MadameNoire Featured Video

Portrait of smiling granddaughters standing with mother and grandmother

Source: Thomas Barwick / Getty

I recently had the opportunity to spend an extended weekend with my family. It was my first family weekend since having a baby and my newfound mommy status definitely allowed me to see my aunts and cousins through new eyes. It wasn’t until we were all gathered for a celebratory graduation dinner that I stepped back to realize that we were all mothers in some way shape or form. Some birthed children,  some stepped up to mother other relatives in the physical or emotional absence of their biological mothers, and some had accepted the call of godmother. It was a beautiful moment of realization, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t overwhelming to be around so many mamas for an extended period of time. Why? Because everyone has an opinion.

One thing I’ve learned about parenting over the past year is that it can give you a false sense of knowing it all, which is understandable. You gain a new sense of accomplishment with each stage of growth survived and every problem solved. You do know it all in a sense. You know all about what it took to care for your kid up until this very moment. But you don’t know everything about parenting or what it takes to parent every kid. You only know what worked for you and your child. Every child is different and every parent is different. Until you’ve walked in that exact parent’s shoes with that exact child, it’s easy to shout directives from the sidelines, but that type of commentary isn’t always helpful.

While spending time with my family, I realized that this is especially true when it comes to how parents choose to discipline their children. Over the span of our time together, there were so many instances where one mother made a comment about how another mother disciplined her kid. Literally, no one was exempt. One aunt had quite a bit to say about how I should deal with my infant’s fascination with dropping objects on the floor. A cousin gave another cousin an earful about how she discusses her son’s dietary restriction in front of people. An aunt felt the need to chime in about the tone in which one of my cousins addressed her kids. And while all comments were most certainly made in love and no one really seemed to take offense, it was evident that none of the advice being offered was particularly helpful because discipline is not one size fits. More often than not, advice related to it is also oversimplified. Even I had to catch myself from telling an aunt what she should do when a younger cousin was caught making a questionable choice with her cell phone. I had to stop and ask myself, “What the hell do I know about raising a teenager?” Secondly, I had to tell myself that absolutely no one asked me what I thought. And third, how do I know that she hadn’t already tried that approach?

My greatest takeaway from the weekend was that even though you may mean well, it’s best to mind your business when it concerns other people and how they discipline their children. As long as they’re not inflicting physical or emotional abuse on their kids, hold the commentary unless they ask for your advice.

Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN