We’re back with another round of “Mom Talk”, where we invite some incredible mothers, from all walks of life to share their personal experiences and journeys through motherhood, whether it be struggles, triumphs, or anything in-between—nothing’s off limits when it comes to topics. This week, Vania Rios talks about navigating her parents constant need to interject on her parenting skills. -JKM
From the moment I found out that we were expecting our son, Kaeden, I was persistently forewarned about the impending doom of “unsolicited parenting advice” that was about to flood our lives. The second I popped my baby boy out, I became the target of unwanted guidance from strangers, passerby, relatives, the milk man—basically, anyone with an opinion wasn’t safe to be around. But, the real kicker nobody could have prepared me for, was getting lessons on parenting by my parents.
Frankly, these are the last two people on earth that I ever would have thought would tell me my parenting wasn’t up to par. I mean, why would they? These are the two people who clothed me, fed me, and basically made me the woman I am today. So, you would think that they would have faith that my choices for my son would be the right ones, right? Boy, was I naïve. Growing up as an only child, I am no stranger when it comes to numerous questions about what I am doing and why I am doing it. Most times, I’ve learned to just shrug and brush it off, or the infamous, just pretend to listen. However, there is no ignoring this parenting advice when it starts. It’s like word vomit. As a mom, nothing gets under my skin more!
I cannot tell you how many arguments I have gotten into with my parents over their need to interject on my parenting skills. Recently, my husband and I decided that our one-year-old son was old enough to start crying it out a bit in his crib. We used to rock him to sleep, but it just wasn’t working for us anymore. My mother had come over for a quick visit with Kaeden. Somehow, she managed to arrive right around Kaeden’s naptime, which for any mama with a schedule, isn’t ideal no matter who is visiting. Kaeden was already cranky at this point, but I decided to give her a few minutes with him before putting him down in his crib for his nap. When it came time to set him down, I was met with criticism from my mom. She kept saying, “Oh, my poor baby! You’re just going to leave him in there?! Go get him.” This not being the first time that I had heard this, I instantly became annoyed. I replied back with a sigh and said, “Yes, mom. He is fine. I do it all the time. He will fall asleep in a few minutes.” My response didn’t sit well with her, and she eventually left upset at my parenting choice. C’est la vie.
Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t love and appreciate my parents and the wisdom that they carry with them from raising me. Those days where parenting just seems impossible and I just need a little advice to get me through, having them there to offer words of wisdom is always comforting. But, what I tell my parents is that there has to be a give and take with their constant know-how. Like every first time parent, we weren’t given a manual on how to raise a child. I mean, honestly, we celebrate the fact that this tiny human is still alive and kicking at the end of everyday. Everything we do, every experience we have with our son, it is a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants situation. We are constantly figuring out what works and what doesn’t work for us and, yes, we struggle. Oh, we struggle hard at times. But, that doesn’t mean that we are failing at parenting. It just means that we are learning—that it’s our turn to learn. And, as the grandparents, they have to give us, mom and dad, a chance.
So here we are, a year and some months after the birth of my son, and I still struggle with being parented on parenting by my parents. Although the unsolicited advice can be irritating, I’ve come to realize it’s all a balancing act. Yes, it may get strenuous at times, but at the end of the day, I just have to keep reminding myself that it all comes from a place of love.
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