news item: “Don’t Say This: The Cruelest, Most Ignorant Parenting Cliche”

Has the following phrase ever been uttered to you?

“You can never get that time back.”

This cliché can be applied to a variety of scenarios, but I would hazard to guess that it is generally said to a parent who is working outside of the home / not getting to spend as much time as “possible” with his/her baby for whatever reason. It also seems to imply that all of that time is enjoyable with your child…which if one is being honest, is just not the case, and that’s okay. Parenthood is hard.

The writer of this article openly admits in the comments that the title of the article was perhaps “a little sensationalistic” (because of course we can all think of words that would feel crueler to us – especially with our ALI backgrounds), but I think she makes a lot of great points.

…the biggest reason why [the phrase above] deserves a permanent heave-ho is that its usual meaning of “spend every moment with your infant” reflects woeful ignorance of the realities of raising children across the course of their entire development.

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The same people who put such a premium on being around to change their children’s diapers are in for a big surprise if they think they can lessen their vigilance come middle-childhood and teenage time, who think that time together is somehow less crucial.

The most frustrating part, for me, is the inherent judgment that the cliche implies. One would hope that we are all making the best choice possible when it comes to parenting our children, but what works for you doesn’t necessarily work the best for me, so please quit judging me!

I’m not saying that being with your baby as much as humanly possible isn’t noble or ideal. In fact, it is — it’s so, so important. But it’s all important. All those years. They’re all mind-bendingly, heart-breakingly important. And the good parents are the ones who take the whole picture into account and respect other parents trying to find their way the best they can.

The author of this article was trying to make the point that all of the child raising years are important (not just the baby years), and that we all need to quit laying judgement on people who have, through choice or necessity, made a different choice than we have. The part of the article that really got to me though, was the fact that the author had to defend herself in the comments. Instead of people saying, “YES, you are so right – ALL of those years with our children are important!” –  people made personal attacks. She replied with, “And for those readers who thought I was just justifying my own guilt or denial about “shipping my kids off” to daycare providers, you should know that weekdays I’ve been at home with my kids since my first was born almost seven years ago. Yup, for the most part I’m one of you SAHMs– except for the judgmental part!”

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Do you think that the cliche is cruel, or is it just a fact of life?

Has it been said to you? To your husband? Do you think people place more “value” on Mom being home in the beginning years instead of Dad? 

How do we work on getting past the point where we feel such a need to judge other parents for their decisions?

How do we get to the point where we can respect others for their decisions, whether they are similar to our viewpoints or polar opposites?

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