This parenting thing is not for lightweights.  I’m sure there are times when it feels like bobbing along the river on a bright sunny day, but right now it’s more like standing chest deep in a raging ocean, fighting to hold my own against pounding waves and a fierce undertow.  Life with the lil’ peeps seems to move in cycles – up cycle, down cycle, crazy cycle, repeat – while we hang on for the ride.

(Don’t be alarmed if you stumble across me muttering quietly “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.”)

Everyone’s on their own beach, metaphorically speaking, and dealing with their waves the best they can.  I don’t claim that my parenting methods should be the gold standard, just that they’re working for our family.  Which means we’re doing the best we can.


I get that every child is different, and every parent makes the best choices they can for their family.  But when I embraced this melting pot of parenting philosophies there was one factor I failed to consider…I never really thought about what happens when your parenting style clashes with the people around you.

See, I talk a good game about not thinking my parenting methods are best, but it’s a little too easy to slip into the trap of “What on earth is she THINKING?!” when it comes to watching other people with their kids.  I have to stop, step back, and remind myself that this is not my child and not my business.

I use all kinds of tricks to help: jaw tight, teeth clenched, lips pressed together – particularly when someone is letting their kid walk all over them.  At times it’s meant biting my tongue so hard I taste blood.  I just keep reminding myself Not my clowns, not my circus.  If that’s the way you want to live, be my guest.

But if I’m going to be brutally honest, despite trying to be neutral (hello, Switzerland) there are certain things I can’t tolerate.  Watching someone behave a certain way with their own kid makes me sad, but if it spills over onto mine?  Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition ’cause we’re about to throw down in here.

While I do know how to behave myself in public, mama bear instincts will not be denied.  I’m T-man and Bear’s advocate, so if something’s happening that I think is hurting them my choices are to stand by and watch or step in and protect them.  And that’s not really a choice at all.

Please note that I’m talking about other adults here.  I’m in no way advocating stepping in to solve all of your kid’s problems because the world’s not made for lightweights either.  Too many parents are raising kids who will face adulthood without life skills they desperately need…but that’s a post for another time.

It’s not uncommon to find myself in a situation where I need to step up for my kids.  Sometimes it’s a stranger in Walmart, someone at the park, a parent from school, even one of your own relatives. There are all kinds of times when my kids end up interacting with another adult in parent mode, and when that’s the case those adults inevitably speak to T-man and Bear the way they speak to their own child.

Sometimes that’s fine.  Sometimes it’s more than fine, actually…we have some good friends who are often able to reach our kids when all they hear from us is white noise.  (Cue Charlie Brown’s teacher: “whaa-whaa-whaa.”)  

But sometimes it’s decidedly less than fine.  I can explain away a certain amount of behavior – we’re all human, you can’t expect someone to be perfect just because they’re an adult – but there are some actions that sit solidly on my No Go list.

Yelling?  Nope.  Not okay.  Unless my kid’s about to get hit by a car or start a fire, do not yell at him. I’m also not a huge fan of cursing.  I don’t mean the I-kicked-a-rock-and-let-something-fly moments. More like the purposeful use of cuss words while addressing my child.  Often in conjunction with yelling, so that’s a double whammy right there.

It’s times like these when life gets tricky.  Where to draw the line, when to step in, exactly how loud the mama bear growls to protect her cubs.  It turns out not all parenting styles lend themselves to the melting pot philosophy, so I’m feeling my way through that minefield.

It sure would be nice to feel like I was on solid ground.  Parenting styles can be especially tricky – people tend to get defensive when you step on their toes in parent mode.  And you know what they say about minefields…one wrong step and boom.