‘No-shame parenting’? Forgive me, fellow parents, for I have sinned – azcentral.com
Years ago, I was sitting on the bleachers at a Little League game, talking with the other parents about how busy were all were.
Between school and practice, our 8-year-olds were doing their homework in the backseat of our cars and eating dinner long after their regular bedtimes.
Robin announced she had something to confess. She prefaced it: Ã¢Â€ÂœIt’s so bad.Ã¢Â€Â
The rest of us were silent, spellbound.
Parents love moments like these, when one of us admits to a parenting move so heinous that we feel better about the ones we make ourselves.
All parents do things we know we shouldn’t Ã¢Â€Â“ and regret later. But sometimes the strain of parenting is overwhelming.
I don’t mean the beat-your-kid-with-a-stick kind of cracking. I mean the tell-your-kid-you’ll-pull-the-plug-and-he’ll-be-sucked-down-the-drain-if-he-doesn’t-get-out-of-the-tub kind of cracking.
During SawyerÃ¢Â€Â™s pirate phase when he was 5, I told him heÃ¢Â€Â™d get scurvy if he didnÃ¢Â€Â™t eat his apple slices.
I let him wear the same Ã¢Â€ÂœStar WarsÃ¢Â€Â T-shirt to school three (OK, four) days in a row.
And seriously, was it all that important that he wore underwear everyÃ‚Â day?
These are the kind of parenting moves that we don’t rush to tell our friends but ones that we’ll easily admit if someone tells us theirs first.
On the bleachers that day, Robin leaned forward. We did, too, all at once, like a wave.
She almost whispered: After her boys take showers at night, they put on clean shirts and underwear and wear them to bed. Then, in the morning, they throw on pants and wear the very same underwear and shirts to school.
Robin lowered her eyes and waited for our wrath.
We shrugged collectively. Kim said, Ã¢Â€ÂœWe do that.Ã¢Â€Â We do, too, I told her. So do we, David said. A mom behind us said, Ã¢Â€ÂœThat’s nothing.Ã¢Â€Â
I understand why Robin would have been worried.
When youÃ¢Â€Â™re a parent, no matter what you do, somebody will tell you that you are doing it wrong. Moms and dads often feel judged for the choices they make Ã¢Â€Â” even if they have no other options.Ã‚Â And almost all of the criticism comes from other parents, moms in particular.
So I’m enjoying a newÃ‚Â campaign by Yahoo Parenting that I stumbled across online. It’s aimed at getting parents off each other’s backs. Parents are writing about times they felt judgedÃ‚Â or shamed on social media with the hashtag #NoShameParenting. Some are funny, others sweet.Ã‚Â I foundÃ‚Â myself saying, “Oh, I’ve done that.”
Look, none of us ever gets it all right all the time. I think we criticize each other because we are so worried about our own choices. If you do it differently, does that mean I didn’t do it right?
So I try not to judge.Ã‚Â (But then somebody takes their 3-year-old to a 10:20 p.m. showing of an R-rated movie.) Because I hadn’t been a mom for long beforeÃ‚Â IÃ‚Â realized that I could easily be the mom who gave up and sent her child to school in Spider-man pajamas.
Plenty of times it was me.
Because my kid could pick out a bottle of Toasted Head chardonnay before he could read by the telltale fire-breathing bear on the label.
BecauseÃ‚Â I said aloud that I if I had to play one more game of Ã¢Â€ÂœCandyland,Ã¢Â€Â I would drown myself in Molasses Swamp.
Because he didnÃ¢Â€Â™t learn to tie his shoes until he was 7 because -Ã‚Â hello? –Ã‚Â Crocs.
BecauseÃ‚Â I left a bruise on his shoulder when he was 9,Ã‚Â during a particularly raucous game of Ã¢Â€ÂœSlug Bug.Ã¢Â€Â
Because when my kid woke up with a fever, I dosed him with ibuprofen and sent him to school anyway because I had an important meeting at work.
(Four hours later, after the ibuprofen had worn off Ã¢Â€Â“ and my meeting was over Ã¢Â€Â“ I acted surprised when the school nurse called to report that he was sick.)
Because I let him wear a Batman costume practically every day for a year and a half.
Because I once floated the idea of a device that we could plant on our children, maybe in their fillings or earrings, so that when they goofed off in dance class or hunted for bugs in the outfield, we could push a button on our key fob and Ã¢Â€Â“ zzzzzz Ã¢Â€Â“ our children would receive a low level zap that would put them right back on track.
Because I let him have a pocketknife at 10.
Because on April FoolÃ¢Â€Â™s Day when he was 11, I covered one side of his bunk bed in plastic wrap Ã¢Â€Â”Ã‚Â while he was asleep in it Ã¢Â€Â“ and then called from the doorway that he was late for school.
I could go on and on.
Obviously IÃ¢Â€Â™m not all that ashamed of those things or I wouldnÃ¢Â€Â™t be writing about them, let alone posting them on social media.
The things that I should beÃ‚Â ashamed of as parent are things that probably no one else would notice Ã¢Â€Â”Ã‚Â unlikeÃ‚Â the same Ã¢Â€ÂœStar WarsÃ¢Â€Â shirt four days in a row.
The times I rushed him because I was in a hurry.
The timesÃ‚Â I put my job before him.
The times I criticized him unfairly.
The times I compared him to an overachieving friend.
The times I made a big deal out of something little.
The times I paid too little attention to something big.
The times I realized too late that he was trying to tell me something.
The times I didnÃ¢Â€Â™t say I was sorry.
The times I wanted him to be different.
The times I thought he should be more like me.
The times I didn’t think he was big enough.
The times I thought he was bigger than he really was.
Because now he’s bigger than I ever believed he could be. And I’m not ashamed about anything he isÃ‚Â Ã¢Â€Â” or anything I did to get him there.