When Jack and I were contemplating becoming parents and subsequently created a human, little did we know so many people would have an opinion on how we, and other parents/carers, should raise our babies.
As we made that momentous first buggy push out of the house with our newborn, we'd only made it a few yards before a well-meaning (and I appreciate the difference) person asked us if we were going to put a hat on the baby (it was August, not that we had to justify ourselves!). I'm sure we looked completely perplexed as we started this new chapter in our lives - yes I was hormonal, sensitive and tired and yes we were probably looking rather cautious and delicate being out and about with our precious cargo - but what we were not doing was looking for someone to knock us down from our new parent cloud by pointing out to us what they thought we were doing wrong.
This was just the beginning. As time went on, and I’m sure this is very common, we continued to receive unsolicited advice from people without thinking (or at leat I hope they weren't!) about how we fed, how to get more sleep, how we directed and nurtured our children - and don’t even get me started on the schools debate! Everyone from the lady in the post office to the man walking his dog in the park seems to have an opinion about how to raise other people’s children. But do you know who is judging themselves the most? The parents. The ones who created that child in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, we all judge in one way, shape or form on an array of things every day. It’s normal. It’s part of our human instinct to risk assess. But rather than disempower each other, we need to be giving parents and carers the credit they deserve to decide what is right for themselves and their families. That's right, their families. A unit where anyone outside of it, will never fully understand it's dynamic; whether it's a difference in parenting choices, culture, or structure or a combination of all of those things. I can guarantee they are already feeling insecure enough about all of the decisions they have to make as they muddle through every second of every day with their children at the forefront of their minds.
When asked the question 'Why is it important we should mother (or parent) our own way?', my response is always this: Who knows their children better than anyone else?
So rather than judging one another, we need to be building each other up, encouraging each other every step of the way. We are all learning. We will make mistakes, we will mess up, we may even make wrong choices. Nobody is perfect. It's a standard we will never reach. And besides, it's not perfection we are striving for. It is love. The welfare of our children and doing our best to raise good humans.
To the parents and carers I will always say: Trust your instincts. You are enough. You're a mother (a parent/carer) like other.
And to those that continue to question and criticise others: TRY EMPATHY.