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This morning my well-meaning baby sister offered me some parenting advice and I almost bit her head off.

There it is and I’m not proud of it. Perhaps if the comment had come on day when I hadn’t spent half of the night (and the preceeding week of nights) up with a sick child, or two, I could have held it together, smiled, thanked her for her insight and chalked it up to a young auntie trying to be helpful. I wish I had had such presence of mind.

Parenting is tough enough without the scrutiny. So many experts, family members, friends, workmates, even strangers feel compelled to help out by offering their tidbits of advice. Being back in my parents’ home has highlighted this for me even more.

Every family has their own way of raising children. When I married my husband we agreed that parenting is a two person job. We try to take the best of what we received from our own upbringings, build on it, and pass that on to our children. As such we don’t quite line up with either family.

I’ve been accused of not accepting parenting advice. Not true. I’ve sought advice, considered it, measured it, discussed it with my girls’ father and decided whether or not to implement it. I so wish good intentions were never loaded. Deciding whether or not to use suggestions we receive is our responsibility as parents. Just as the questions of what sort of games are played and television is viewed – which depends not only on a lack of violence but also the language, the messages they carry and so on.

This past week was one of those which should not be witnessed – the kind where mothers confess serving cereal for dinner because they’re too tired to cook. Dragging myself out of bed after interrupted sleep to face ill and over-tired children both needing my full attention all day I am in survival mode. My efforts to make the house tidy before everyone returns from work would have been abandoned if we were on our own. And no one would have witnessed the end of day weariness which sometimes accompanies daddy’s homecoming.

I love my children. I do my best for them. And when my best isn’t up to standard I go easy for a day or two and pick up where we left off.

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