As a parent I am my child’s primary advocate. Especially when they are small, what I say about E and S is the first and strongest impression people will receive about them. What do I want people to think about my children? If all I talk about is how they scream when I try to dress them, or the times when they don’t listen, or the messes they make, then it’s like pointing at the mess on the floor. Now it’s all you’ll notice. If I offer up other information, though, then other people have much greater opportunity to think well of my children.
It is so tempting to look for some sympathy. Parents of young kids are often tired. Believe me, I get it. It’s overwhelming, the completeness with which they need us. I know. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t find a safe space to process that out. You absolutely should. And please hear me correctly: I’m not saying we should pretend to be perfect, or that our children are. But if you really need to let off steam about something, it ought to be to someone who can think well about you and your kids, otherwise they won’t actually be helpful. If someone can’t think well about your kids, at best all they can do is say, “man, that sounds really hard,” and join in your pity party. At worst, they will agree with you that your kids are terrible. As parents, do we really want to encourage other people to think our children are the worst?
Consider two takes on the same book:
I just read this book; it’s about a bunch of people living in a fake place and they go on a trip or something and get lost in the woods and get separated and some of them die. And they’re fighting over this ring. I guess I liked it.
I just read this book; it’s about relationship, and how we can support each other and overcome anything, even if the odds seem terribly against us. It’s an epic story of courage found in the most unlikely places and it changed my life.
Which would you rather read?