My son was a relatively easy child to parent during his toddler and pre-school years. You asked him to do something and he generally did it. If he didn't, counting to three always worked. I thought I had it sussed. I will admit that I thought I was pretty good at this parenting lark and watched others struggling in the supermarket whilst I felt a little bit smug.
My daughter was around nine months old when she started having tantrums. I quickly caught on that if I was going to get through the toddler years with my sanity relatively intact, I was going to have to pick my battles.
Just before Christmas I picked the wrong battle and felt awful about it. We had just been to see Father Christmas on a steam train and my daughter had been given a monster called Boris. It was a perfect present for her. She adores monsters. However, on our way home in the car she started kicking off about something (I genuinely can't remember what it was). I said a sentence I instantly regretted "If you don't stop, I will send your monster back to Father Christmas". Obviously she tested this, so we confiscated the present and told her we would ask him to bring it back at Christmas. Luckily for us he did. But that was a battle I needn't have had. I am sure we could have solved it more effectively.
Fast forward a month and my daughter refused to wear her coat to school to pick up her brother. This wouldn't matter if it were not winter. Or if it wasn't snowing. But hey! Luckily school is only a five minute walk away, so I knew she wouldn't be long without her coat. If we'd had more time I might have managed to force her to wear it, but we had to leave or else we would have been late. So I let her walk to school without her coat. In the snow. It was freezing. Halfway to school she complained that she was cold. By the time we got to school, she ran inside to keep warm.
The next morning she asked to wear her coat.
I happened to mention this on Facebook and was surprised at how many parents judged me. Adamant that they would have forced their child to wear a coat. Initially I was a little hurt by their comments, but then I thought about it. When I did, I realised that they are the kind of people who would have judged me whatever I did. If I had turned up to school with a screaming child, devastated by the fact I had forced her to do something against her wishes, I would have been the bad one. If I had turned up to school with a child who ran straight inside because she was cold due to the fact she had refused to wear a coat, I would have been the bad one.
All too often as a parent you are judged without people knowing the full details. I know I have been guilty of it in the past. Ultimately though, the decisions are yours. Yours alone and you need to be confident in them, whether they are right or wrong. None of us are perfect. Perhaps it's time to stop being so hard on each other?
Just a thought.