neither of these thoughts had even crossed my mind as I was too busy measuring myself against her superior parenting tactics. I will never know for sure if her comments were for my benefit, for hers, or if neither were at play. But what I did decide after that conversation is that it doesn’t matter.
I’m doing the best for my kids just as she is doing the best for hers. Just as I know it is not my right to judge others most people aren’t out there judging my decisions either. If they are, then good, I’ll give them something to talk about.
Last night, as I went into my son’s room to grab some PJ’s (not while I was putting him to bed, because, “gasp” – he still sleeps with us) I smiled as I read the quote I’d strategically placed over his closet. In the words of the great Dr. Seuss, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”.
Tena and her best friend (and hubby) had their first child in July, 2011. Their little guy has a congenital heart defect and he is one tough little cookie; don’t ever think about calling him sick though – “his plumbing is just different.” Tena is an animal loving vegetarian and is excited to teach her son about compassion and the importance of volunteer work. She secretly hopes her son will be left handed like his momma. She is the Online Marketing Director for Step2.
By Step2 on June 18th, 2012 | Posted in We're Moms Too
Written by Tiffany
As my parents guided my brother and I toward adulthood, one of the lessons they taught us was the power of decision making. They taught us the importance of weighing the choices, considering the consequences and making the best decision possible given the available facts. The understanding was that once the choice was made, my brother and I were responsible for dealing with the consequences. There would be no drama or the decision making power we had been granted would be revoked.
This is a lesson I am trying to teach my six year old Alex. I gave him the option of deciding if he wanted to play outside with his friends before his homework or to do his homework first and play.
We talked through the options. He decided to play first. I gently suggested that maybe he should do his homework first so that he didn’t have to worry about it. He told me that he wanted to play and would do his homework afterward.
I firmly reminded him that I wanted no argument when it was time for homework. He smiled and agreed. Choice made.
Homework time arrived and Alex came in from play. His assignment was to take the week’s spelling words and write each of them in a sentence. The words were bucket, milk and problem.
We reviewed the assignment and I began dinner preparations . I looked over and saw Alex staring at his paper. His jaw firmly set.
“What’s up?” I asked casually.
“I can’t think of anything!” he remarked.
“How about writing that you like chocolate milk?” I asked. He looked at me like I had four heads. “ I don’t know how to spell chocolate” he panicked. Translation – chocolate is too long of a word and I don’t want to write it. I felt my eyebrow inch upward.
Pressing on I said, “How about writing there’s a hole in my bucket?” Yes, I did mutter “Dear Liza, Dear Liza” after saying this.
“I don’t like that!” Alex stated his voice rising into what I refer to as the “whiny octave.” “I can’t think of anything!” he pouted. My eyebrow inched further upward.
“Look, buddy” I stated “You agreed to do homework with no drama tonight. Are you going to freak out about this assignment and throw a fit?”
“Well, yes!” He yelled “I am!”
Eyebrow firmly arched, I debated my options. We were entering the “danger zone.” I could make him sit there and do the homework or I could send him to his room.
I pointed toward his room. This gesture means go to your room and don’t even think about coming out until you have given yourself an attitude adjustment.
Alex glared at me for a moment and then stalked away stomping upstairs. I was in the middle of shouting “And don’t even think about . . .” When boom the door slammed. “Slamming the door!” I finished.
I followed him upstairs, chastised him for slamming the door (I might have said something about doors being a privilege and how I could remove it from the hinges) , told him to never look at me that way again (I might have asked him if he had any clue what his Grandma and Papa would have done if I had dared given them that look) and reminded him to stay in his room until he could act properly.
Several minutes later he came downstairs contritely and sat quietly at the table. He began writing. I wandered over to look at his paper and saw that he had written a sentence for the word “problem.” The sentence read, “I had a problem with my mom.”
It was written beautifully. The letters were formed perfectly and there were no spelling errors.
He looked at me (I think rather smugly) with a sly smile.
“Well, buddy” I replied. “I guess you did.”
And we laughed and all was right again.
I guess I hadn’t planned on his sentence to be my consequence for my decision to send him to his room!
Tiffany is the mother of a curly haired six year old boy who wants to be Batman when he grows up! When she is not engaged in an intense light saber battle, watching Transformers (cartoons and movies), asking her child not to jump from the top step or being told, “you’re playing action figures the wrong way, mom” she contemplates how wonderful it would be if her child were a twin or triplet. Tiffany is the Human Resources Manager for Step2.