A young friend of mine who works full-time and has two young children posted what I think is a sensitive and important message on Facebook. With her permission, I am sharing it with you.
I have seen many posts the past few days that have taken aim at the recent idea of placing something like a cell phone in the back seat of a vehicle as a way to remind parents to not forget their children in the back seat.
Here is what I have to say about that…
PARENTING IS FREAKING HARD! It is exhausting, and some days are better than others. It takes a village to raise children and we live in a world where many parents do not have access to a village, causing them to often be on auto pilot in order to simply survive.
I really urge everyone to take a minute and step down out of their glass houses in order to gain a realistic and compassionate view from every angle.
I have been that mom that was so tired from working full time that I locked my infant in the car.
I have been that mom who has been busy doing 400 million things at one time, who was thankful for any moment of silence, that I could easily have forgotten that my baby was quietly sleeping in the car and continued on my day.
Tearing each other down and shaming parents for using a technique that works for them, thus keeping their children safe, is wrong.
So cheers to the parents who can be authentic enough to say they need help and that some days they need reminders <3
It is so important for parents, grandparents, other caregivers who care about children to listen to this message!
It is important to provide support and compassion for all parents, to appreciate how easily they, just like everyone else, can make a mistake. Sometimes they are minor and at times they have very severe consequences.
Regardless, we all need to appreciate just how easily mistakes can be made. Rather than criticize, we need to embrace their hard work to be the best parents they can be.
And whenever possible, say that to a harried parent. Or a parent who looks tired. Or overwhelmed. Or frustrated. Or scared.
“Parenting sure can be hard at times. You deserve credit for all you do to be the best parent you can be.”
“I’ve been where you are right now, and I know it is tough just to get through a day. Hang in there and know you are doing a good job, even if it doesn’t feel like that right now.”
Remember too how easily a parent who is struggling can feel attacked, shamed or criticized by thoughtless comments on social media. If you see those comments please do what my friend did – speak up in support of parents who are doing the best they can in a job that is 24/7 and filled with many challenges as well as joys.
Invitation to Reflect
- Have you ever been on the receiving end of criticism about your parenting, especially when you know you may have not been showing your best parenting skills? How did it make you feel? What did you do (if anything) to help yourself realize those comments are thoughtless and cruel?
- Can you commit to
- being very mindful about anything you say about the parenting of others, especially on social media?
- stand up and voice positive, compassionate counter-messages when seeing someone post a critical, unkind message?
Diane Wagenhals, Director of Lakeside Global Institutue