When you are young, you only know life in your own family. Everything your family does you assume, as a kid, every other family does as well. Which is actually pretty true when it comes to babies.
All babies need basically the same care. Clean diapers, food on demand, lots of sleep. For longer than we as parents like, our lives revolve around the basic care and feeding of this child that uses various tones and volumes to their cries to communicate their needs. As toddlers, most parents agree they need to learn to use the toilet and feed themselves. We all try to read to our kids and take them outside to play. We try our best to keep the scary world at bay just a little longer.
But there comes a point on the playground or in the hallways at the school, that both the child and the parents realize that their family might be doing things just a little bit differently from the person next to them. It might be video game rules or word acceptability, it might be watching the news with the kids or letting them drink soda, or it could be whether your family has a Christmas tree or not in December. Somewhere in the raising of our children, we stopped focusing on the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and started thinking about what kind of adults we want our children to become. What values, traditions, life lessons we wanted to pass on to our kids while we could. And this is where many of our parenting decisions start to diverge.
It’s hard to see at times. Mostly because it is hard to believe that someone would think there was a better way to raise their kids than the way we are. We are so often blinded by trying to figure out what works for our family that we cannot begin to imagine there is even another way, or lots of different ways to raise kids. But beyond that there is the belief that our family is great, our traditions the best, and that we need to protect our home and way of life.
Remember those discussions about where to spend the holidays when you first got married. His family, her family? Both/or? You wanted to support your spouse but you also wanted to enjoy your holidays eating your families seven layer salad which is made with swiss cheese and mayonnaise and not the hideous combination his family puts together with miracle whip and cheddar. One tastes like home, like Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled into one. And the other is an abomination and a direct assault on you, your childhood, and your family. Doesn’t he understand that?
Family and all that it means is so personal, at the base of all that we are… or at least all that we were.
And when someone does things differently, it feels like a personal attack.
When maybe it is just them doing what works for them and you doing what works for you.
But I still prefer mayonnaise and swiss cheese.
And don't even get me started on jello salads.