Choosing Respect

By: Sandra L. Churchill

Recent encounters at playgrounds, grocery stores, and libraries have brought me into conversations with parents who work full-time, part-time, or as stay-at-home moms and dads. I frequently connect with homeschoolers, traditional schoolers, and private-schoolers. My teaching and playdates span accommodations for ADHD, gluten-free, and lactose-intolerance, and I observe discipline styles that range from anything-goes to near militant. Sometimes I’m Playgroundsubjected to direct advice—wanted or not—on the ins and outs of time-scheduling, menu planning, discipline styles, video games, television, and social commitments for our family. Other times I’m privy to conversations or comments overheard at the playground, on the sports field, or school pick-up lines.

Overheard recently…

  • “We don’t do television. No shows, no DVDs, I don’t believe in it.”
  • “Our boys get an hour of video games a day—that’s it.”
  • “No soda. No sugar. We don’t allow any junk food.”
  • “You have to give them some treats—a cupcake here and there isn’t going to corrupt anybody.”
  • “I only buy organic for my family.”
  • “I don’t believe in telling my child ‘no’.”
  • “Time-outs are the only way to go.”
  • “I asked my child to share his lunch with his sister, but he just won’t.”
  • “He has trouble listening. I don’t know what to do.”
  • “You have to be strict at bedtime. They should be in bed at the same time every night.”
  • “We don’t believe in bedtimes. They’ll go to sleep eventually.”
  • “I can’t get her to do her homework.”
  • “At our house, homework is first. No play time until the homework is done.”

Here’s what I take from this. Full-time, part-time, or stay-at-home—all styles have valid pros and cons that vary within each family. Nutrition—organic, vegetarian, strict or more relaxed—varies from child to child. Television, video games, and structured bedtimes are handled differently house to house, parent to parent. What works for you may not work for me. I truly believe most parents do their very best to raise their children with love, compassion, and a commitment to bring out the best in their sons and daughters.

What is often destructive in our rocky quest of parenting is competition, criticism, and misunderstanding, however unintentional. I’ve watched moms in the full-time working camp attack stay-at-home moms and vice versa. I’ve seen TV enthusiasts praise educational programs and get judged by the TV-free families and vice versa. The occasional drive-through dinner receives condemnation by health enthusiasts but the time-crunched parent feels misunderstood when a 12-hour day leaves families running from school to work to sports practice without a break.

Can we agree to disagree? As moms and dads, we’re giving our best energy to parent—not everybody’s children, but our own. Nobody knows the ups and downs of your family routine better than you. What we need is teamwork, respect, and support. So as a fellow team-mate for moms everywhere, let’s cheer each other on with a resounding rally cry of support.

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