Why are you judging my big family?
People are so judge-y about parenting these days. From the approach parents use to feed their kids to how parents school and discipline, everyone seems to have an opinion, an approach, and a way to do it better. I’m not sure how all this one-upmanship and freedom to judge one another got started, but being the victim of it is no fun.
One of the ways parents are judged and shamed is in the number of kids they decide to include in their family. I have experienced plenty of parent-shaming over the years, and most of my experiences are around the size of our family. With four kids in tow, many have wondered about me (and my husband) over the years. I’ve heard things like:
What were you thinking? (As if we weren’t.)
Did you figure out what caused this? (Well, yeah, we think so.)
Do you know how expensive kids are? (Oh yes, from the first diaper to the last college year.)
How can you possibly give each one the attention they deserve? (I don’t believe all the attention should come from us—they give each other plenty of attention, too.)
My goodness, have you thought about college? (Too many times to count)
And the one that ticked me off the most…
I wonder how they’ll turn out? (Really? You assume they’re doomed because they’re from a large family?)
I grew up in a big family, similar to my own family. I was the oldest of four, and yeah, it wasn’t always a bed of roses. Sometimes I wished I had more “alone time” with my parents. It wasn’t always easy to share with my siblings, to wait for my turn, and even forego it sometimes. Yes, I had a parent (or two) who was occasionally stressed out by the sheer weight of responsibility associated with parenting and raising four kids. And, I didn’t like hearing the word “no,” but I heard my fair share.
I am grateful for being raised in a big family, as it taught me how to live in the real world. To share, accept failure, deal with rejection and not getting my way, handle other people’s emotions, and juggle a busy schedule and household.
When my husband and I decided we wanted a big family, we knew we could handle it. We wanted it. In fact, we delight in it. We wanted a tribe, and fortunately, we got one. I have not one regret. And ashamed is not what I am.
The beauty of being a parent is that you get to do the parenting thing your way. I emphasize this to my own kids, who are teens now. I often say, “I’m sorry you don’t like the way this is being handled, but someday (when you’re a parent) you can choose to handle this situation differently.”
And that’s really how I feel about parent-shaming, for whatever reason. Here’s my perspective: My life, my choices.
So, here’s what I have to say to all those parent-shamers out there:
“I’m sorry if you don’t like the fact that I have a big family, but the good news is that you can make your own choices for your own family.”