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Katy England Katy England
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Less than you think

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Good parenting is a weird concept. It implies that there is a definitive right way and wrong way to do things, the unspoken idea being that if your kids are acting in a certain socially unacceptable way, you are somehow to blame for it.

One of the best parts of being a mom of three kids at the same time is knowing that the above is complete and utter BS. Now, I'm not saying you can go home and be a jerk to your kids with no repercussions, but the notion that a parent's actions dictate how a child is going to act in any given situation isn't realistic.

The great thing (and the sad thing) about being able to compare apples to apples is the knowledge that your input as a mom may not be as life changing for them as you think. If I just had the boy, I would think that I was an amazing cook; I was giving him the healthiest of things to eat and he loved them because I am such an awesome mom.

If it was just my youngest daughter, I would think I must have ruined her taste for vegetables by letting her eat crackers. Now all she wants to eat is carbs, peas be damned!

But it's not either of those things. I feed them (or desperately attempt to feed them) the same things. They had the same diet growing up, transitioning from breast milk to solids at the same time. And now they have vastly different opinions about food. I can't take all the credit for my dude eating everything thing he sees, be it vegetable, meat, dairy or part of the cardboard box. But similarly, I can't bear the brunt of the guilt for my darling girl refusing to touch green things (to the point where I now smuggle spinach into her system via morning oatmeal). It's not all me.

And as we move to the cusp of the twos (terrible or not there are mixed returns on this one), I am reminded that outbursts and calm have less to do with me than I might think.

The notion of parental responsibility can be a trap. If something works for you, you want to help others who are in difficulty not because you are a nosy busybody, but because you honestly want to help someone. I remember walking in Portland, and this poor mom was in a struggle with her toddler, who desperately wanted to run into traffic. She irrational person that she was wouldn't let him. All I wanted to do was give her a hug and hand her a glass of cool white wine. But you can't; that'd be weird, and illegal. Worse, she probably thought I was judging the hell out of her, when really all I wanted to do was ask her if she wanted me to grab his legs while she took his arms, and we could walk him Ewok style back to her car.

So, what can you do? Well, wait for the ask. I ask my mom friends loads of questions. Some stuff works, other stuff just doesn't apply due to crowd control. But having a decent pool of friends to draw from is helpful.

Don't offer unsolicited advice. If a mom asks you something, cool. Answer with confidence. But try not to walk into someone's home and offer all sorts of helpful tips. This is hard - again, not because we're bad people, but because we are so very good and helpful. But imagine just for a moment that someone walked in and told you how to arrange your living room. You might bristle. It's the same when offering parenting tips.

And if you ever are on the receiving end of unwanted tips try to remember we're just trying to help, and we still miss our brains, even if our kids are older.

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