Everyone in the life of a child brings a mix of elements into the relationship. As parents, it can be tempting to close off from the imperfect people, protecting our precious small (and big) ones from the challenges that come with extended family, some friends, neighborhoods, and community. We naturally want our children to have the best experience.
Of course we know that we are an imperfect element in their lives! We are aware of the ways we fail our kids. We may wish we were more patient, clear, energetic, calm, or whatever.
When our kids are with other people, it can be all too easy to judge those others. Whether grandparents are indulgent or strict, absent or needy, we can struggle with their relationships with our children. Our siblings and extended family may be wonderfully supportive or may be difficult, subtly judging some kids favorably and others unfavorably. Spouses and partners can mishandle family routines, forgetting to feed kids until they're starving and cranky, riling them up before bedtime, skipping parts of the routine that are important to us. Neighbors and friends may have different rules than we do about food, play, acceptable words, and entertainment.
There are people and situations that we need to protect our kids from, and it's good to recognize those and be willing to say 'no' as needed. Most people in our children's lives, though, are not dangerous. They may be annoying and challenging for us.
So how do we handle those people and situations?
I'm a mom, wife, daughter, friend, and teacher who has long struggled with the desire to be the perfect person I imagine that I should be. Practicing mindfulness helps me find peace with my imperfect journey--being with myself as I truly am, loving my family as they are, and showing up for a messy world with openness and compassion.