There was a recent situation in our parent support group that has been on my mind over the past week. It did not deal directly with Sonzee or myself, however, it was one of those emotional, electrically charged conversations that sends people into a tizzy. While it would not be appropriate to discuss the nature of the topic itself, I feel almost obligated to touch on the topic of parenting and offering support. I have been compartmentalizing my thoughts the last couple of days, attempting to sort them out while waiting for the post to begin writing itself in my head. As usual I have been a bit caught up in how to accurately articulate my thoughts, however, tonight when I sat down in front of the computer I eventually found the words to convey a message.
No one knows everything about every situation. I personally offer a window of our life with Sonzee, but that is just what it is, a window, a snapshot. No one knows exactly what goes on here unless they have a camera set up within my house and have a live feed (complete with audio) that they are continuously watching. In my blog I share my feelings as openly as possible, but I assure you there is more that is left to your imagination. I can paint a picture with my words, but you will interpret my writings in a way that most benefits you. There is nothing wrong with that, but when you walk away and close the computer and return to your family and your life, our life with Sonzee is still being written. When I create the words that you read on your screen they are carefully chosen. I can suggest by my words what tone I wish the post to take, but there are times that a post is happy simply because I want to believe that the situation I am writing about will be. I sometimes am so burdened by the weight of a situation that I cannot possibly put a happy twist on it and those are my more "depressing" posts. No matter what, there are days when even though you have a glimpse into our life by viewing the adorable pictures I post on Facebook , you do not have the entire picture.
After I publish my posts I receive emails, comments, messages, phone calls, etc. offering words of encouragement, offering support, offering ideas of how to possibly deal with our situation. They are always appreciated, they are always read, they are always considered. You may see me put those thoughts, comments, concerns, etc. into action, you may not. You may disagree with my style of parenting, you may think you would do things differently, and you very well might if you were in our exact situation. That is perfectly fine, that would be your right to do what YOU felt was best for YOUR child if you were in the same situation.
Emotions can fly really high when it comes to children and parenting in general. It is because of that basic fact that you should never feel it is acceptable to insult, berate, or question anyone's parenting. You might think your choice is right and that you would make a better parent to the child who's parenting you are questioning. It is always EASY to say what you "would do if...", but the truth is, until it happens it is all projection. It is what you think you would do. It is highly possible that you would find yourself surprised at some of the decisions you might end up making if you found yourself in another family's exact situation. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation to a person seeking support and you would not follow the same path they have chosen, then by all means you can disagree, you can make a different choice; but that doesn't make your choice better, that doesn't make you right, and that certainly doesn't make the other parent wrong.
When you offer someone support that does not mean you agree with any or all of their parental decisions. When you offer support that does not mean you would do exactly what they are choosing to do. When you offer a person support it simply means you are acknowledging that this person is in a less than ideal situation, it means you want them to know they are not alone as they travel down an undesirable path. When you offer support you may offer suggestions that could possibly offer comfort and or compassion, however you do not know how the receiving end will interpret your words. When you offer support you might find yourself sharing a similar experience you have found yourself or loved one in and you may share that in your specific case you tried XYZ and the situation was resolved. If you are the type of person to make recommendations please acknowledge that just because you offered a solution does not mean it is viable in this person's situation. If you offer a solution it does not mean that if the person does not execute the exact plan you are proposing that this person is a bad parent.
When you offer someone support you should ask yourself what type of support is this person seeking? Are they looking for a solution or are they simply just wanting you to hold their hand as they walk a pebbled path? You should ask yourself if your words will be perceived as supportive and if you were this person would you want these words spoken to you? Will your words be a crutch to help this person stand, will your words actually help them out of the darkness, will your words be beneficial to them, will your words actually provide support?
Parenting is hard. You should never feel you will do it better with someone else's child. You are entitled to your feelings. You are entitled to your thoughts. However, you do not know the whole story, no outsider knows the entire story. If you were worthy enough to be given a glance into a personal situation then take the information and process it in a way that you feel appropriate. If you are concerned then you should privately reach out in an attempt to gain clarity, but know that you are not owed such clarity, you are not owed an explanation of any kind. Parenting is hard and until you are living in the exact situation you have no right to act like you would do better nor pass judgement.
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