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

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!

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.

Leave a comment