Hi there, I submit articles to a Toronto Kids Website and I thought I would share my latest one with you since I thought a lot of you could relate. I was inspired to write this from raising a difficult child. You are the experts, and I am sure that after all that you have been through, you can not be judgmental anymore My hope is that I can make a few parents of easy child's think twice before judging. I welcome any suggestions for improvement! ........................................... I am mother: hear me judge There is something about becoming a mother that can make even the most easy going woman become judgmental of other parents. It seems to happen sometime after giving birth while we are immersed in the masses of information on babies and parenting that this strange transformation takes place. We search for the right way of doing things because we want the very best for our new baby - breast or bottle, soother or no soother, family bed or crib, attachment parenting vs. letting them cry on their own. These decisions start to take on extreme importance in our lives! We are sure we now know what is best and question why other parents would do things differently. Now my confession . It was 9 years ago that I sat at a parenting seminar nursing my 3 month old first born son, listening to Barbara Coloroso speak about parenting strategies from her book Kids Are Worth It. I was intrigued by her stories of what she refers to as Jellyfish Parents and Brick Wall Parents. I was confident that since I was learning about all of this while my son was so young, that when the time came for discipline, I would be an excellent Backbone Parent! After this seminar, I started to look at parents of older children and think: Aha, there is a jellyfish letting their child get away with too much, or Oh, look at that strict one - they are being a brick wall parent! Of course, I had no insight into these peoples lives or their childrens personalities. I am ashamed to admit how judgmental I was! I was a very strong believer in breastfeeding. and ended up nursing both of my sons until about age 2. I shudder to even think of the negative opinions I had of moms who didnt breastfeed, chose to use soothers, or who applied the Ferber method of getting their children to sleep. Somehow, it comforts me to know that I was not alone in judging others. I heard this holier than thou attitude in mothers groups then and I still hear this type of judgmental talk today. If I only knew then what I know now .. So far, raising my first son, although not always easy, has been relatively event free. I would say, Ive maintained my back bone parent status reasonably well. He has always been a happy kid. He was never in trouble at daycare, had a lot of friends, and other parents told me how polite he was, I felt like a good parent: what an accomplishment! I knew of kids at his daycare, who were still hitting or biting others and acting out. I actually wondered what their parents might be doing wrong. Then, came along my second son almost 6 years ago. He has been much different... Now, my husband and I have become the parents that people look at and question our parenting ability. Our son has been diagnosed with Tourettes and Pediatric Bipolar Disorder. He has been the one at the daycare and school who has hit other kids, screams, and gets into a lot of trouble! When we meet other parents and tell them who our son is, or when they witness his inappropriate behaviour, we see that look in their eyes that we recognize. That same look of judgment I used to have for other parents who I didnt think were doing the right things. What I have learned is that for neurological disorders such as these, even the most skilled backbone parent would not stand a chance. Neither did counting to three, rewards, charts, clear consequences, threats or just being really firm. Patience, kindness and collaborative problem solving is helping. However, that does nothing to reduce the looks from the other moms in the playground! When I find myself speaking to mothers expecting their first baby, I try to not give any parenting advice. There is so much I could tell them but new parents will learn all of the usual things on their own. There are plenty of books out there too many, really. What I do suggest to them is to not become judgmental of other parents. The response I usually get is something like this I am a tolerant person, I dont expect to be become judgmental. No one really expects it to happen, but sadly it often does. I think it is in our nature. Parenting is hard, really hard. You cant really understand how hard it is until you experience it yourself. What I have learned is that every child is different and what works for my family might not work for others, and you dont always know the full picture. Now when I see a parent doing something different from what I would do, I quickly stop any judgmental thoughts that sneak into my head and remind myself that they are doing what works for them. I wish someone would have given me this parenting advice early on, although I am not sure I would have listened. Not everyone faces the same challenges, however, if you are finding that the parenting strategies your family is using are not working well and you need support, there are many professionals who can offer advice. Remember though, if the advice does not fit your childs personality or your own values, you can and should ask for different suggestions. Trust your own instincts! The experience of dealing with a child with special needs has changed me - not only as a parent, but as a person. I am very grateful to my son for providing me the opportunity to learn some very important life lessons.