It’s Christmas time and for many of us, that means seeing relatives that we haven’t seen in a year. When your parenting style is different from the mainstream and your choices are less than conventional, it can lead to difficult conversations arising. With grandparents and relatives from older generations, the things you are doing can seem quite bewildering, and they often (In my experience) feel that they need to tell you where you are going wrong!
As your child’s parent, the only person you need to answer to is yourself. If you don’t feel that you want to get in to the benefits of full term breastfeeding, co sleeping with an older child, home education or whatever it is that you as a family do differently, then don’t feel you have to. Sometimes it can turn in to a fun debate which can inspire others to make changes of their own, but other times it can lead to you being ganged up on by a group of people who disagree with your style of parenting. Spending the whole day defending yourself is draining, and not at all fun!
A conversation with my Grandfather last night (the first of our four day celebrations) went like this-
Him – “So, how old is he now?” Gesturing to my son at my breast.
Me – “He turned two last month.” Smiling back.
Him – “Then its time you stopped feeding him then.”
Me – Politely and sweetly – “Why?”
After a moments thought he said uncomfortably “Because he might get used to it!”
To which I replied “He already is and we are quite happy with it.”
And that was the end of that.
By being confident in your parenting choices and turning their concerns back on to them, you can stop the stock phrases in their tracks. Asking the question “Why?” turns the focus back on to them and they will likely struggle to find a valid argument to support their case. Instead of getting defensive and feeling frustrated and angry, you can rise above it and simply question what makes them feel this way. After all, the issue is theirs, not yours.
I have found that a simple and confident “We are all very happy doing it this way.” works wonders for bringing the conversation to a close when I feel like my choices are becoming a subject open to criticism.
So this Christmas, remember the reasons behind your parenting choices and stand proudly. You are doing the best you can for your children and you don’t need to explain yourself to anybody. Save your complaints of tiredness or whatever issues you have for people who will support you rather than judge and blame you, and instead find a subject that you can have an enjoyable and fulfilling conversation about with your relatives, making the most of your time together.
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