Laura de Medici-Bentley: Take parenting journey one day at a time
It was the most talked about video last week: the footage of “Baltimore Mom” smacking her son for rioting.
I saw the video through a post on Facebook. It had over 1 million views and thousands of comments. Most of the commenters applauded her for her raw, “old-school approach,” while others empathized with the son, feeling he had been humiliated unnecessarily.
Suddenly, the “Mommy Wars” ensued. The comments were no longer related to the video — people had started their own heated debates about some of the “hot topics” of parenting. I remember one exchange in particular:
“She shouldn’t’ve humiliated him like that,” one comment read. Immediately, another Mom replied, “You must be one of those Moms who tries to use ‘Time Outs’ for everything.”
The original poster then replied, “So you think hitting your child is the answer? I feel sorry for your kids!”
These moms went on for several more comments to talk about why her way was “better,” and how she would “never“ use the other mom’s approach to parenting.
This raises an important question: why do so many of us jump at the opportunity to judge another parent — even someone we’ve never met?
Perhaps criticizing different parenting styles makes us feel more secure about our own.
I’ve fallen into the “I would never” trap a few times and ended up having to eat my words. I swore that I would never let Livia watch TV or play with an iPad for the first 2 years of her life. It made me feel good when I’d tell people I wasn’t going to be “one of those parents” who introduces technology at such a young age. This lasted until Livia was almost a year old. Nowadays, I don’t see any harm in a little “screen time” here and there. She loves watching PBS Kids, and her favorite app is one that teaches Italian.
I’ve stopped worrying about being “one of those parents” because I am one of those parents. We all are.
I’ve learned that what works with my child one day may not work the next. While I’m all about consistency when it comes to raising Livia, I can’t deny that certain situations warrant different responses.
For example, I don’t use “time-outs.” However, one day, Livia was really wound up and began to throw just about everything in sight, thinking it was hilarious. Redirecting her wasn’t working, and I was beginning to lose my patience. I picked her up, sat her on a step, and told her she needed to sit there. I walked away, and she sat there, surprised, for 2 minutes. Turns out, that “break” was just what she needed. She calmed down, and I was able to talk her through what happened — as best as one can with a toddler.
It dawned on me — was what I had just done a “time out?”? If so, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I never used to hesitate to get on my soapbox and talk about why “time=outs” made a child feel isolated during a time of need, and I said I would “never” use them. However, in that situation, it worked. I wasn’t any less of a parent, and she wasn’t any less happy. I still don’t plan on using them on a regular basis, but I won’t be so quick to turn up my nose at what other parents do.
As I think about my experiences, I don’t only think about “Baltimore Mom,” I think about every other parent who has been judged or who has judged someone else.
We often judge others to give ourselves reassurance that we are on the right track.
If your child is loved, healthy and happy, and you have your child’s best interests at heart, then you are. Let’s try to keep our minds open and remember that we are all taking our parenting journey one day at a time, just like the next parent.
Laura de Medici-Bentley, of Winchester Virginia, is a former early childhood educator who currently enjoys staying home with her [almost] 2-year-old daughter. She is an author of a personal blog, CiaoMommy.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org