As a still relatively new parent I know that I have a lot to understand about parenting and I know that some of the choices that I have made (and continue to make) have caused others to disagree with me. What is more is that I am not making these decisions because I am a new parent and don't know any better, I am making them because I feel that they are best for my child. This makes things worse. However I never argue with those who disagree. I don't want to fight with others about my parenting choices, so with this in mind - what do we do when others disagree with our parenting choices? What do we say?
The answer is simple and twofold. The first thing that we need to do is not argue back, regardless of how tempting it might be. Conflict will not get us anywhere and it is highly unlikely that we can sway the other person to our opinion. So it is probably best if we just don't bother. The best we can is stay calm and nod. Mustn't agree to make changes we aren't happy with and not promise anything, then change the subject as quickly as we can. There are going to be some people who are going to want an argument and there is nothing that we can do about that except not engage with it. It would be ideal to be able to avoid the subject altogether and it is generally best (unless you are absolutely sure that everyone is of the same opinion) to not broach the subject of parenting styles at all, or to swiftly move the subject on if it comes up. This seems a little extreme, but our top priority should be keeping the peace - no one wants an argument, there are enough in the world already. We simple need to continue doing the right thing.
This brings us to the second point - carry on regardless. If we are doing something that is genuinely hurting our child then fair enough, other people have a right to be concerned. But when there is simply a difference of opinion involved, such as whether or not to practice gentle parenting or whether to send a child to school, then if we genuinely think that what we have chosen is best for our child, then we need to stand firm. If our choice comes from a place of love and caring for our child, then we need to reinforce this by continuing to do what we think is best for them.
A particular example of something that I do is that has caused others to be shocked is that I still give my 14 month old a bottle before he goes to bed. I have been told countless times that I should not be doing this and that I am making a rod for my own back. But this isn't the way I see it. He just won't settle without the milk (although he is getting better) and I am not willing to try the 'crying it out' method. I feel that I am giving my baby what he needs and besides, how can anyone possible resist the 'milk face' pictured at the very top of this post? It is lovely bonding time with my baby at the end of the day. There are plenty of people out there still breastfeeding at this stage and beyond, this is no different to me. If I could have breastfed I am not sure when I would have stopped, but I believe in doing what feels right. I feel that this is what is best for my child, so I will continue until he no longer wants a drink before bed.
I practice gentle parenting mostly (we have immunised) and I know that some people would not like this, so I don't tend to bring the subject up. It allows for a more peaceful existence. It is important for us to also remember that those sharing their opinions may be genuinely concerned for our child, especially if our parenting choices are not considered 'traditional'. So I think it is important to try and not get mad at people who disagree with us (however aggressively). Their opinion may also come from a place of love. However, we are the parent and no one knows our child like we do. So if we feel, with all of our hearts that something is the right decision (and it is genuinely not harming our child) then we need to follow our hearts.
Do you have any advice or have you had any experiences with others not agreeing with your parenting choices? I would love to pick up some extra pointers. Please share your advice and stories in the comments.