Raise your hand if…
…you’ve ever had to hold a sobbing toddler football style under your arm trying to leave the park as quickly as possible.
…you’ve inadvertently eaten out for all three meals in one day due to crazy schedules and lack of planning.
…you’ve had to sheepishly apologize for somehow losing your Costco membership card while standing in line only to find that your preschooler had been hiding it behind his back the whole time.
…you’ve had to hope that the wet slobbery worm next to your baby was wet for any other reason than the one that is really quite obvious. (I.can’t.even.)
I have. And this is just in this past month.
I don’t tell you this to disparage my children or myself. They are kids and I’m not perfect. Not even close.
The point is that we are all on the same playing field. All of us. Imperfect parents trying imperfectly to raise imperfect kids.
This much is the same. This much we all can agree upon.
But what about the stuff we don’t all do the same?
Today’s hot-button topics.
Just a mention of these things has the potential to bring on major mom-guilt. Too often inciting (at best) confusion and (at worst) bitterness.
What comes to your mind as hot-button topics? I can think of a handful.
FOOD. Oh, my goodness. The food camps. Processed. Unprocessed. To eat bread or go gluten-free. Green beans dehydrated at home or cheesy golden fish to snack on. Dairy or soy. Or almond milk, or goat milk, or sheep’s milk. (Wait, is that last one even a thing?)
Schooling. Kids in public school. Kids in private school. Kids in charter school. Kids homeschooled. And lest you think homeschooling is one decision in itself, then you find yourself in the middle of shopping for which methodology and curriculum fits your family.
And media choices.
And work decisions.
And you name it.
The list can go on and on.
These are all issues that we feel strongly about. As we should. They make big impacts on ourselves and our families. We are right to consider these things, weigh the options, and make real-life decisions about them. We would be remiss if we didn’t.
Can we all just agree, though, that these things don’t ultimately define us? I think if we can get to that point, two things will happen.
We will stop being hypersensitive.
I think it’s likely a product of our culture, but people just might be suffering from having the thinnest skin in decades. And I am totally pointing the finger at myself too. I am not above this. But I am aware of it.
It seems that one person cannot share a personal decision or conviction without someone else seeing it as an affront to their own (different) decision or conviction.
Are they judging me? Am I doing something wrong? Am I ruining my children’s lives?!!!!!
Three ways to curb hypersensitivity:
1. Stop always thinking about ourselves.
Guilty. I am too preoccupied with myself too often. It’s a battle to practice self-forgetfulness. But it’s one we are commanded to wage.
If we will just stop and listen to what others are saying and forget how it relates to us or how it is the exact opposite of what we do, then we will be able to listen with openness and an honest effort to understand the other person.
I’ll bet that most people are not sharing what they feed their kids or what kind of cleaner they use or what amazing piece of literature their children memorized and recited last week because they want you to feel bad about yourself. They are doing it because it has genuinely been a good thing in their lives and they are excited about it. And we talk about what we are excited about.
Which brings me to the second way to curb hypersensitivity:
2. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
Okay, maybe some people are big jerks who think that they are better than you and that you are ruining your kids and killing trees and have bad hair. There are people like that.
But unless you can read minds or hearts, you don’t know. And you are going to be much happier and healthier if you make it a habit to give other people the benefit of the doubt.
If what they say rubs you the wrong way, offer grace and kindness. Ask them another question to clarify what they mean. Dialogue (not debate) about what you have chosen. Or, if need be, change the subject to a more palatable topic.
Please, just don’t assume the worst. Because you know what assuming does…
3. Remember eternity.
I don’t know what kind of food will be served in heaven. I am pretty certain it won’t be junk food. What I’m really certain about, though, is that it won’t matter at all.
We need to remember that all these decisions we make are meant to serve our families. We are not meant to serve the decisions. I am not first a whole foods, homeschooling, no-tv-please, mom. I am first a follower of Jesus.
Let’s run this race with endurance. Let’s love our families well. By all means, let’s try to be healthy. Let’s try to raise children who are friendly and self-controlled and whatever else our family values.
Most of all, let’s keep eternity in mind. Let’s make sure our kids and neighbors and friends know what is truly important.
We will deepen our relationships.
When we come to the place where we agree that we do not have to be divided by our decisions, we will be able to deepen the relationships we have and start new ones we may never have expected.
Less judgments about superficial things.
More awareness that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to families.