Different Rules for Different Families

Welcome to the February 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions With Other Parents

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have focused on how we can communicate with other parents compassionately.


Photo by kissyface (Flickr)

Yes. I’m one of those moms who let’s my kids climb up the slides. Frankly, if there is no one trying to come down the slide, I don’t see any reason to put a limitation on it. I am always surprised by the amount of comments I hear from caregivers at the park about how slides are only to go down and if children don’t use them properly, they will be leaving. It could be said that I am setting a bad precedent by allowing my children to go up slides that are not in use by anyone.

I’ve received some looks before. In fact, one woman was so appalled by this that she grabbed my then 1 1/2 year old son off of a toddler slide and set him on the ground, assumably because 5 minutes earlier she had told her child that he could not climb up the slide and wasn’t happy that I told my kids they were fine as long as the slide was not in use. She said nothing to him or me. I was shocked. In my world, you don’t go around grabbing other people because you disagree with what they are doing when it has nothing to do with you. Needless to say, I was not happy about that situation and scooped my child up. We left shortly thereafter.

The fact is that different families have different rules. We can’t pretend to know what another family’s rules may be and other families shouldn’t expect us to follow their rules in public. As long as another family’s rules do not directly impact my family, they aren’t any of my business.

There have been times when we were specifically playing with another family who was not allowed to do something that my children were. I merely pointed out to my kids that their friend looked like she really wanted to what they were doing but that I didn’t think her family allowed it. They decided it would be really hard for her and made the decision to wait until we weren’t with that family to do the activity.

Learning that different people do things differently is a part of life. Learning to be true to your beliefs is a part of strength, independence, and integrity. Learning empathy when warranted is a part of compassion. Discussing that there are different rules for different families not only gives children a glimpse into how other people live but gives us an opportunity to discuss why we make our own decisions.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment — At Natural Parents Network, Amy (of Peace 4 Parents) offers some ways to deal with parenting advice and criticism, whether it’s from your mom or the grocery store clerk.
  • Judgement is Natural – Just Don’t Condemn — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shared her views on why judgment is unavoidable and why the bigger issue is condemnation.
  • Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares tips for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner.
  • When Other Parents Disagree With You — Being an attachment parent is hard enough, but when you are Lily, aka Witch Mom, someone who does not enforce gender roles on her kid, who devalues capitalism and materialism, and instead prefers homeschooling and homesteading — you are bound to disagree with someone, somewhere!
  • Mama Bashing — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on the hurt caused on the blogosphere by mama bashing and pleads for a more mindful way of dealing with differences.
  • Accentuate the Positive — Joella at Fine and Fair shares how she manages interactions with the parents she encounters in her work as a Parent Coach and Substance Abuse Counselor by building trusting relationships and affirming strengths.
  • The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents — Tara from MUMmedia offers great tips for handling the inevitable conflict of ideas and personalities in parenting/mother’s groups, etc.
  • Trying to build our village — Sheila at A Gift Universe tells how she went from knowing no other moms in her new town to building a real community of mothers.
  • Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how she handles heated topics in the “Mommy-space” online.
  • Parenting with Convictions — Sarah at Parenting God’s Children encourages love and support for fellow parents and their convictions.
  • How To Be Respectful Despite Disagreeing On Parenting Styles… — Jenny at I’m a Full-Time Mummy shares her two cents’ worth on how to have respectful interactions with other parents despite disagreeing on parenting styles.
  • Public RelationsMomma Jorje touches on keeping the peace when discussing parenting styles.
  • Navigating Parenting Politics — Since choosing an alternative parenting style means rejecting the mainstream, Miriam at The Other Baby Book shares a few simple tips that can help avoid hurt feelings.
  • Hiding in my grace cave — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to forget that not all parents are as respectful and tolerant as the people with whom she now surrounds herself.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting – Respectful Interactions with Other Parents — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores how her attitude has changed regarding sharing information and opinions with others and how she now chooses to keep the peace during social outings.
  • Empathy and respect — Helen at zen mummy tries to find her zen in the midst of the Mummy Wars.
  • Not Holier Than Thou — Amyables at Toddler in Tow muses about how she’s learned to love all parents, despite differences, disagreements, and awkward conversations.
  • Nonviolent Communication and Unconditional Love — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment reflects on the choice to not take offense as the key to honest and open communication.
  • Respectful Parenting As a Way of Life — Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about using her parenting philosophy as a guide to dealing with other parents who make very different choices from her.
  • Homeschooling: Why Not? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how parents can often make homeschooling work for their family even if, at first glance, it may seem daunting.
  • If You Can’t Say Something Nice… — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her philosophy for online and offline interactions … a philosophy based primarily on a children’s movie.
  • Different Rules for Different Families — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how differences between families affect our children, and how that can be a good thing.
  • Respectful Interaction With Other Parents — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares the ways she surrounds herself with a like-minded support network, so that she can gently advocate in her dealings with those whose opinions on parenting differ vastly from her own.
  • Parenting as a mirror — Rather than discrediting others’ parenting styles, Kate Wicker discusses why she tries to focus on doing right rather than being right — and why she’s also not afraid to show others that she’s a heartfelt but imperfect mama just trying to be the best mom for her family.
  • The One Thing {Most} Parents Have In Common: They Try Their Best — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry finds interacting with other parents easier once she accepts that they are all just trying their best, just like her.
  • Finding your mama-groove: 5 ways to eliminate judge/be judged metalityMudpieMama reveals 5 ways of thinking that have helped her find her mama-groove and better navigate tricky parenting discussions.
  • Speaking Up For Those Who Can’t — We’ve all had those moments when someone said something hurtful or insensitive, or downright rude that just shocks you to your core, and you’re stunned into silence. Afterwards, you go home and think “Gosh, I wish I said…” This post by Arpita at Up Down, And Natural is for all the breastfeeding mamas who have thought “Gosh, I wish I said…”
  • Thank you for your opinion — Gaby at Tmuffin shares her go-to comment when she feels like others are judging her parenting style.
  • Mending — A playground conversation about jeans veers off course until a little mending by Kenna at Million Tiny Things is needed.
  • The Thing You Don’t Know — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about what she believes is one of the most important things you can consider when it comes to compassionate communication with other parents.
  • 3 Tips for Interacting with Other Parents Respectfully When You Disagree with Them — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about respectful interactions on her parenting journey.
  • Peacefully Keeping My Cool: Quotes from Ana — How do you keep your cool? Ana from Pandamoly shares some of her favorite retorts and conversation starters when her Parenting Ethos comes into question.
  • Kind Matters — Carrie at Love Notes Mama discusses how she strives to be the type of person she’d want to meet.
  • Doing it my way but respecting your highway. — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle is determined to walk with her family on the road less travelled whether you like it or not!
  • Saying “I’m Right and You’re Wrong” Seldom Does Much To Improve Your Cause… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how living by example motivates her actions and interactions with others.
  • Have another kid and you won’t care — Cassie of There’s a Pickle in My Life, after having her second child, knows exactly how to respond to opposing advice.
  • Ten Tips to Communicate Respectfully, Even When You Disagree — What if disagreements with our partners, our children or even complete strangers ultimately led to more harmony and deeper connections? They can! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares ten tips to strengthen our relationships in the midst of conflict.
  • A Little Light Conversation — Zoie at TouchstoneZ explains why respect needs to be given to every parent unconditionally.
  • Why I used to hide the formula box — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen finally talks about how judgement between parents changed her views on how she handles differences in parenting.
  • Assumptions — Nada at minimomist discusses how not everyone is able to nurse, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • Shushing Your Inner Judgey McJudgerson — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction knows that judging others is easy to do, but recognizing that we all parent from different perspectives takes work.
  • Respectfully Interacting with Others Online — Lani at Boobie Time Blog discusses the importance of remaining respectful behind the disguise of the internet.
  • Presumption of Good Will — Why — and how — Crunchy Con Mommy is going to try to assume the best of people she disagrees with on important issues.
  • Being Gracious with Parenting Advice — Tips for giving and receiving parenting advice with grace from Lisa at My World Edenwild.
  • Explain, Smile, Escape — Don’t know what to do when you’re confronted by another parent who disagrees with you? Amy at Anktangle shares a story from her life along with a helpful method for navigating these types of tricky situations (complete with a handy flow chart!).
  • Balancing Cultures and ChoicesDulce de leche discusses the challenges of walking the tightrope between generations while balancing cultural and family ties.
  • Linky – Parenting Peacefully with Social MediaHannabert’s Mom discusses parenting in a social media world.


9 thoughts on “Different Rules for Different Families

Add yours

  1. I let my kids climb up slides, too, unless kids are trying to come down. It’s not even about being a rule, but it boils down to “choose your battles.”. If my toddler is trying to precariously scale the monkey bars, I might need to step in. But climbing up a slide? What’s the big deal so long as she is being courteous to other children?

    I do appreciate your thesis here. I find myself telling my oldest (7) that we have different rules and do things differently than other families all of the time. I try to explain this doesn’t make the decisions of other families bad. It just means they have made different choices.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. My daughter loves climbing the slides 😉 I am fine with it in the park, but in play places they normally have signs saying not to, in which case I don’t let her.

    I like the fact that your children make the decision with consideration to their friends. I think that’s great, because apart from learning about their world, they’re also learning to care for others. Awesome stuff!

  3. Definitely a good life-lesson to be learnt by your children, and a great (peaceful) way to teach it to them… let them make the decision for themselves, I like that 🙂

  4. I really enjoyed this post! I will say my jaw literally hit the ground when reading of another woman picking your child off the slide… I must admit you sound like you handled it MUCH more tactfully and respectfully than I would have!! I am always amazed how I always seem to forget how much children are absorbing. It’s so wonderful that your interactions with other parents allow more dialogue and openness with your own children! Thanks for the great post!

  5. “Discussing that there are different rules for different families not only gives children a glimpse into how other people live but gives us an opportunity to discuss why we make our own decisions.”

    It also gives us the opportunity to reflect ourselves on the rules we maintain and evaluate whether they truly align with our values or if they are rules passed down to us by our families that no longer have a place in our lives. There are many unspoken rules that I grew up with that I am learning to let go myself because they do not reflect the relationship I want with my children nor support their healthy development. Watching how other parents interact with their families helps me ponder about what I want for my own family.

  6. What a great approach to what can be a sticky social situation. We were at a dinner once where my son wanted to eat butter. I don’t see the nutritional difference between eating a pat of butter plain and eating it on top of a white flour roll (well, I don’t see the former as being worse, in any case!), so he was happily sucking on it when another little one decided she wanted just butter, too. But that wasn’t in her mom’s rule book, so the mom was sending me some looks like, Thanks a lot. I like the idea of involving both children in the exchange with a simple message about different rules for different families.

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