The coffee break that my friends and I take at 9 am is a wonderful oasis of peace in which we talk about the most different issues. We laugh, we do group therapy and we catch our breath after rushing to bring our kids to school and before plunging into a long day’s work.
The other day, one of my dear friends poured her heart out about an argument she had with her ex about the role each of them have in the daily logistics of their children. In short, they argued over who had to pick up their children from school and when.
What really upset my friend, however, was her mother’s intervention, who, instead of supporting her decisions, as well as creating discord between the two, criticised her daughter’s educational method.
She shouldn’t do that! (Most of you will think.) But, in fact, she does. Most of us do that! I myself realise that I often silently criticise that mother for giving her daughter a packet of crisps as a snack, that other parent for scolding her children too hard or for not scolding them at all despite their bad behaviour.
The theories and rules in the upbringing of children is like a fashion in constant evolution. They change, like the fabrics and colours in spring-summer or autumn-winter collections. My mother always says that, back in her day, breast-feeding your child was considered a very old-fashioned habit. However, nowadays, it is a synonym of modernity, it’s a new age theme. Years ago, children were left alone to cry themselves to sleep in their cot. Nowadays, we have cots that allow kids to sleep with their parents. In short, the different methods in the upbringing of children is a sensitive issue in which everyone has their own ideas and any comment about it can be considered as a criticism of everything that a parent is, feels or thinks. Our children are a mini-me in which we see all our qualities, our flaws and our habits. If someone expresses their opinion about the way we raise our children, we tend to consider it as a personal attack.
I remember that a dear friend (who had no children) once asked me: “Is it difficult to be a parent?” As I was thinking about the answer, he himself answered his own question: “It must be the hardest thing ever, you’re always wrong.” You are quite right, my friend, no matter how many books about education you read, how many theories you apply, how much organisation – or chaos – you put into it: the result of a parent’s work will never be perfect.
I also think it is a big mistake to demand a perfect job from ourselves. We are human and therefore we make mistakes. Our children are human and therefore they are different from each other. That means that the same educational method used with the eldest son, who is an organised and sensible person, will not be suitable for the younger son, who is an extremely creative rebel. We can only apply our goodwill and tons of love and then hope that our efforts will help the child to become a good person and find their place in life.
Therefore, dear friend, do not be angry with your mother when she criticises your educational method: she is a parent and she is therefore always wrong.