Parenting can be a judgy thing. Even if you’re not the judging type yourself, you’ll find yourself being judged or feel pressure from other adults, social media, and articles about parenting. New or soon-to-be parents may well be inundated with it.
Learning to deal with the pressure early and independently make the best parenting decisions for you and your family without succumbing to or feeling pressure from your peers is a great step. If you can be ahead of the game and think about this before your baby arrives, you’ll be in a strong and secure position for when the inevitable happens.
Parents are constantly barraged with advice on what good parenting looks like, from unsolicited advice during pregnancy to how to raise children. We're often inundated with value judgments. For example, take a casual approach to homework, and you're a slacking parent, take too much interest and you're “helicopter-parenting."
Dealing with Parenting Peer Pressure
Tips to help you sort through the noise and hype…
- Turn the volume down. Surround yourself with friends that build your confidence as a parent. Seek out books and articles that align with your personal values and feel supportive and uplifting.
- Think about what is most important to you as a parent. What do you value? What do you want your children to learn? How do you want your home to feel?
- Create a family mission statement - Try to distil your thoughts into two or three sentences that encapsulate your family essence and goals, such as, "Our family values close family relationships, continually growing and learning, and serving others." Use this as a yardstick for choosing activities. Are you spending your time in ways that will further your family goals? Knowing what you hope to achieve from the outset will help keep you focused so you’re not derailed by new trends or random activities.
- Parenting influences - Our parenting values, skills, and aptitudes are influenced by many factors, including our own childhood experiences, our personalities, our children's needs, and our available resources. It’s important to acknowledge that there is no one right way to parent but it is valuable to have a discussion with your partner or consider what you want your core parenting values to be.
- Be realistic about your time and budget. This is a tough one because as parents, we often want to give our children everything. Remember, though, that your role as a parent is to nurture and guide your child to become a happy, responsible adult, not to indulge their every whim. If the trend in your neighbourhood is fancy buggies or elaborate, catered birthday parties, you can choose to follow the trend – or not – but base your decisions on what is sensible, logical and affordable for your family.
- Trust your parental instincts. Parents have widely differing views on everything from sleeping patterns to mealtimes and beyond.What might be right for one family might not be right for another, and as a parent, you get to choose. You are the expert on your own child and your own family’s needs. It's okay to say ‘no’ to something that seems unsafe or unwise to you, even if that choice makes you feel you are not conforming to the current peer pressure activity.
- Responding politely to pressure – It’s useful to have a couple of stock phrases to hand for when you need to respond to offered parenting pressures. Short and polite is the name of the game, so consider phrases like: "Thanks for your point of view, but this works for our family." Or “Thanks for that idea, we’ll have a think about it.”
- And finally - Try to avoid judging other parents yourself.