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Believe it or not, becoming a first time grandma has been a bit of a learning experience. As a new mother back in the day, I would call my mother almost daily with, what do I do about___, is the baby ok if he is ___ or why won’t he stop crying, the list goes on. I don’t know what I would have done without her and the knowledge she acquired after raising three kids herself. And of course, she always had the right answers.
Well things are different now. Parents today are reading more books, (and there are many with different parenting approaches – in my day we only had Dr. Spock), blogging with other parents and reading articles online about what babies should be doing at every stage. Needless to say, to us older more mature parents/grandparents, some of the techniques that these young parents (my son included) are using today make you want to scratch your head and go, what? Oh, and don’t offer your opinions if they are to the contrary – they do not want our opinions or our advice. My son made it very clear that he did not want any advice, as they were getting it from so many directions, including friends that never had children. I told him that I am entitled to my opinions and if he didn’t like them, he didn’t have to follow them.
Since it was made clear to me that my advice was not welcome, I have made a concerted effort to not give any out of respect for my son’s wishes. (Of course I slip every now and then – it’s such a natural instinct for us isn’t it?) What I have learned from this is that rather than telling them what you think they should be doing, I find it is much more effective to show them or make subtle comments. And then low and behold, I will see or hear him doing something that I did or subtly mentioned in passing. Needless to say, because of the distance between us, these cases are far and few between (although Skyping helps). My son has even thanked me at times for the way I would turn my granddaughter’s tears to laughter during a Skype session.
I believe our children want our advice, it’s just in how we present it.
Sharon became a first time grandma in February of 2011 and had the pleasure of celebrating her granddaughter’s first birthday in San Francisco where she lives with her oldest son and his wife. Sharon welcomes the opportunity to spoil her granddaughter after having raised two boys. Sharon is an avid lover of the arts and has dabbled with oil painting and enjoys interior decorating as a hobby. She is the Customer Service Manager for Step2.
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.