The day my nine-month-old fell off the bed, a friend was over. We were chatting in the hallway, sorting clothes to donate.
I’d set him down on his back, sure he was in a good spot. I briefly hesitated, but knew it would only be a minute or two, and satisfied myself with that.
A loud thump, followed by a shriek, sent me and my friend flying to the bedroom. She got to him first, and scooped him up, then passed him to me. His face was red, a bump was already growing on his forehead, and my heart broke. How could I let this happen?
At the same time, other thoughts battled their way into my head, thoughts about my friend. What was going through her mind? She must think I’m so irresponsible! I wonder if she thinks this happens a lot. What if she doesn’t think I’m a good mom?
Amid my worry and the chaos of a screaming baby, those thoughts still crept in. We tried to figure out what to do next. He seemed sleepy; we kept him awake. I called a nurse hotline at our hospital. The nurse told me not to worry, just to monitor him for fever or if he acted strangely. I worried about her tone as well as she took down my name. What if she thinks I’m a child abuser, or negligent? What if she reports me?
My little guy turned out just fine. He had a bruise for a couple of days, but otherwise, he hasn’t had any problems. Even my doctor reassured me that he was okay.
What hasn’t gone away is my fear and downright paranoia about what other people think of me in my parenting. I fear the comments, but worse, I fear what’s going on behind their eyes as they nod and talk with me, as I tell them about his separation anxiety and how I deal with it, or his transition into walking, which is going slowly. My question is usually, “Am I doing it right?”
Which, if you think about it, is a silly question.
Who parents “right?” Why am I worried about whether or not people think I am doing it “right?” There are some specific things that I think we can all agree are wrong in parenting, but there are a lot of ways to do it “right.”
So the question we should be asking instead is:
Are you doing what’s best for your child, the best way you can?
In that situation, for example, I did what was best for me, but not necessarily for my son. I made a mistake on that front. But afterwards, to the best of my ability, I did what I thought was best for him in dealing with the consequences of my actions.
How do I find out what is best? I go to the best sources – in health, for example, I go to his doctor. In raising him, in building his character, in the day-to-day things, I go first to what the Bible says, and next to friends who have more experience than I.
It’s not to say that I take every bit of advice – not everything that works for someone else will work for our family – but I can hear it with an open mind, without fear of judgment, if it’s more about what’s best for him, and what I can do with the best of my ability.
Lastly, it’s also something I need to remember when it comes to other people. Instead of being critical of their choices, I have to remember they are also trying to do the best they can for their child, to the best of their ability. Being critical only fuels my own insecurity, and it just makes me a negative person!
People-pleasing and insecurity are two things I have always struggled with, and probably always will. But at the end of the day, we are all trying to do the best we can. No one is necessarily doing it “the right way.” There are lots of “right ways” to parent.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
How do you keep from being worried about what others think about your parenting?
About the Author: Jenn Schultz – wife, momma, follower of God, lover of coffee and classic movies. My goal is to make life an adventure, right here and now. Find me at What You Make It, my blog all about making life an incredible adventure, no matter what your circumstances. Make it creative, exciting, beautiful, faithful, connected, and absolutely you. Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter or Google+.
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