It can be hard to follow through on your own parenting style, when others around you are collectively doing something else. It’s hard when strangers look at you like you’re crazy for implementing some parenting technique, whether it’s enforcing a rule, or letting your child play on the playground with other kids while you’re on a bench watching.
At playgrounds I often have an inner, self-encouraging mantra running, telling myself not to jump into the sandbox, or pointlessly follow ‘my’ kid around on the actual playground. I have to do this because all around me I feel parents judging me for not following their lead of over-parenting (yes, I too judge their over-parenting.) While I love, and will happily play with the girl I watch, I think that she should play at the playground with other kids, not with me.
The other day, while I was out with the girl I nanny, who is now 22-months, I encountered this stranger-judgment. I had two choices, 1. stray from my “parenting style” so as not to be judged, or 2. Maintain my style, and possibly be wrongly judged for it. I chose the latter. While we were walking she (we’ll call her Turtle) decided to set her water bottle on the ground, walk away from it and then demand that I pick it up. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Turtle, can you please pick up your water?
Turtle: No, you pick it up. I need you to pick it up.
Me: Turtle, I’m not going to pick it up. If you don’t want to carry it, bring it to me and I’ll put it in the bag. But you need to pick it up.
At this moment a stranger glared at me and went to pick up the water bottle, I intercepted saying…
Me, to stranger: No, thank you, but I want her to pick up the water bottle.
Stranger: [Disgusted face]
Me: Turtle, you can take your time, but we aren’t going to walk any further until you pick up your water.
2 minutes later….
Turtle picks up her water and brings it to me.
Me: Thank you.
Turtle: You’re welcome.
The moral of the story is, yes, it was hard for me to have this stranger judge me, knowing she probably thinks I’m a terrible, mean, evil caregiver, but I have a specific “parenting” style and so, to maintain consistency, I let the stranger judge me. Plus, I know I’m not a mean, terrible of evil-caregiver, which helps.