There’s no one ‘right way’ to parent your child

When visiting a park overflowing with kids, my reactions are always mixed. On the one hand, Great! My children will have a playmate to play with that’s not just me—potentially giving me the rare opportunity to catch my breath and have a moment to relax.

On the other hand, it can be utterly exhausting to play referee between children who are learning how to share or take turn when I just want a peaceful park experience.

On one particular occasion, as we arrived to the park, I observed a family as wholesome as the word is defined. Their eldest was sitting at the end of the slide reading his bible. The mom watched with glee while the dad and daughter were playing tennis on the courts.

And then there was us.

As our kids began to interact, I could anticipate it wasn’t going to be a sought after laid-back experience. As soon as this boy pulled out a toy car, I saw my son’s immediate interest in attaining that toy for his own. And what did my son do? He grabbed it. Just snatched it right from the other child’s hands. Complete impulse took over without even pausing to think.

There my son was, the bully. That dreaded moment where you cringe watching your child’s actions and guessing the other parent’s thoughts about your parenting.

After returning the stolen toy to the little boy, I began to go through my spiel, which probably sounded like a recording after saying it so many times: “Honey, that’s not nice. We don’t take toys from other children.” Yadda, yadda.

During my speech, the other mom decided to interject telling me, “It’s not that serious.” She then proceeded to take the toy from her son and give it back to mine, instructing him he could play with it.

Before this moment, she and I hadn’t shared much conversation beyond cordial commentary. As I heard her tell me it wasn’t that serious, I was immediately taken aback. I was a bit embarrassed thinking I somehow turned into that mom who was too intense and concerned with her children and not giving them the freedom to explore and learn.

But, wait. That’s not me. I pick my battles, yes, but I am not the excessively harsh or fierce parent by any means.

Even if I wanted to be, I’m too exhausted to attempt. I’m 7-months pregnant and constantly running after two toddlers. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

After giving my son the toy, she transitioned her son onto something else. The moment went as quickly as it came, but it stuck with me.

In the grand scheme of things, of course, there are bigger fish to fry in the world than my child taking a toy from another child. But to me, in that moment, it was serious in the manner that it’s my job to help my child navigate through the world and learn right from wrong.

I am not on a high horse, by any means. Everything I thought about parenting has been thrown to the wind since my first-born came into the world. I am still learning about parenting and even with my best effort, I feel like I can do better. There is no guidebook, and most of the time I question what I’m doing.

Maybe it was the day to pick that battle and, on another, I would’ve let it go. Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones. Regardless, how else do I teach my child not to take other people’s things unless I tell him? Maybe she drew the lucky hand of giving birth to these magical children born with this trait engrained in their DNA. Unfortunately, I was not that lucky.

I walked away from the park second-guessing everything I was doing as a parent and whether or not I should’ve just let it go. Is there a right answer? Was I trying too hard? Is there such a thing as “trying too hard” when it comes to parenting?

To be honest, I envied her laissez-faire attitude. She effortlessly sat back on the park bench taking in the beautiful day almost as if she didn’t have a care in the world. How do I get to that euphoric place?

Meanwhile, here I am thinking about everything and anything: Did I lock the door? What am I getting my husband for Father’s Day? What am I going to make the kids for lunch? Are they eating healthy enough? What are they going to be for Halloween? Is that smell me or the kids?

Am I standing in my own way to get to this unattainable happy place?

Analyzing the situation more than a normal human being would, I’m sure her children respond effectively to that approach, which did seem to reciprocate based on their demeanors. They were very polite, mild-mannered and picture-perfect tiny human beings.

On the other end of the spectrum, mine are very energetic and strong-willed. One is entering terrible twos and the other is the definition of a threenager. Both are testing the limit every chance they get with a secret craving for direction and guidance, trying to understand what’s expected of them and what is considered appropriate behavior.

Thinking back about it all, there isn’t a hands down right or wrong answer. Every child is different with individual personalities just as each parent is.

You take the approach that best aligns with your morals, values and attitudes and adapt it to best coincide with your child’s unique personality and temperament. My approach isn’t the same as another parent’s, but neither is wrong.

We are all in this together trying to raise our children the best to our abilities.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.


Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.


Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.


Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!


Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.


Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.


'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."


Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.


Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.


Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!


Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.


Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.


Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.


Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


For all the sweating and swimming I do in the summer, it seems illogical for my skin to be as parched as ever. But your mid-thirties (and 2020 in general) don't really seem to follow any rule book, so here we are.

A couple of months ago, I was on the lookout for a moisturizer that would not only keep my legs from looking like an ashy mess, but also truly nourish and benefit my skin. I've developed a deep interest in skin care for my face over the past few years and decided it's high time to extend that degree of consideration to the rest of my body. (After all, there's more of it, right?)

It's not that I'm too concerned with aging, but let's be real. If there's something that can be done to slow the Wrinkle Express, I'm going to give it a go. I also wanted to find something natural that wouldn't turn into a goopy mess the second I started sweating.

Enter: Esker's Firming Body Oil.

Keep reading Show less

Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play