Friday, May 27, 2016

Moms Know Best

I am Reuben's mom. I was there in the intimate moment when he was conceived. I was the one crying through the contractions as he was born. And I am the one to choose how he is raised--or am I?

In this secular world we live in, I feel many professionals expect to take a more active role in raising my child then I think necessary. Our government regulates a lot of things, and child-rearing is no exception. As I lean more and more towards natural choices, I see myself fighting for the right to raise my child, and I simply don't understand it. He's my child. I conceived, carried and bore him. I am his mother. I am the one responsible for him. Professionals, in my opinion, are there to offer guidance in the area of their expertise, not to impose rigid ultimatums and scare tactics.

Today I asked myself: when did this start to become the norm? When did we start telling mothers that they don't know what is best for their children? In a world where the government raises your children through public schools, runs sexual education programs, imposes laws about injections and vaccinations without considering the individual medical history of each child, and even creates rules about what your child can eat for lunch, it's no wonder we as moms think we don't know anything.

I grew up in what would now be labeled "free range". Back then it was just called parenting. My mom allowed me and my sister to have the run of the neighborhood as preteens. We thought nothing of it. I mean, of course we had rules--to check in every few hours, and to tell her what house we were going to... Never once did I feel abandoned by my mother. I frolicked and made friends and played imaginary games about castles and knights up and down my street while my mom did laundry and had a few peaceful kid-free moments by herself. I never felt unsafe, parents were always watching, poking their heads outside and waving at us, making us cookies and giving us water.

I think nothing odd about my childhood. But Reuben's will be very different, sadly. The days of free range kids is over: it's now considered abuse to let your child out of your sight. Sure, the world is a different place. But I know if I allow Reuben a "free range" adolescence I will probably end up needing a lawyer at some point.

Why is this? Why can I not make decisions on how I raise my son, and how much freedom I allow him at what age? Why am I treated like I don't know what is best for him? I and my husband are the ones that know Reuben. We, as parents, should know how responsible he is and be able to allow or disallow certain things based on our knowledge of our son. A one size fits all approach to childhood negates not only parental right, but the complexity of individual children.  

What part of this is yours?
I firmly believe mom knows best. I am, after all, the one who (with my husband) loves my child best. I will be spending the next 17-19 years with him in our household. I will diligently research everything if I feel something is wrong. Unlike a doctor who has many patients, I have one son and hours upon hours a day to devote to his care. Sure, I need professional advice sometimes. But that is all it should be: advice. To take it or leave it.

We need to stop making moms feel like they don't know what they are doing. We need to stop with the scare tactics and the manipulation. Instead, we should empower parents to make informed decisions for their kids that they feel is best, and support them throughout the parenting process.

I am my son's mother, and I believe I am best equipped to make decisions regarding his health until he is old enough to make those decisions on his own. Moms know best. End of story.