Over the weekend, someone on my Facebook page told me that because I use the Cry It Out method, I’d broken my son’s trust in me, and another said I was cruel and heartless. These were people I’ve never met, who have never met my son, who have never been privy to my relationship with my son, who have no earthly idea what actually went down, how my son reacted, what the circumstances were, etc.
I don’t get offended very often, or by very much. But being told by complete strangers that I am damaging my relationship with one of my kids and that I don’t care about his well-being because they don’t agree with the way I sleep-train? That got me.
Judge me for crying it out. Judge me for letting my kids watch too much TV, for giving them too many toys, for co-sleeping or calling them assholes on my blog or vaccinating them or using my phone when I’m with them at the playground. I don’t care. Some of that is probably valid.
But don’t question my love for my son(s!).
We judge each other’s politics, personal hygiene, fashion sense, taste in music, romantic decisions, how we take our coffee, the absurd idea that Batman is a better superhero than Superman, etc. Judging others is human nature. We simply can’t help comparing ourselves to everyone else, and usually feeling like our way is the best way, or that their way is wrong.
Parenting is no different – except for the fact that it’s worse. Once children are involved, everyone feels invested. They are, after all, our greatest natural resource.
Every mom and dad reading this parents a little differently, which makes sense, because we are all individuals, and each one of our children is a totally unique individual as well. (Forget snowflakes; people are far more different than snowflakes! Snow only has one color, and doesn’t have any thoughts on why Bernie Sanders would make a better president than Marco Rubio.)
There is no universal method for raising kids right, and as a result, it’s common to encounter someone who is raising their kids differently than you’re raising yours. And it’s common to wonder why they’re not doing it the way you are. After all, your kids are perfect, right? Why wouldn’t everyone else want to have perfect kids too? They should do what you do!
I’m no different, obviously, despite my best efforts. I’m an opinionated guy to begin with, but I try my best to stay out of other people’s parenting choices (except when it comes to vaccinating and allergies and guns.) Because, guess what? I’m human too.
Judging other people is simply part of the deal. It’s baked into our DNA. We can try to overcome it, and in our best moments, maybe we do. But even if we don’t express them out loud, we still have plenty of opinions on how other parents do things, and why they shouldn’t, despite rarely, if ever, having the full story. Which is fine, I’m not Jesus. Jesus wasn’t even Jesus. Nobody is immune.
What isn’t fine is allowing yourself to judge someone’s motivations. What isn’t fine is assuming that the parent you saw yelling at their daughter, or ignoring a tantrum, or accidentally leaving their son locked in a hot car, doesn’t love their children.
The failure isn’t in assuming your way is better, or that another parent doesn’t know what they’re doing. The failure is in the assumption that another parent doesn’t care, or is somehow doing something intentionally harmful. Unless you have hard evidence – something a lot more damning than what the Manitowoc County police came up with – you have to allow for the probability that whatever that crazy parent is doing, they’re doing it because they love their kids and they think it’s best for them.
There are countless differences in parenting, from circumstances and culture to methods and techniques. The one constant, the one unassailable truth, the one thing that always deserves the benefit of the doubt, is that we all love our kids. That everything we do, no matter how foreign to you, or how wrongheaded it may appear, we do for them.
I may not have a lot in common with you. I may not have a lot in common with how you parent. But the one thing I’m pretty sure you do share with me? Why you parent. You parent because you love your children, and I would never presume otherwise.
Neither should you.
37 thoughts on “Benefit of the Doubt”
Thank you for writing this. I will be shairing…. ♡
Grumpy old keyboard bitches. I don’t truly believe anyone questions your love for your kiddos. Anyone who takes your statire seriously has clearly never had any children of their own. Keep your brand of truth coming.
My god people are nuts. I was told that I hated my child and future grandchildren because I am getting him circumcised. I have been to 3 urologists who agree that he medically needs it done. But i dont care for him or love him enough because of it. You keep being you. You can see the love in your sons eyes. No worries Daddy you are doing just fine.
I make plenty of (usually) private judgements of other parents – but don’t question their love of their child simply because of a different approach.
Well said! Sometimes I worry about expressing certain parental practices I have/do on my blog b/c I’m reluctant to bring on the judgy people. But like you said, I KNOW I love my kids, & I hate when anyone condescendingly equates a different method or opinion with superior parenting.
Well said! I wish I would have had the words to say the same thing many times over. My kid is 13 and the judging never stops.
If people don’t choose to parent their children differently, we wouldn’t have the wonderful range of diversity in our species that we have (and don’t appreciate enough) now. I really don’t understand why someone would choose to judge parenting styles when evidence tells us that diversity is something so beneficial for all of us.
That said, it’s ridiculous to suggest you don’t live your children. You write a blog about being a father! That would suggest to me (whatever the content), that you’re very proud of being a father and that you love your children very much.
Bravo! I am not you and you are not me, nor should we strive to be each other. Our children are different, unique, and should be treated exactly that way. What works for one child might not work for another.
Word! Pffft that Batman is even in the same league as Superman. That’s just dumb.
It’s amazing how not only other peoples’ kids are different, but how different the kids with the same 2 parents can be, especially in my house. What works for one won’t work for either of the other two and so on. It’s a challenge to find what works for each kid and to do our best to make them the best adults we can. Parenting isn’t a science. I’ll admit that I’m mostly making it up as I go along.
I don’t understand how you could like Superman over Batman, the science alone makes Batman the obvious choice.
Oh, FFS people are dumb. I wonder what it’s like, not having a sense of humor.. ?
“If you hate it so much why not give your kids to someone that does not hate them?”
BECAUSE THEY WILL RETURN THE KIDS AFTER 30 MINUTES AND SAY JESUS YOU WERE RIGHT THIS IS AWFUL.
I read or watched something that talked about expressing your true feelings as a parent. It is not wrong to express what you feel. Sometimes you need to get it out and get it out to someone who understands so they can relate. Maybe between you and another person you will gain relief in knowing you are not the only one. People get so caught up in their parenting styles that they do not realize it doesn’t work for everyone. I say keep on keeping on! You’re doing your best and people need to back off!
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well said. judgy people suck. I have six daughters. I’ve gone from attachment parenting with the first to screaming go to sleep!! and standing outside till the crying stops. no one can judge me till they put my people to sleep!
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The cry it out method can be effective on me but with my sister if you leave her alone it gets worse. As you said, it’s different for everyone.
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Got the same judgment when my kid was 6 months old and screaming her head off. Had tried everything else. Didn’t want to do it. Did it anyway. We did a graduated cry it out thing. I had to leave the house because I’d have panic attacks and my husband held down the fort. It worked. Every kid, parent, and family is different and needs different things. Also, parents cherry pick bad articles based on limited or bad research to back up their opinions because everyone feels like they’re doing it wrong. Some of us just know we are never going to get it right all the time and live with it instead of bludgeoning others to cover our insecurity. /rant
I’ve given up on reading most parenting blogs because the feeling of judgement is so defeating. I’m doing my best and I have to assume that other parents are doing their best and that’s all we can ask considering how hard parenting is.
Mike, you are hillarious and you’re kids are lucky to have a parent with a sense of humor. Thanks for doing what you do.
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