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How often do you wonder what other people think of you? What they think of your parenting? It’s something that most of us struggle with right?
When your kid is on the floor of the supermarket, do you cast an anxious glance? Do you listen for whispers? Are people looking at you? Of course you do. Even the most self-assured mom does this. We are, after all, social creatures, and we care about what other people think about us.
But it hurts, doesn’t it? Whenever our kids act out in public, we feel a little bit smaller. In some cases, I’ve felt a whole lot smaller! And it’s not always something we easily shake off.
Related: 5 Hacks to survive the terrible twos
Define your success as a mom yourself!
I very much want to share something with you, moms, that has helped me in these situations. Rather than accepting someone else’s opinion about your parenting, you can form your own opinion and stick to that one instead. Define your success as a mom yourself. Because accepting someone else’s definition about your parenting skills, rather than your own definition, might leave you feeling inadequate. In the worst case it might leave you feeling (even more) overwhelmed for long after the incident took place. Which is a shame, because the only opinions that matter are yours and your kids’!
Why this is important for the overwhelmed mom
There is so much pressure nowadays, with less social cohesion in real life and the high expectations on social media. So much pressure to be the perfect mom (and if I can do it, you can too!).
The kids must look nice and clean.
They must eat healthily always.
No too much screen time!
Don’t you yell!
Play with your kids.
The list goes on and on! I get tired just looking at it.
How many mothers truly live up to this perfection, do you think? And stay happy!
What example does that perfection set towards your kids? When my kids grow up, I want them to be themselves. I do not want them to believe they have to live up to some pretty picture to be deemed good enough.
And, moreover, how many kids have truly suffered from their otherwise loving moms being less than perfect?
Before we get into my tips on how to define your success yourself and suffer less overwhelm and stress at other (irrelevant, I might add) people’s opinions, first some truths as I see them.
Some truths about people who think they need to have an opinion about your parenting
Before we get into how to define your success, I want to just highlight a few more things. So please bear with me.
Now, let me start by saying that there are (one should hope) people in your environment who really mean well, such as your best friend or your mom. This isn’t about them. This is about the people who shouldn’t matter so much. The ones you see at the grocery store giving you the stare. Those people. The ones that are, or should be, by and large irrelevant in your life.
So, some truths:
- Remember that those people are the poorer for their negative view of others;
- Pity them for their judgmental character and think of how poor their lives must be;
- They don’t know the context of what your day has been like. Or what you are trying to reach with your kids upbringing;
- It must be soo tiring to have negative opinions about people you don’t even know.
I feel I need to add some nuance here, because I also believe that how you treat people says a lot about you as a person. I don’t treat other people as objects. I don’t treat them as abstract things that don’t have feelings or deserve respect. The nuance I want to inject here, is that these people are just other human beings who have their own back story (maybe they had a really, really tough day at work and this is why your kids are annoying them so much). You meet these people randomly, but you remain strangers to each other.
So be polite, and be emphatic, and then use the truths above to put these people back into the proper perspective. Feel for them, be emphatic, don’t hate.
Another truth: plenty of people are parents
You know, all those people who are not looking at you. There’s a good chance that they are also parents. And, unlike the elderly lady who is whispering about how well behaved her kids always were, she probably wasn’t working outside of the home on top of parenting. Or maybe her kids were particularly meek. Most of those other people, however, are also parents. They know the tantrums and the stubbornness. They know. You are not the only one with a toddler on the supermarket floor (there’s a reason why these examples are all such classics, you know).
Incidentally, my mother-in-law doesn’t remember my husband ever crying as a baby. Hmhm. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with my kids or my parenting when my kids cried as babies. Just means that she doesn’t remember.
The one thing you should worry about
When you define your success as a parent there’s definitely one thing that I believe should be in your thoughts. In one word, the one thing you should worry about is love. If you want two words: unconditional love. Now, please don’t confuse that with spoiling your kids, because that’s a completely different thing. But kids do need love above all else and in all circumstances. So, when you’re in that supermarket and people have an opinion about you, start here: You love your kids, even when they’re on the supermarket floor. And that’s a really good thing.
My trick to let other people’s opinions of my parenting just slide off me
Well, I’m bragging here; I’ve never been good at letting other people’s opinions slide off me. That’s why I’m writing this post! But I know what helps.
Here’s how this works: someone has an opinion. And that opinion is strong enough for them to voice is one way or another. So that’s what you’ve got now, a crappy opinion. How do we fix that? By making sure you have an opinion of your own that is stronger and more truthful to you. Something you believe in.
You define your success as a mom, by defining your own, better, opinion of how you parent. Replace the crappy opinion, with one that is informed and matters.
That way, you can think: yes, my kids are screaming and not looking too great right now. But I believe that they should learn to handle their emotions. I also believe that no is no and I’m not making it a yes just to appease things right now. Because I’m right. And I know I’m right.”
Read on for tips on how to define your success.
Know how you raise your kids
To get to where you can say this to yourself and mostly discard other people’s opinions about your parenting, you need a strong foundation on which you base your actions. Kids will be what they are and act accordingly. You can’t change that. What you can change is how you respond. Having a strong belief about how you want to raise your kids trickles down into your action.
What do you hope to give your kids?
This is one of the questions I ask myself to determine how I parent. What do I want to give to my kids? You see, you can view the melt-down in the grocery store as a bad thing. And I admit, it’s not the most elegant thing to do. But think of it as this way, how many successful people do you know whose main character trait is meekness? Are will-power and grit things you want to give to your kids? Then keep that in mind next time things don’t go quite as planned. Because this is how kids’ personalities evolve.
Where do you want to be 3 years from now?
The place you don’t want to be, is one where you still bribe your kids into silence every time you set foot in to a store. You don’t want to bend to other people’s wills and end up being where you didn’t want to be in three years.
So, where are you going? Do you want your children to be obedient? Do you want them to have some measure of self control in three years time? See yourself as being on a path to somewhere, and know that the steps you are taking are leading you someplace. Also know, that you don’t need other people’s consent for that.
What are your parenting values?
Last, but surely not least on the path to define your success, what are your parenting values?
What do you believe is right? How do you believe you should lead your life? Are you passing that on to your children? Knowing what your values are can make such as difference in how you respond to situations. Again, this links to what you truly believe in! Belief is such a strong force. Knowing your parenting values and basing your decisions on them, rather than on other people’s opinions, will leave you sure of yourself. Sure that you are doing the right thing, even if it isn’t popular at the time. This will have a great impact in how you feel when you’re confronted with other people’s opinions of your parenting.
Let me know how you’re doing. And make sure you define your success, don’t let someone else define it for you!