We shouldn’t judge other mothers or fathers or parents. Because really, we never know anyone else’s story. And when we see pictures or even moments in the store of another parenting situation, we’re really seeing snapshots. There’s so much to the story that we’ll never know. And to prove it, I’m offering up 11 parenting photos from my parenting experience and a look at what the photo might say about me and my family. And then I tell you what the REAL story is.
1. He really is my son
What the story might be: Are your children adopted? Because they don’t look anything like you!
What the story really is: My friend Heather is married to a Vietnamese man and her son (sitting on my lap) has brown hair and brown eyes (like me). My son (sitting next to her) has blue eyes and blond hair, just like her. We used to joke that we ended up with the wrong babies. And even though they don’t look like their respective mothers, they are all ours!
2. He’s a budding artist
What the story might be: Your child has just drawn all over the floor and you (the parents) have clearly gone ballistic, making our child cry, and then photographing it for posterity.
What the story really is: I honestly don’t remember but I know I wasn’t upset. They were, of course, washable markers and wiped right off the floor. I think Evan was crying because he was frustrated and we thought it was funny in the midst of the floor mess.
3. Happy Meal toys make us happy
What the story might be: You really indulge your child with every single toy from a Happy Meal. And what are you doing feeding him McDonald’s anyway?
What the story really is: It’s a long one but it started with a very sad little boy and ended up with a social media story heard all over the U.S.
4. Where’s my daughter?
What the story might be: You clearly spent a wonderful day in the summer taking your sweet child to Dutch Wonderland in Pennsylvania.
What the story really was: We drove up for Dutch Winter Wonderland for the holiday light show in December and didn’t get there until late because we went outlet shopping first. And it was FREEZING. We did actually have a good time and I joked about our “missing daughter.”
5. What a great brusher!
What the story might be: You have such an awesome son who not only loves to brush his teeth but does so enthusiastically.
What the story really was: I was doing a sponsored post for Listerine and asked Evan to look excited about brushing his teeth. What can I say? He’s a blogger kid.
6. What does the fox say
What the story might be: What an adorably crocheted hat. I’m sure Evan must have LOVED it!
What the story really is: Much like the pink bunny suit in A Christmas Story, Evan was not too pleased with this hat. I think he felt it was too juvenile for him but since it was handmade for him, I made him pose for a picture. He later learned to like it.
7. Where did you get that lovely bracelet?
What the story might be: Oh, look at that beautiful new bracelet! He must enjoy wearing jewelry.
What the story really is: Evan had a lot of separation and social anxiety and out of desperation, I purchased this natural gemstone bracelet that was supposed to help with anxiety. Maybe it was just a placebo but it worked for him.
8. Having a sno cone
What the story might be: Looks like Evan has the good life playing video games and eating snow cones.
What the story really is: This was our first bout with strep throat and it was not pretty. My next door neighbor was kind and generous enough to lend us her snowcone to machine to helps ease the pain in the first few days.
9. The Life of the Party
What the story might be: It’s so great that Evan has friends over in his playroom. And oh my, isn’t his playroom well-stocked!
What the story really is: Evan, like a the true only child that he is, was very frustrated with the other children messing up his playroom (meaning they were playing with the toys). Ironically, Evan is fine if he messes it up himself.
10. LEGO Millenium Falcon joy!
What the story might be: Wow! Evan did a great job putting together that LEGO Millenium Falcon!
What the story really was: Wow! Evan’s mom did a really great job putting together that LEGO Millenium Falcon!
11. He’s a big boy
What the story might be: He sure is a big kid.
What the story really is: Yes, he is a big kid.
I ended with that last photo because it’s a true story. I’ll show people that don’t really know me a picture of my son. And they’ll say, Wow, he’s big. And by their tone, I can tell there’s more laced with that comment. And I find myself explaining how we don’t buy soda or junk food and how he plays tennis and does tae kwon do. I’ve even gone so far as to talk about what the doctor said at his 8 year checkup when, in fact, it’s really nobody’s business.
As parents, we have a watchful eye over our own children. And as parents, we have every right to. It’s our job to raise them in the best way we know how. But judgment of others, whether solicited or unsolicited, never adds value to anyone’s parenting experience.
Next time you catch a snapshot of someone else’s parenting style, just remember that parenting photos don’t always tell the full picture.
Side note: One of the best books I’ve ever read that really opened my eyes to remaining a non-judgmental parent was a book called The Elephant in the Playroom: Ordinary Parents Write Intimately and Honestly About Raising Kids with Special Needs. (affiliate link).
This was my final post as part of Similac’s Sisterhood of Motherhood campaign, a movement that focuses on offering moms encouragement not judgment. I’m proud to have been part of this sponsored campaign but all thoughts and opinions are my own.