I planned to write a post on how breastfeeding looks and feels at your child’s different ages; but instead I thought I’d write about the time-honoured “village”. That is, the village that we entrust to help us raise our children in. I’ll save the other post for another time.
The other day, I received a Facebook notification that someone had posted in one of the new groups I had joined. It was a Peaceful Parenting group. I like to think I am a pretty peaceful person and have worked hard to be a peaceful mama; I am always trying to be the best version of a mom that I can be and there is always more to learn. So, I thought this group would be a great fit and I joined it.
In the post that I got notified about, a mom was asking a question about how to handle situations that we witness which involve children and in which maybe the parents aren’t being so peaceful. There were many comments and opinions, ranging from suggestions to go talk to the other parent and make a connection so as to be better able to influence their parenting choices, to giving a friendly smile of knowing and solidarity and even a suggestion to do nothing and mind your own business.
I believe that as adults it is our responsibility to teach the children of our community when we have the opportunity to.
There seems to be a common feeling among parents who practice compassion: Don’t Judge. Some parents commented that perhaps this mom was having a bad day and was acting out of character. Judging or reporting her behaviour was not the best approach. Some parents even suggested that maybe the child was about to endanger himself which warranted the force the mother had to use to restrain her child. Many mothers sympathized with this mother saying they’d been there and done that before, there is no shame. Momming is a hard job, with stressful moments. After the initial comments on the original post, the topic of conversation turned towards what would be considered helpful in that moment.
One suggestion of course was nothing. Ignore them and go on your way. Moms who struggle with anxiety or other mental health issues said that they would not want any attention drawn on themselves. They already feel bad enough and having a complete stranger approach them would only exasperate their anxiety levels and make them feel like a failure. Some moms suggested holding their baby, taking their grocery cart back for them or carrying a bag would be helpful. Some suggested a simple glance or smile with a knowing “I’ve been there, you’re doing a great job” would be helpful. I shared with the group something I like to do and also appreciate when others do for me: speak up and encourage the child to listen to their mother.
I am a firm believer in the quote that “It takes a Village” to raise a child. I believe that as adults it is our responsibility to teach the children of our community when we have the opportunity to. With so much stranger danger, and rightfully so, there isn’t always an opportunity. But on the playground, if a child refuses to leave the park when mom says so, I will gladly speak up and say “Listen to your mommy!” in a friendly way. It wasn’t until I received some ironically un-peaceful replies to my comment that I began to learn why that would bother some people. I actually intended it to be a bit of back up for the mom since in my experience children tend to behave worse for mom than any other adult.
As I mentioned above, many of us struggle with mental health issues. It’s not easy to understand because we can’t physically see what’s on someone’s mind or going on inside of their head.
Humans are complex; which makes parenting complex. It also makes the parameters of our village complex. What some find helpful, others may be wary of accepting, and still others find it judgmental. What others find helpful, some find intruding on their business and right to parent the way they want. We all have different backgrounds, customs, traditions, education, experiences and more that go into the makeup of how and what we perceive and how we parent. You can’t please everyone and no one is perfect.
It’s got me thinking, what do you want to see in your village? How can your village support you when you’re having a hard mom moment? How can you be more receptive to the help your village is offering?
If you are looking for “your village”, start by joining some great Victoria Facebook mommy neighbourhood groups