If parenting is an art, parent blame is the act of taking up random data points and chance happenings and calling them scientific fact. I often read articles explaining why American parenting sucks and tiger moms are great, french moms are great, conservative parents are great, attachment parents are great, naked dancing parents are great, and everyone else is setting their children up for failure.
Oftentimes these articles find one or two data points and then run with the idea that an entire parenting style is amazing or sucky.
I've always been cautious and skeptical of the advice I get from other parents. 9 times out of 9 times the advice I've gotten has been from a parent that is feeding me what worked for their child or children or if they aren't parents some parenting technique they read about or grew up with. 9 out of 9 times, I smile or ignore or gossip to my husband later. Sometimes, if my child is similar the advice works. Oftentimes, it's not applicable. There is nothing wrong with finding something wonderful that works for your family and being proud of it. There is something fundamentally wrong with expecting it to work for everyone else.
I have news for you, parent blamers who secretly or openly shake your head at parents like me, you're not any more amazing at parenting than I am. I know this is going to be hard to swallow, but just because your kid sits quietly eating Tilapia and broccoli at a restaurant while my husband and I switch off trying to bribe our toddler to eat pizza and cookies as he runs away from us doesn't mean you have the magical answer to parenting. It also doesn't mean that he didn't sit quietly at restaurants all around the country and in London when he was younger. It doesn't mean he wasn't exposed to restaurants. It doesn't mean we give him keys to our Prius and ask him to guide us through life. Although I wouldn't mind having a chauffer.
We too used to consider ourselves magic parents. Our toddler has been on something like 30 round trip flights and never once have we been those people with the screaming child. I'd love to tell you that it's because I rock as a parent. But a lot of it has to do with the fact that he's been on tons of airplanes, the pressure doesn't seem to bother him and he finds strangers completely entertaining. He's a social being so seeing 80 people that have to sit there and stare back at him has always kept him quite entertained.
He's always super happy and loving, and at times, I would love to say this is all our parenting. As a stay-at-home-mom who doesn't get raises, yearly reviews or surprise bonuses, I'd love to say that my child's heart is full of love for the world because I am that amazing. The truth is, I really am. I have talked to him since the day he was born and I have told him and showed him how loved he is every day. Even on days where when he was 20 months old he held me hostage in the car because he was smart enough to get out of the 5 point harness on the car seat no matter how tight it was. Ever been driving 50 miles an hour and had a toddler climb into the front seat? Scary doesn't even begin to describe it. After I composed myself from the frazzle of that experience he still went to bed the way he has almost every day of his life. Being told he was loved and being shown that my husband and I will love him no matter what. We are not completely responsible for the love and light that illuminates from him although we try our hardest to make sure we keep him on a path that supports his wonderful spirit.
There are times, where my husband and I have patted ourselves on our backs as our child represents all that is right and good in the world, and then at 3 am when he is running circles around our living room we have said to each other, "Doesn't he know we're magic parents and this isn't supposed to happen?"
We're just like anyone else. Except we have a very bright, very spirited child. Our goal as parents is to set boundaries without breaking his spirit. Have you ever met an adult with a broken spirit? Nothing in life is sadder than someone that once had light and love beaming from their body only to be bitter and broken down later in life.
I have two data points so I feel really confident asserting to you parent blamers of the world that you're full of self indulgent dog poop. My first baby had to be held all night because he had reflux and it was horrible if he wasn't held upright all night and the only way for me to sleep too is if I sat up holding him. Crib slanting be damned, nothing else worked. At two and a half he still has really bad reflux that sometimes means he doesn't eat as much as he should and it wakes him up at night or sometimes when he does eat a lot it wakes him up too.
Our two month old has a mild form of reflux and can be put down as long as I wait about 15 minutes after a feeding in the night. Sometimes she wants to be put down to kick and play or fall asleep on her own. She's her own person with the same loving mother as my son. I still respond to every cry she makes, but sometimes she wants to soothe herself. Neither child means I rock or suck. They are each proof that I am trying with everything I have to raise to loving, open-minded, and internally beautiful children.
So suck it with the parent blame. I'm sick of reading about how parenting this way or that yields results A or B. As I've said before on this blog about parenting Noah, "I know ultimately if he turns out to be an amazing person, his genes, schools, and chance will be credited. If he turns out to be a delinquent, my inadequacies as a mother will likely be the first point of blame." So when one of my children is President and the other is an Astronaut you better be ready to give me mad props for my stellar parenting skills that managed to show them love and boundaries without breaking their spirits. You better be ready to give me a shout out for waking up and cuddling them no matter what was going on in the middle or the night. You better be ready to sing my praises for making them any meal they request despite what we were already having for dinner. Or you better be willing to shake your head secretly in the privacy of your own home when they both end up in prison.