Respectful Parenting Or Weird Parenting?

respectfulparenting Aug 07, 2022

Lots of you have shared stories about feeling judged for parenting respectfully.

A frequent question on the group is- how do we handle the judgements from the other adults when we try to parent respectfully. (I usually direct this question to a post I wrote about it.. link below).

But today I want to give you another idea.

What if we started using the language people use for us to empower ourselves?

For example, one word that comes up a lot is "weird".

"That's a weird way to parent!" "That's a weird thing to say!" "That's just weird!"

In Urdu, we hear that we're different (in a negative way). "Tum anokhi aye ho!" "Ye anokha tareeqa hai!" etc.

So I thought, why not embrace this weirdness?

All my life I thought I was weird and I was right.

I was weird! Except I was weird because I had ideas no one else had!

I thought I needed to be like everyone else and I really tried. I tried to blend in. I tried to say and do all the right things but it didn't feel right and I still didn't fit in. Well now I know why. It's because I wasn't meant to be like everyone else. And I don't think I'm unique in that.

I'm certain that none of us were meant to be like each other. Think about it. If you're a painter or an artist or even a writer, like me, do you want to create the same thing over and over? That would be so darned boring!

Why then would Allah, the Best Creator of all time create carbon copies of us? We're all wonderfully weird in our own way and we can embrace that weirdness and when we do, we see amazing things!

What if we're all so busy trying to fit the mould that we don't discover who we are.

Think about it... even our biggest fear about our kids is that they're 'different'. We're constantly comparing them to their age-mates or cousins and checking if all is well and they're "the same as others". If there's any sign of uniqueness in our child, we lose sleep over it. What's this obsession with "sameness"?

Well, its hard-wired in us. It's "tribe mentality". When we're part of a tribe, we feel safer. Eons ago, if you didn't belong to a tribe, you were not trusted and your very life was at stake. So it makes sense why, biologically we're seeking to fit in.

But now that I've made you aware of this, you can overcome your biological need to fit in and and proudly stand out. Let's be weird together, ya'll.

Who likes this for our new slogan? Should I change the group's tag line up there?

And I made it "Hum anokhay hain aur achay hain" (We're different and good) instead of just "hum anokhay hain!" (we're different) because I wanted to reiterate that being weird and being good aren't mutually exclusive. Different can also be good. And in this case, is good.

For centuries, the word 'different' has been used to disempower people and make them feel small and "less than" and it doesn't have to be that way for us! Only we get to decide who we are and how we feel about it! Yes?!

I'm weird and amazing!

I'm different and proud of it!

Main anokhi hoon aur achi hoon!

Main anokha hoon aur acha hoon!

Woot woot!

So next time, someone says to you that you're weird ya ap ka anokha style hai, you can smile and feel empowered and perhaps say, "Yes, I can see why you think I'm different/weird- would you like to know more?"

***************** (You don't have to engage in dialogue if you're not ready, you can say, I can send you an article etc. I'll link one below by Dr. Nicole Carvill that you can share. For Pakistani parents, you can use Salman Siddiqui's videos if you think they will say ye goron wali baatain hamay na batao- he uses Hadith to explain. It's important to remain respectful and empathetic and know that it makes sense for them to be doubtful. We know more so we do need to be more patient and kind. )