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What We Need To Remember About Parenting

Dear Mothers Everywhere (including any Fathers that care to chime in on the debate),

Suppose for just a minute that a new rule has been established and we as parents are all going to be evaluated and judged by it. Are you ready for it? The rule, that is? Okay. The rule is (drum-roll, please): Good parenting is now to be decided on what type of cereal you serve your children for breakfast.

Uh-huh.

So here is how this is going to go down.

If you fall into the hot cereal camp, you will promote until your final dying day the virtues of hot cereal as a means of raising healthy, well-rounded children. Red River, Steel-Cut Oatmeal, Cream of Wheat and who-knows-what-other concoction that is hot and steamy and otherwise infused with elevated temperatures inducing heat- it’s all good. And oh so necessary for a child’s best start to life. But let’s not just leave it there. This hot cereal movement- it must continue all throughout your offspring’s childhood to be otherwise effective. A child must have hot cereal served to them (on a golden platter or not) for the duration of their stay in your home, or this effort will be thwarted. For a mother/father to be competent, hot cereal is the only way to go.

Unless you fall in line with thinking in the other camp.

That is, you find yourself believing that cold cereal is the only means to raising a healthy, productive, loving child. Cheerios, Shreddies, Rice Crispies, Shredded Wheat- the colder the product, the better the outcome. As long as it is served with a chilled dousing of your pick of milk, your child will be guaranteed to turn out as good as is humanly possible.

Of course, there will always be parents that fall in between the dividing lines- choosing to, at times, serve hot cereal for a while before returning to an all-cold service (or vice-versa). And what do we do with parents who don’t serve cereal at all?

The absurdity of basing one’s parenting on what type of cereal one dishes up for breakfast seems a bit ridiculous, although there are no doubt very strong feelings about such, somewhere in the world (a quick perusal of Google comes up with 22,400,000 results).

But really, is this debate regarding cereal types such a crazy thing on which to base our parenting expertise? Could it be that we as parents make much ado over anything, given the opportunity- polarizing ourselves into starkly opposite camps over just about every issue under the sun?  There are more ridiculous arguments to be had, for sure.

This is where I am going with all of this. Over the last forty-eight hours, there have been quite a few viral articles floating around regarding which is better- STAY AT HOME PARENTING or PARENTING BY THOSE WHO WORK OUTSIDE THE HOME. It sort of feels like we are reducing our uniquely individual choice to parent to an issue of what type of cereal we must needs offer so as to raise healthy children. Because quite honestly, from what cereals we serve up… right on through to whether we work outside the home or not: these are uniquely personal choices one must make as a parent and not blanket decisions that one camp or the other really has any influence over.  Let alone the court of public opinion.

Perhaps today, I feel the desire to serve hot cereal. Tomorrow I might rethink that decision.

I say all this to say the following: I have been both a SAHM as well as a working mom (of which I am currently), and for both parenting roles, I have agonized deeply over the best possible means in which to parent while carrying out my responsibilities. My desire as a mom/parent is to be the best possible mom I can be- whether I am serving up cold cereal or hot, whether I am working outside the home or not.

To reduce these decisions- which I must make as a uniquely personal choice that is best for my particular family- to the public arena of opinion and debate, (in which people are polarized into camps and otherwise divided and alienated) is truly a shame.  It is a shame along with being a shame-inducer.  Double-whammy.

Let’s live and let live, people.

We are all doing the best we know how. We are all in this together. We are making the best choices we are able to make given the circumstances of our lives right now. Let’s stop making one another feel bad for the parenting choices we make and start a movement of compassion for one another to replace it that builds on unity rather than division.

Because truth be told: parents who love their kids are far more effective when they are making decisions that suit their family’s needs than they are when doing what they feel ‘guilted’ into doing because of societal pressure.  Love wins over duty each and every time- and we all know, you can’t box in love.

It’s too big for that.

We need to stop the (cereal/ parenting debates) shaming once and for all… in the name of love, people. If you love your kids and you are doing an otherwise decent job of raising them, WHO CARES WHAT KIND OF CEREAL YOU SERVE UP FOR BREAKFAST!!!

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