We’ve all been there, the invasive questions people think they deserve to ask when you have children. Is he circumcised? Did you have a natural childbirth? Will you vaccinate? Do you give antibiotics? Most people mean no harm but inevitably, some people get offended or upset when your philosophy differs from theirs. Being a parent means that you are responsible for your child’s well-being and therefore you get to choose how to raise them. You've done the homework and the research and picked a philosophy that is right for your family. So how do you defend these choices to others who might not understand?
Evaluate what you share with people
There is no rule that says to have to share personal information with others. Mrs. Little Old Lady at the grocery store doesn't need to know if you circumcised your son but you may want to share more about your birth with close friends. If you are steadfastly anti-vaccine, you may feel comfortable going toe to toe with someone who may disagree with you. It’s all about finding a happy medium that you are comfortable with.
Try to understand where the other person is coming from
Do you find that you butt heads with a generation or two ahead of you over and over? Does your mom, aunt, or grandma, not understand why you would choose a selective vaccine schedule or let a fever run its course without the use of drugs? They might mean well, but if they had children 30, 40, 50 years ago, their experience and the advice and research regarding raising children might vastly differ from what we now know. Try to be understanding of their situation, while at the same time asserting how far parenting knowledge has come.
Have a tag line
Coming up with a “family tag” line can be a great tool in fending off unwanted parenting advice.
- “This is what works for our family.”
- “I think everyone should do what works best for their family.”
- “We decided to go a different way.”
- “I’m glad that works for you, but this is what we chose to do for our children.”
Letting people know that you respect their decisions will hopefully garner support for your lifestyle.
Have your research ready
Everyone knows that you can find evidence to back up almost every theory if you look hard enough on the internet. You don’t need to carry a manual around with you, but having a few key pieces of information from reputable sources at your disposal to defend your philosophy is a great tool is getting others to understand your position. Just remember that everyone’s situation is different and just because others do something different from you doesn't mean they are doing it wrong.
If you want people to be understanding of your lifestyle, it is only fair to be respectful of theirs. At the same time, stand up for what you believe in. Most people will accept your position and move on. For those who are more argumentative, make sure they know you won’t back down.
We live in such a digital age where people overshare all the time. Invasive questions have become the norm. Questions like those above have just become polite conversation and many ask without meaning any harm. Decide what kind of information you are comfortable sharing and go from there. Remember, you are the parent and while others may have opinions, only yours matters!
Photo credits: Woman with baby on bike (modified) by Pieter Schepens / CC BY 2.0; organic tomatoes by Dave Parker / CC BY 2.0; woman gesturing by Fil.Al / CC BY 2.0; woman at computer (modified) by David Goehring / CC BY 2.0