I’m pretty sure most of us would agree: You don’t have to look very hard to find examples of bad parenting.
But what I find frustrating sometimes is that often really, really bad parenting is overlooked or somehow excused provided there’s some social or economic injustice to blame it on, even while good, decent parents are nit-picked to death over every single choice they make for their kids, from the way they schedule their every free moment to the ingredients present in every snack they serve.Why does that happen? Because everybody knows the bad parents aren’t listening to anyone else anyway. It’s the good parents, those who actually want to make good decisions for their children, who read the parenting books, take every study about child-rearing to heart, and heed every possible criticism in the hopes they won’t “mess up” their children. Their good, albeit imperfect intentions make them easy prey for every “expert”out there who wants to dictate the way children are taught, disciplined, and fed.
Now I whole-heartedly seek and accept the advice of others. I read parenting books and articles and blogs and, above all, I search the scriptures for guidance in the training of my children.But I also refuse to drive myself insane trying to match up to every mortal’s opinion of what a good parent should be.
Some things would indeed make me a bad mom: Abuse. Neglect. Indulgence.
But other things DO NOT. And I’m learning to quit feeling bad over those things.
- Occasionally feeding my kids fast food does NOT make me a bad mom.
I know it’s not good for you. I know a diet of french fries and cheeseburgers will pack on the pounds quicker than you can say two all-beef patties. I know fast food is generally laden with fat, calories, and preservatives, but sometimes life gets busy and a quick run through a drive-through can save a ton of time and stress. I cook at home three meals a day the overwhelming majority of the time, so I refuse to feel guilty over the occasional fast food meal.
- Letting my kids play video games does NOT make me a bad mom.
Okay, I will concede that allowing my children to play violent or sexually explicit video games would, indeed, make me a bad mom. Letting them play video games all day every day would probably make me a pretty neglectful mom, too. But video games in general are not evil. Period.
No, I don’t want my children in front of a screen at all times. Yes, I want them to experience nature and personal relationships and using their imagination.
But occasionally playing a video game does not have to interfere with that. In fact, I’ve been a little surprised at the kind of bond a good video game can build between my children when they’re playing it together! And I laugh that they often don’t even play some games the way they’re supposed to, but instead use the characters like digital action figures as they make up their own stories and adventures.
When my children play video games they are spending time together and using their imagination in some amazing ways. Sorry, but it’s hard to find a lot of fault with that.
- Not always eating at the table does NOT make me a bad mom.
I know you’ve read the statistics, too: Kids who regularly eat dinner with parents around the table are far more likely to avoid risky behaviors or commit crime.
I take that seriously. Just ask my husband. He actually pokes fun at me for acting like our children are going to wind up as ax murderers because I didn’t get the table cleared off in time for supper while in his home growing up, the family rarely sat together for meals. Their house just didn’t allow the space for it for one, and yet he and his siblings all managed to turn out to be well-adjusted, law-abiding citizens and devoted followers of Christ. Go figure!
I have to keep in mind we also homeschool, so we are at the table together a lot already and often my tabletop is covered in books and binders and papers and crayons that just don’t always get put away in time for supper. Sometimes the table is also the only safe place to store projects or supplies. Add to all of that that my kitchen table sits just inches outside my laundry “room” and often becomes a temporary resting place for piles of clean laundry.
I try to keep it clear for dinner, but it doesn’t always happen. Regardless of where we eat, we are almost always eating dinner together, so I won’t beat myself up too much if we don’t always make it to the table.
- Serving non-organic and processed foods does NOT make me a bad mom.
I’m all about clean eating. I love the concept of taking foods down to their most natural state, eating things fresh, and cooking from scratch.
But can we please be realistic here? I can’t cook like that all the time.
Sometimes I have to be able to pull out a quick food lest I spend every non-homeschooling moment of my life in my kitchen. Homemade bread almost never happens and every once in a while I have to break out a box of mac and cheese or hand my kid a conventional granola bar. (Although I can’t do Pop-Tarts. Have you looked at the ingredient list for those things? Yikes! Presidents have given inauguration addresses that were shorter than that! But I digress…)
I buy organic foods as often as I can, but I don’t always have access to them or have money enough to buy them when I do. But that’s okay. I’m very much convinced no one in the family is going to suffer irreparably for it.
And, hey, I’m cooking, aren’t I? And if I’m cooking, then I’m not committing the cardinal sin of buying fast food, so it’s all good.
- Not keeping a perfect home does NOT make me a bad mom.
- Not allowing my children to participate in every activity that interests them does NOT make me a bad mom.