I’m a perfectionist by nature, so I’m always my own worst critic.
It doesn’t matter what I’m doing – writing, proofreading, jogging, doing the dishes. I will usually find something wrong with my approach, my technique, my dedication or my actual ability to perform the task, and I will not be satisfied with the outcome.
So it’s not surprising that I constantly second-guess myself when it comes to parenting Ashleigh. What I find surprising is that practically everyone does it.
Certainly, every parent I’ve spoken to does it. We second-guess our parenting decisions. Especially those of us that approach the parenting journey with preconceived ideals and notions about how it will be done, and then find that our child isn’t made-to-order.
Somewhat surprisingly for a perfectionist, I didn’t bring many plans or ideas to this parenting caper. Not having been particularly ‘mummish’ or clucky earlier in my life, I didn’t have any romantic, cloud- and rainbow-infused dreams of what motherhood would be like. In fact, I was a little scared. Mostly in a good way, but also in an ‘I really hope I don’t break my baby’ way.
But I learned quickly – very quickly – that everyone around me had an opinion. On everything. All the time.
And they still do.
Most people mean well. They’re simply offering advice, assuming you’ll be grateful to hear it.
Some don’t mean well. Or they don’t take it well if you disagree, or if you don’t instantly act on their advice. Some actually seem to take it personally if you haven’t approached parenthood in the exact same manner that they have. As if you’ve based every parenting decision you’ve made on doing the opposite of what they have.
They don’t realise that you may have researched the subject to the nth degree. That you may have considered the viewpoint they’re putting forward – perhaps even tried it – and decided it’s not right for you and your family. That you may have seen parenting styles you like and are combining your favourite bits. And yes, that you may have seen parenting styles you don’t like and have ruled out certain approaches.
Or even that circumstances beyond your control dictate some of your decisions.
And – most importantly – that every child is different, every family is different, and everyone has to do what works for them.
We’ve made decisions for Ashleigh on a range of things. Food, drink, sleeping arrangements, entertainment, activities, television… blah blah blah. The most important thing? We love her and we keep her safe. When you get down to it, none of the other stuff really matters.
So if you have an opinion on someone’s parenting decision(s), wait to be asked for it. Because we parents give ourselves a hard enough time without layering everyone else’s opinions and judgements on top.
What do you think? Are you your own worst critic?