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Truce

white flag

I guess there have always been mommy wars. Stay at home vs. working. Breast feeding vs. Bottle. Parents who let their kids wear sweats with words on the butt vs. those who don’t. Today I was reminded yet again of the disservice we do to other moms when we criticize and divide instead of build each other up and support.

Several years ago we had to make a decision on whether or not to send our oldest to Kindergarten or whether to wait a year. She is a late September birthday and although the trend is definitely to hold back, we really felt she was ready. We sought input from her preschool teachers. We did Kindergarten testing at her school and weighed what those teachers said. We talked to parents we respected. Most importantly, we prayed over what we should do.

Honestly it was an incredibly difficult decision. Although all her teacher evaluations assured us she was ready and capable, we worried if we were making the right decision. Actually we still worry from time to time. But she was so very ready and so we pulled the trigger.

The thing was no one else I knew outside of one other mom was sending their same aged kid through. While this didn’t affect my decision in the least, apparently everyone had some thoughts on the matter. I made it clear over and over that this decision was about MY kid and OUR situation. But many made it clear that it was a bad decision and not one that they would do for their child. The messages were sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle. But the message was clear.

I got really tired of defending myself and my daughter. I felt completely at peace but people still felt the need to criticize my parenting choice. Because of it still to this day when people at her school comment on how tiny Lily is (not in a mean way, more in a “oh my goodness she is so cute and tiny” way) I feel the need to quickly defend why we sent her to school so young.

So today I came across this article in the NY Times about the benefits of sending your kids to school when they are young and I felt slightly vindicated. So I linked to it on my personal Facebook page saying so. I also made sure to point out that I wasn’t judging anyone who made the opposite choice but simply feeling like I had endured a lot of crap about my decision.

The response was so interesting. Twenty one comments from other moms who had made the same choice as me but felt like they had been questioned. They too struggled with doubts but felt led to make the same choice. It was like therapy on my Facebook wall.

But in all that therapy my friend Melissa summed it up the best.

I hope there will come a day when we don’t feel like we need to defend every decision we make as parents. Everyone is so quick to tell us when we’re messing up or making the wrong decision. How often does someone just tell us we’re a good mom? PS……I think you’re doing an awesome job and are a pretty super mom. :)

*Disclaimer: I did not add that last part in. She really thinks that.

Can we just agree to speak up when people are doing clearly stupid things like give their underage kids alcohol, but keep our mouths shut about most of the other stuff. Can we just support each other’s decisions and remember how freaking hard this job of parenting is?

What do you think? Can we call a truce?

Comments

  1. Jen Heptinstall says:

    AMEN!!!

  2. It is interesting that this happens. And unfortunate. :( I have three kids now and they are ALL different, and I’m convinced I’m not an expert even on them…although I try, lol. But I certainly don’t have any idea about other peoples’ children.

    I’ll be in this situation after awhile. Both my sons are summer birthdays — July and August. A lot of people hold their kids back even then. I don’t honestly know what I will do. It will completely depend on them. My oldest is NOT a summer birthday but I’m pretty sure if she were I’d wait. My second is, and I (so far, he’s 2) would feel totally confident sending him ahead. They are ALL different.

    I hope a truce is possible but until everyone realizes that each parent-child pair is totally unique and each parent truly, honestly wants what is best for their children, it won’t happen. :(

  3. I think the reason it happens is that the parenting decisions ARE so hard and SO personal that when someone makes an opposite choice it seems as if that is passing judgement on our decision. (Did that make sense?) Like, i’d hold Asa back in the Kindy situation. So, because you didn’t, it might make me feel like I made the wrong choice.

    Which is RIDICULOUS!

    I don’t need any more questioning of my parenting skills. I need encouragement! :)

    I vote for TRUCE.
    a
    oh amanda {impress your kids} recently posted…How To Make a Mini Marshmallow Shooter Gun From PVC PipeMy Profile

    • Totally makes sense and I agree. We need to stop being so defensive. AND stop caring so much what irrelevant moms think. Cause our real friends are the ones supporting us.

  4. Beautifully said, Jill! I never, in a million years, would have guessed that the people who would tear me down the most on this journey would be fellow mommies… but that’s how it is. A truce would be simply lovely! How wonderful if we could channel all that energy to fighting the REAL issues that are out there. (And, just for kicks, you should know that no one would BLINK at you choosing to send Lily with a late September birthday here in CT… you’d more likely be judged for NOT sending her. I’ve had people my question my decision to NOT send my Christmas Eve preemie ahead. Cut-offs vary and this whole issue is regional. So bizarre…)

  5. Jill,
    Great post, I totally agree with you…. but I think the problem lies with this-

    “Can we just agree to speak up when people are doing clearly stupid things like give their underage kids alcohol, but keep our mouths shut about most of the other stuff.”

    The problem is that people do not agree on “stupid stuff.” While the “when to send your child to kindergarten” is obviously something that must be decided by the parents (perhaps with the input of teachers) there are many things some people might view as stupid that other people think is clearly okay.

    I’ve met several parents that think giving underaged kids alcohol is absolutely okay, and in fact a good thing because it lets them drink at home, supervised, and responsibly. Now while you and I realize that is idiotic these people will argue until the cows come home because they truly feel it is okay.

    I’ve found that it is better to stay out of things altogether, because unless it is directly impacting my child my opinion doesn’t mean squat.

    I think it is sad that it has come to this, but there are people in the world who have made “stupid” okay and I don’t think there’s any way to change their minds.

    Toni
    The Happy Housewife recently posted…How Long Does Frozen Pumpkin Last?My Profile

  6. Melissa says:

    Amen amen and AMEN! And I’m coming from the opposite side of the fence after waiting a year with my newly turned 5 year old. It is so personal and such a case by case decision. Kindness and a non-critical spirit would get us all so much further than throwing our (mostly critical) opinion in peoples faces every waking moment.

    And I really do think you’re a swell momma. ;)

  7. Hmmmm…Toni has a good point up there about people disagreeing what “the stupid stuff” is. I don’t know what to do about that, though. I agree with you 100% – let’s err on the side of support and encouragement, huh? We’ve had this same debate about A going to kindergarten early/late – and WOW YES, people do have their opinions. Including my own mother. :)
    Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect recently posted…Hard-Hitting. Investigative.My Profile

  8. My mom has literally gone the spectrum when it comes to mothering – having a child very young and then having a child when she was older (41). Homeschooling and not homeschooling. Staying home full time and working full time. I have asked her what’s hardest and she always responds “it’s like comparing apples to oranges, they’re all hard.” I bring that up because mothering is hard. Parenting a human is challenging and what works for one child just won’t for another (even within a family let alone another family).

    My husband and I have made some “radical” choices about our parenting that at times I feel I have to defend. But, my logical, even headed husband says that so long as we have made the choice, can clearly see that it’s not going against the Bible then there is no need to defend ourselves. If people disagree, they disagree.

    All that to say – truce. Every person, every child, every family is different. And we can’t judge others when we don’t even have all our own ducks in a row.

  9. We actually decided to wait to send our daughter (late September birthday) to school. And we’ve had all the same criticism. Just opposite. So many people were upset with us because our daughter is “ready” intellectually. But we didn’t feel she was emotionally ready. I have had all the same type criticism…just opposite.

    What does this teach me? No matter what we do, there will be scrutiny. And I just need to stop caring so much what other moms think.

  10. i second that emotion! i experienced the opposite when i chose to wait to put d in kindergarten because while he was academically ready, i just didn’t think he was socially ready. i fully believe i was right because he is thriving now. it was a hard decision and it would have been great to have been supported by other moms.

  11. Megan L says:

    Agree on the truce :).

    I am curious, however, about the specifics of the study discussed in the NY Times article. I wonder how “early/normal age” children in school compare to “red-shirted” children who are at home with a stay-at-home parent versus red-shirted children who are in a preschool for an extra year. I suspect that if they are at home and challenged by a parent rather than in a peer group of younger children, there would be a difference.

    Regardless, I’ve come to the conclusion after much reading (and witnessing) of “mommy wars” that it is unhelpful to generalize results of such studies to try to come up with a good parenting “rule”. Family situations are so individual and unique that trying to do so just piles on guilt and doubt rather than providing a useful guideline to make our parenting lives easier.

  12. We “red-shirted” my son who has a summer birthday. We just had him do an extra year of pre-school and I’m glad that we did. I think that it was what was best for him. My daughter (who’s 2 years younger than my son) went in when she was supposed to. They’re both thriving. You have to look at your kids and decide, individually, what’s best for them. I know that we made the best decision for my son and I know that we did the best for our daughter too. My youngest just turned five 2 weeks ago and, thankfully, she was too young to start Kindergarten this year since the cut off is Sept 1 here. I would have had a hard time sending her to Kindergarten because she just didn’t seem quite ready, but I’m confident that she will be next year.

    I can’t believe that with all the junk going on in the world someone would pass judgement on you for doing what’s best for your daughter and family.
    Candace recently posted…Things I Love Thursday- John Frieda Volume RefresherMy Profile

    • And you made my point exactly. Do what is right for your family. And don’t pass judgement on others. It is so sad we have to defend ourselves at all. Sigh.

  13. Jill, this hit home in a major way for me! Even as I write this I am fighting the need to write my defense, because I just automatically do now. Its funny to me that you faced criticism for sending Lilly when you did, because I, too, had that reaction when deciding to put our son who turned 5 in August into Pre-K. Also had all that criticism when we decided to bottle feed our boys. Whoa. I know. I bring out the controversy. But, like everyone else has so eloquently put it, “who cares?” We prayed for wisdom, and are doing what we are confident is best for our kids and our family. I try to convince myself that I don’t care, but of course, I do. I’m working on not letting it get to me. A truce would be really nice. =)

  14. I really wish I could find this post I read a long time ago and loved. Why on earth do we feel the need to defend our parenting choices to one and all OR attack others for theirs? I think it all boils down to insecurity. We’re all just doing this for the first time, people! Give yourself – and others – a lot of grace and worry about yourself and your own kids.
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