Saturday, February 28, 2009

Grace in parenting in public

Recently I heard an older friend comment about how she wishes she would not have been so hard on her children for the sake of her own pride. As soon as she said the comment and started to go on to explain it I was already throwing up defenses and bristling. Why? Because it was already striking a cord and I darn well knew it. Her point was that so often she would be harder on her children in public to keep up the appearance that she was in fact a good mother who could control her children. Inside my head a tiny voice was croaking out "but so many kids are monsters these days, and you must be an example of an effective disciplinarian..." And that last word almost made me gasp. Really? Disciplinarian Court? For crying out loud your kid is only two. And yet how much more likely am I to say oh "no no" over and over again and say it loudly and pompously for other parents to hear. Or even the flip side of it, how often do I try to push her to do things she doesn't want to do just to show off my effective parenting skills? Case in point: 'Can you wave goodbye/hello?' It should be a clue to me that my poor child is already affixed to my leg like some panty-hose that she just might not be feeling like talking to this particular stranger for whatever reason but oh no I want to show that yes, I am teaching my baby to communicate and be polite.

So how to I resist this pressure to perform and show how good at this thing that actually scares the bejesus out of me? How do I have grace for myself and just trust that, guess what, hardly any new mommy has it together and if she thinks she does ha! She'll splat soon enough. Maybe it's a start to call a spade a spade and admit to myself when my veiled attempts and displaying good parenting are actually prideful moments of showing off. And I have a feeling the only 'parenting award' that really matters is that precious little face smiling up at me. 


  1. So true. It's hard to find the balance between appropriately behavior and public performance. I've caught myself doing that too.

  2. Sadly, I am guilty as charged. I am even aware that I'm doing it and yet can't make myself stop. It really does strike a chord, when someone blatantly puts it out there and admits to it like that. My goal for this week is going to be to just say no (to public performance parenting, that is.)

  3. Great post. My husband gets more stern when we're out in public, especially when we're at restaurant. It's the worry that other people are judging you.

  4. This really made me think. I am also hard on my kids. I have gotten a little better though. When my oldest was in Kindergarten she would wear her own outfits. They often did not involve things like socks and brushing her hair was a fight. We were in counseling at the time and the counselor said to me, "what would happen if you just let her." I had a look of fear in my eyes. Was she kidding. I said well how would I look if I let her? She said all you have to do is bring some extras to school and say, you know kids!
    Is it really this easy? I have let up on my oldest some. Most days it is just not worth the fight. I like them to look nice but not if it means we will fight about it.


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  5. I'm so guilty of this in public and until I read your post I never thought anything about it. I mean, who wants other parents to think they couldn't control their kids if you paid them?

    I'm thinking that perhaps it's time to stop thowing my own self-esteem into the mix and let them be kids.

    Thankyou for the post, you opened my eyes today.



Got any random bits of your own?