How many of you have let your sons spend time with relatives and good willing friends who have no children of their own only to hear afterwards a list of critical comments about your sons’ upbringing?
Have you experienced the feeling of wanting to hide in a dark cave when your childless sister-in-law/cousin/sister/friend etc…tells you how wonderfully your sons behaved when they spend time with her in contrast to their unruly behavior when you are around?
If your answer to the above questions is Yes!, then this post is dedicated to you…or more precisely, to the inner you…the ‘you’ that needs to become more confident and stand up to the judgments and not let them take place!…or if you can’t stop the criticism, then, please, don’t let it hurt you.
Here is how usually the story goes. A person who has no children of their own has all the best intentions to prove to themselves and you, the real mother, that they can still do the parenting job as soon as they can get access to your children. In the mind of those good-willing ‘parenting volunteers’ all the answers to all possible parenting dilemmas are there, because their text book knowledge is unique. They have read all the self-help books, they have watched all the popular psychology TV shows and done quite a bit of Internet research based on their own childhood experiences, traumas or psychological problems, and most importantly have observed closely many parents from the outside. This makes them feel like real experts ready to lecture others on the proper parenting guidelines while at the same time they have forgotten that they are missing the key ingredient!!!… Hands on experience!
I am always amazed at how quickly unqualified people give unsolicited advice overstepping boundaries and trying to outsmart the real experts. Is it just me who thinks that the subject of parenting is always open to everyone and anyone for discussion even when they have no idea what they are talking about? Why don’t they put aside their opinions and leave the parenting to the real experts, like say the parents???
I have no knowledge of Astrophysics and would never even dream of giving advice on the subject to anyone who has studied this subject and works with it everyday, so I tend to respect the experience, methods and opinions of those people who undertake this task day in day out and don’t jump into conclusions about their tactics in an area that I am totally ignorant about. That’s why I am deeply disturbed by the number of friends and clients who share with me their complaints about the judgment they receive from childless female friends and family members. Why do these women behave like this? Could it be jealousy that we the mothers have something they don’t? Could it be an overconfidence that they could do a better job if only they were given the chance? Could it be sheer stupidity and lack of respect for other women’s lives and parenting choices?
Whatever the reason may be, there is one thing for sure…when these women in front of the boys criticize the mothers of those boys ( verbally or through indirect sarcasm or comments or through body language) the damage to those boys is greater than any other kind of possible mistake the mother herself has made with them. It usually happens this way…I don’t know why the timing is so unfortunate, when the friend will somehow attack the mother’s parenting style in front of her sons, almost in a way of scoring points against her, with the patronizing look in the eye like “I may not have kids but I can do better!” If only these women realized how disappointing is for the boys (they think they are helping) to hear that their mother, their hero, their day to day carer, friend, indispensable life connector, is not good enough!!!
How dare they destroy these boys’ happy world by taking the mother off her pedestal and upsetting the balance? Have they not realized that by making the mother so ‘small’ in front of her own sons, they start chopping away her authority and encouraging further disrespect towards her from these two – three future men that she is trying to raise? Is this how we are going to stop men’s disrespect towards women?…by making the women ‘small’ in the eyes of their own sons through criticism that comes from other women? How sad is that!!!
I am not saying that all mothers are perfect and that they make no mistakes or that their parenting skills could not be improved. Of course, there is always room for learning and becoming better and most of the mothers who take their role seriously look out for constructive advice and criticism from people or sources they trust and respect. So if these mothers come to you and ask you for your opinion, please, do give it to them in the absence of their sons and do point out to them what mistakes they may be making in an empowering way, without harsh accusations. Remember, you are not in their shoes and you will never quite clearly understand what they may be going through every day juggling many different roles.
If, however, mothers don’t come to you seeking advice or are not willing to hear your opinions about their sons’ upbringing, no matter how close you think you may be to them or to those sons, please, hold your tongue and choose the right moment to approach the subject in a way that does not come across as judgment. Remember that every mother has the best interests of her child in heart and she cares more than you who is just watching with a critical eye from the outside. Even what you would call a ‘bad mother’, for her boy she still is a treasure, a hero, his first love, and she deserves to hold her place that high up in his esteem for as long as possible.
Ladies, please, stop hurting other women! Our position in the world will never change if we ourselves don’t start behaving better around the men we raise…
Thank you for your understanding,
photo credit: fabQuote.co