Thursday, 16 May 2013

It may take a village, but they're still my kids

A few weeks ago I wrote about the people that feel it necessary to comment on the way in which I choose to ride a bike, and that it's really none of their business. Well, if you're a parent, like me, you may find you've been in similar situations when it comes to childrearing. A friend through Twitter once said "Riding a bike and being a parent are very similar: there's always someone who thinks you're doing it wrong", and it's amazing how true that is. Since the birth of our daughter, nearly seven years ago, my husband and I have had people around us, family, friends or complete strangers, offering comments or advice on how to be successful parents. Many times, that advice is warranted, even requested, and has been quite helpful to get us through trying times. I am aware that I'm not an expert, and every day is another potential challenge or learning experience. Raising children truly does take a village.

What I take issue with is the people that comment on my parenting because they think I'm doing it wrong. That, somehow, they know better how to deal with my children. With some of the "advice" we've endured over the past seven years, if I didn't know better I would think it's a miracle our children have survived each day. From our vegetarian lifestyle, how we travel by bicycle, babysitting, and even the way in which we walk with each other when out in the city, other adults have felt that we could be doing it better, and have been vocal about it.

Let's face it, we, as a society, do hold some very strong opinions about how others should behave. It's what makes us human, our ability to look at certain situations and actions and decide how we would best deal with them, and it is what forms our personalities and guides our actions. But another human trait that I feel is being lost, is having the social grace and understanding to know when perhaps you should keep your opinions to yourself. As someone who lives car-free, sure I have strong personal convictions about the level of car dependence in our society, but I am not about to chastise people, family, friends or otherwise, simply because they have chosen to live differently from me.

And that's what it's about; having the freedom to choose. Over the course of my daughter and son's lives, my husband and I have made choices about how we raise our children, the activities we do together, the food we eat and so on. When we need help or advice, we are very willing to ask for it, because sometimes we don't always know the best course of action. We are also there for those who ask our opinions as well, offering advice or counsel without casting judgement.

My babies and I, Mother's Day 2013

Since 2006, I have been lucky enough to raise not one but two pretty amazing children with the help of an amazing partner, and a large support group spread all over the globe. We have had challenges, and at those times we have always been grateful to have help from our friends and family. But through the successes and challenges, I have watched my son and daughter become adventurous, mindful and happy children, and while I know my husband and I can't take all the credit for that, I also am aware that they are my kids. The responsibility for them lies on the shoulders on my husband and I, and as far as I can tell, we are definitely doing something right!


  1. Yes, you are bang on with this!

    I'm sure that if you tried to suggest to people how to raise their children, or that your way was better, they would get upset too.

    I'm sure all parents have been faced with this issue raising their children, but when you do things differently to the norm people feel it is open season on comments and criticism. I have had to be strong against people in my family and larger community because of our parenting choices and it has not been easy. I've ruffled feathers. I know that my mother feels my choices are an indictment of her parenting and she feels passively judged. In the end I have to know that it doesn't matter and I am doing things the best way for my family. Yeah it still bugs me though.

    1. Thanks for the read! It is certainly difficult, but then I truly appreciate those adult conversations I have with other parents where we know we feel differently, but can still discuss those differences in a positive, intelligent way without feeling defensive or judged.