I will start by saying I absolutely love and adore my own mom. She taught me almost everything I know, and she is an amazing woman who worked her tail off for our family while I was growing up. However, as I am sure many can relate, our relationship has definitely shifted since I became a mom myself. Recently, there have been some strains on our relationship due to what I will call a difference in parenting ideas. So that got me thinking…do moms really always know best?
My mom has always been my biggest fan and loudest cheerleader; deep down, I know she thinks I am a good mom to my kids. But over the last year or two, she has made repeated comments about my kids’ behavior, how my husband and I handle discipline and parenting struggles, and various interjections that rubbed me the wrong way. I felt compelled to remind my mom that parenting today has changed dramatically since the days that she and my dad parented my sister and me. I also had to remind her that we both work full time, and she was a stay-at-home mom until we went to kindergarten. I know that she means well and is just trying to help, but I get increasingly frustrated when she makes those little comments. After all, don’t I know my kids better than anyone?
One of many examples that have come up recently: every parenting book and blog I have read suggests that during the toddler years, give them many opportunities to make choices and have some independence whenever possible. So we often give our kids options regarding dinner, clothes, and various other daily tasks to help ease the power struggle. One day, my mom said, “I think you give them too many choices. You are the parent. You tell them what to do,” and I almost blew up. I explained to her that when she was growing up and even while she was raising us, kids were “seen and not heard,” which is a very different philosophy compared to today’s parenting ideals. And to be honest, we are comparing apples to gummy bears because those are two totally different times that cannot even compete with one another.
Looking for a sounding board, I reached out to one of my online groups for advice and got some really great suggestions that I am excited to try out. Some of the ideas included setting clear boundaries with my mom and basically just shutting down the entire conversation of parenting tips. I think that is the one I would like to try but knowing my mom, she may take it to heart too much, and I may end up hurting her feelings. And it’s not that I don’t value her input or opinions, but there is a 40+ year difference between when she was parenting young children and today–things are just not the same as they used to be. I am not talking about saying “please and thank you” or cleaning up after themselves; those are things that I was taught and will continue to instill in my own children. When it comes to discipline, handling tantrums, and managing chaos, we just don’t see eye to eye, which creates a bit of tension.
I must remember that my mom does not live with me, so she only sees snapshots of what is happening. She is also retired and enjoying a more relaxing lifestyle when currently, my life is like a scene out of a Ringling Brothers Circus. I love my mom more than anything and truly think she has a huge wealth of knowledge that can be useful in some situations. But at this point, I will have to agree to disagree with her and avoid getting myself too riled up when she offers advice.
Moms know a lot, but maybe they don’t always know what’s best for every situation.