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The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents

peace in the world

As parents, we make decisions for our families based on what we believe to be right. This stems from our upbringing, our experience and the unique personalities and temperaments of our kids (and us!). Parenting isn’t a one-size fits all approach and we will always encounter those who agree with us, who don’t and those who WE don’t agree with. The question is how we learn to interact respectfully and peacefully regardless of parenting philosophy or conflicting personalities.

Here are some keys that I’ve learnt – often the hard way!

5 Keys to peaceful and respectful parenting interactions

  1. Don’t buy into parenting politics – just don’t play the game!

Playgroups, mother’s groups, pre-school and school are all places where the more, um, unpleasant side of mother’s come out. Competitive mothering, criticism, gossip, judgment and general nastiness can be commonplace – just don’t play the game. This is easier if we avoid negative people and invest time and effort into building positive relationships in our social circles.

2. Resist temptation to criticize people (or their kids!) behind their back

Just don’t go there. If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all! It shows respect to go directly to the mother (or child) if there is an issue that needs to be addressed.

3. Don’t try and mask judgment with concern

Don’t pretend to be concerned just so you can be right – it’s just plain manipulative!

4. Don’t concern yourself with the strong opinions or seemingly odd choices of others

Sometimes we need to get the focus off others and remind ourselves why we are passionate about our parenting choices. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what other people think or do if we truly feel we have made the right decision for our family. I have learnt not to argue. I now try to diffuse potential arguments with statements like “Well, I feel this is right for us” or “it sounds like you’ve made a choice that suits you” etc.

5. Be sensitive to the needs and experiences of others when discussing parenting topics or your own child

It’s great to be passionate but we also need to be sensitive in what we choose to talk about or discuss with other parents.

It IS possible to be passionate about our own parenting choices without de-valuing or disrespecting the choices of others. It just requires us to be prepared and armed with strategies (or keys!) for dealing with the inevitable conflict we face with other parents from time to time.


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Comments ( 8 )

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  1. Lauren @ Hobo Mama February 14, 2012 Reply

    This is such a helpful guide! Sometimes I see parenting interactions that read more like junior high backstabbing nonsense. Thanks for these commonsense and respectful suggestions.

  2. Wolfmother February 14, 2012 Reply

    The simplest way really to avoid all the drama is to keep our opinions to ourselves, but sometimes that’s difficult isn’t it? We all have our own experiences that we want to share that may be of value to others but we sometimes forget that not everyone follows our parenting philosophy or even have one at all and that complicates things. All we can do is offer our own personal insights and allow others to do what they will with the information.

  3. Number four really struck me. I care about what other people do, in a general I care about the world and children and the future sort of way, but when it comes down it, it doesn’t really matter how other folks are parenting. What matters to MY family is MY parenting. And, I can always use some help in the “diffusing potential arguments” realm. Yikes. I tend to overreact, underreact, become snarky, or stumble. Working on this.

  4. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama February 15, 2012 Reply

    Such an important reminder about not criticizing others behind their backs – there is rarely a time that can amount to anything positive (besides maybe someone reminding us to be more uplifting ;) ).

  5. Amy February 15, 2012 Reply

    All valid points, Tara! I really appreciate the first two don’ts. It is so much easier when we actively choose what we will not do, and what we will do. Scruples or principles come to mind. As we mature those definitely come into play.

    The note about remembering that we don’t have to discuss everything with everyone is pertinent also. There are so many ways to spend time with others. Sometimes lighthearted discussion or mainly listening can be very enjoyable and much less tense.

    As for online stuff, I totally agree that an environment of support goes much farther than criticism any day! :)

  6. Kristina @Dionna @ Code Name: Mama February 29, 2012 Reply

    That is certainly the truth! I have criticized another mommas parenting skills, behind her back, and her mom walked up and probably heard what I said… While I stand behind what I said, I know now that criticizing others isn’t acceptable as a mom. How can I teach my son to be a better person if I’m not? I love all these articles, it helps finding inner peace!

  7. Abi Skye March 31, 2012 Reply

    I will be sharing this on my blog, blog’s facebook page, MY facebook page… and anywhere else I can think to share it, LOL! Lovely :)

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