I am generally good at letting people’s advice and comments about my parenting roll off my shoulders. I know they are usually well-meaning and not trying to insult my intelligence or capabilities (they just haven’t read Amy Poehler’s book). And truthfully, I know we are doing a pretty good job raising our kid. She’s awesome.
The one comment that I just can’t stand? “You’re SO lucky!”
I know, it sounds harmless. Hear me out.
When Ruby was an infant, everyone’s favorite question to ask with a slight chuckle and sympathetic eyes was, “Is she sleeping through the night?” And I would always answer with a giant smile and well-rested eyes, “Yes, she’s been sleeping through the night since she was 2 months old!” The response, every time without fail? “You’re so lucky that you got a good sleeper!”
Now, I don’t doubt that luck played a role there (along with some genetics, as she was born of two people who love their sleep), but it also has to do with our parenting. We read the books, established a sleep plan before she was born, and even had the sound machine with us in the hospital. We dutifully followed her cues and developed a rhythm that had us all well-rested, well-fed, and happy early on in the game.
We still often hear about our “luck” when we take her out to eat. We have been taking her to restaurants since she was, oh, 6 days old. Now entering her toddler years, she’s not always the most pleasant dinner companion, but she’s mostly good. Again, I don’t doubt there’s some luck at play here, but I also give a heavy dose of the credit to the not-so-fun dinners out where we taught her boundaries and acceptable behavior that have led up to all the fun ones.
Here’s the thing about telling parents that we’re lucky: it implies that it’s luck, not good parenting, that has made our kids so awesome. We’re totally removed from the equation. But when our kids aren’t being so awesome, no one chalks that up to being “unlucky.” For those of you whose newborns didn’t sleep through the night, I’m sure no one said, “Oh, you’re so unlucky! You didn’t get a sleeper! Too bad!” No. They probably offered you piles of sleep advice with the undertone that you’re not parenting well enough. For those of you whose kids don’t like eating out, no one said “Oh! You unlucky thing with your screaming toddler! Nothing to be done!” No. They probably side eyed you through your entire meal and whispered about your parenting juuuust loud enough for you to hear. We only get credit for parenting when things aren’t going well.
Let’s change that. The next time you talk to a mom about something parenting related, try telling her “Wow! That’s awesome parenting! Good job!” instead of “Wow! You’re so lucky!” and watch her glow. Let’s give each other credit for the good stuff too, because that’s what can carry us through the not-so-good stuff. And we’re all pretty much nailing this parenting thing.