Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Hardest Job of All

Being a parent is a lot of work.

I think I just made the understatement of my life. Similar to saying I'm sort of tired and I work a lot and Our house is a little messy.

Parenting is intensely rewarding. The milestones, the memories, the overwhelmingly happy moments.

But it is also grueling and many times, thankless. There are no gold stars, promotions, or pay raises. Sometimes it feels like there's not even any seniority.

I'm pretty sure that most parents would agree with me.

Which is why I don't understand why we are so quick to criticize each other.

Obviously there are things that are completely wrong. But most things are just a matter of style.

So when I get comments from other parents like You let your children eat processed wheat and sugar before they were a year old (or ever.) or You let them stay up past 8 pm or You let them play in the fully fenced backyard by themselves or You whatever, I don't understand.

Most of us are doing the best we can. Very few of us are perfect parents. There will be speed bumps and potholes along the way. There are for everyone. So criticizing each other for little things like when we introduced cow's milk or what time we set for bedtime doesn't make a lot of sense.

I was having lunch with some medical school friends several years ago and we talked about our childhood. Someone talked about how they had their own organic garden and never owned a television and went to the best private school. Another friend shrugged her shoulders and said that she had been raised on after school specials, white bread, and Twinkies. The funny thing is, we all ended up in the same place.

I do try to limit television, encourage fruits and vegetables, and develop creativity and curiosity. Do they watch more television than I would like? Yes. Do they always go to bed on time? No. Do they end up crying over having to eat green beans and snarf down donuts? Yes.

But I think that as long as I love my children and am involved in their lives, that counts for more than anything else.


  1. I don't even have kids but I get so frustrated when I see parents criticizing each other for simple choices. There are some basic things that should and shouldn't happen, but, for the most part, dietary choices and discipline are different for everyone. There's no right or wrong way.

  2. Oh Thank you Katherine. EVERY parent should read this. You are so right. I love what you said about your medical school all did end up in the same place. I often think about that as well when talking to other parents and listening to them "Preach" their perfect parental philosophies.

    Often nights, I lay in bed and pray that I am doing what is best for my children and this work is leading them down the right path. I often dwell on the little things that I do wrong or they do wrong or aren't going according to MY plan. My children are happy, healthy, and love their "perfect" little lives, so for that I am happy and very thankful.

    You are raising amazing boys!!! Thanks again for posting this.

  3. I agree! I may be fairly obsessed with health food and whatnot, but that is US. I have to place criticizing other people's parenting - esp when there are so many better reasons to criticize people. LOL. Just kidding of course. It's not about one aspect of your parenting style, it's about the overall life you give to your children. And, for the most part, everyone else can just butt the heck out.

  4. How's Bug liking Secret Garden?
    Sometimes maybe folks need to show off that they have learned something healthy or constructive, or they know and do something right. But you're right, using the critical approach (preaching to the choir) doesn't exactly warm anyone up to the idea if you shot down their pet duck in the process. As you know, I'm opinionated and critical and I think you'r an amazing parent. I think parents in general are amazing and I have sooooo much to learn from everyone.