My best friend and I share loads of personal interests, from our staunch support of Nigella Lawson to not-so-secret crushes on Benedict Cumberbatch – we even have similar tastes in food and drink. Nights out together are a blast, and I totally trust her to take care of my children when my husband and I go out, as she does me.
We can talk about anything and everything, including but not limited to our experiences of breastfeeding and giving birth, and the fact that we have similar-age kids is just a bonus. Yet when it comes to parenting methods we couldn’t be more different, and this has caused one or two problems in the past.
Where I tend to be more relaxed with food (allowing the occasional McDonald’s when the going gets tough and not stressing too much if they aren’t hungry that day) my friend is uber-strict (organic everything no matter what the cost and they better finish every mouthful, too, because People Are Starving in Africa and organic is expensive!). I’m not convinced about going all-organic; and while one of my children is a picky eater and the other is not, at least I know I’ve not put any pressure on them. They are able to enjoy their food and as they have learned to stop when they are full they hopefully won’t contribute to the obesity epidemic.
Where I tend to lack patience (I don’t expect my kids to be angels all the time, but I do expect them to try to behave and will use the naughty step technique if I have to) my friend would rather shrug her shoulders and make excuses (“they’re tired/ they’re hungry/ it’s been an exhausting day”). Even when they’ve done something really unacceptable like biting her hard enough to leave a bruise mark (and her little ones are certainly old enough to know better), she turns her back on their behaviour rather than giving it her attention. Although I can understand the reasoning to this I think there comes a point when certain actions can no longer be ignored.
I know it’s none of my business how my friend chooses to raise her kids but it is hard to keep my mouth shut at times and I am fairly sure that she is also biting her lip around me. Whether or not it’s OK for the children to get dirty during playtime; sleeping arrangements, bed times, disciplinary measures or lack of the same; whether the children get pocket money or not and even what we allow them to watch on television is different. As mums we operate from the opposite sides of the spectrum, whatever our mutual interests may be.
Because we value our friendship so highly we almost never bring this up. It just feels way too critical to start delving into our parenting differences, especially unsolicited, and especially when you know your friend is feeling unsure of herself – as all we mums do, from time to time.
When you first have children, getting to know some fellow parents is invaluable. Sooner or later you’re going to need to talk to someone who’s “been there” (although sometimes a non-parental view is refreshingly insightful) and the kids’ grandparents are not always available to offer guidance (and indeed may not remember).
That’s why I am so glad that one of my closest friends now also happens to be a mum. In a way, it’s a good thing that our parenting styles are different – because by sharing our mutual experiences we can offer each other a fresh perspective without coming across as judgemental or condemning, even when we don’t agree. At the end of the day, my best friend and I are alike where it counts – we both want the best for our children. And seeing how happy our kids are, I’m pretty sure neither of us is doing it wrong.
Source: Yahoo Lifestyle