When you become a parent, you’re bombarded with all sorts of advice. Sometimes it comes from your loved ones, sometimes from strangers who feel compelled to throw in their two cents. Although some advice may be unwarranted and leave you feeling frustrated, it’s important to keep an open mind. As a mum of three young girls, I’ve learned that sometimes it’s worth listening to another person’s opinion.
The head lice incident
A couple months ago, my eldest got her first case of head lice. It took me hours to treat the eggs in her hair. Knowing that it could spread to her two younger sisters, I was concerned about any close contact between my daughters.
After picking Alisha up from school one day, she asked me whether she could play on her sister’s school playground.
I said to my eldest:
“Okay, you can all play on the playground. But please don’t get too close to your sisters. We don’t want to spread the lice.”
Only about 5 minutes into playing, Alisha did exactly what I’d told her not to – she was getting really close to one of her sisters and hugging her tightly.
I was furious. My 7 year old has a remarkable memory, so I didn’t feel she could’ve just simply forgotten. I felt she was old enough to follow those simple instructions.
I immediately told my girls that we were going to head home.
My friend, another mum at the school, was chatting to me at the time. After my reaction to my daughter, she said,
“Awww, they’re kids. They can’t help it.”
My immediate reaction was to think:
“Yeah, but I told her beforehand. She’s old enough to know better.”
But after cooling down, I thought about what she’d said properly. Here was a good friend of mine, someone whose opinion I valued, alluding to the fact that I’d been too hard on my daughter. I had two choices: I could let my ego get in the way and dismiss her opinion, or I could accept that maybe I was being too hard on my daughter and needed to give her another chance.
I chose the latter. And my daughter didn’t end up doing it again.
When I didn’t just hear what my friend had said, but actually listened, I opened myself up to an opportunity of personal growth. I didn’t just take the opportunity to become a better parent, but a better person as well.
There’s always room for improvement
Whenever someone gives us constructive criticism, it’s natural to get defensive. It’s natural to feel that we are being judged and condemned for the way we are and the way we do things.
But I believe all of us – all parents – have the potential to be even better parents than we already are. But it’s a matter of acknowledging the fact that there is room for improvement. It’s about realising that it’s not about being ‘perfect’. It’s about fulfilling our potential.
Learning from other parents
It’s easy to dismiss the opinion of other parents, but we need to remember that we are all in this together. Parenting is a tough job, but it can be made easier by working with each other.
If anyone shares their opinion with you, have a stop and think whether it’s a valid one. Think about whether there’s any substance in what they’re saying.
Sometimes a person’s opinion is worth dismissing, but sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes it really is worth listening to.
Giving ourselves the opportunity to become better parents isn’t just for us, it’s for our children as well.
By continuing to improve ourselves, we are teaching our kids that they can always become a better version of themselves.
This article was written by Thuy Yau, who is a freelance writer and mother of three. You can see her complete profile here.