Let’s delve into the ups and downs of being a non-traditional parent in today’s society, which includes breaking away from conventional motherhood roles, handling the opinions of others, finding support in supportive, like-minded communities, developing an individual parenting style (and owning it), as well as introducing children to diverse viewpoints and experiences.
There’s no denying that being a parent is a tough gig, and it’s certainly not for everyone, but being a non-traditional mum is a whole different ball game. As someone who doesn’t fit the typical mould of a mum, I understand the feeling of not belonging to the ‘mum group’ and occasionally facing scrutiny for my decisions.
It’s been a tough learning curve, but I’ve become more comfortable embracing my own take on the ‘traditional mum’ role. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What is a non-traditional mum?
So, what exactly does it mean to be a non-traditional mum? For starters, it means you don’t fit into the typical mould of what society deems a ‘good mum’. You might have had kids later in life or chose to adopt instead of having biological children. Perhaps you’re a single mum, or you and your partner have decided to split parenting duties equally.
No matter your situation, it’s without a doubt, you’re approaching things uniquely, which can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Society has concocted unrealistic expectations and stereotypes, which may not be a one-size-fits-all; every parent is different, and every family is unique. What works for one mum may not work for another, and that’s okay.
Everyone wants a say, but who cares?
One of the biggest (and most annoying) challenges of being a non-traditional mum is dealing with other people’s opinions. And boy, do they have a lot – from your birthing choice to whether or not you breastfeed or formula-feed; everyone has an opinion on how you should raise your kids.
But here’s the thing: despite what your doubts sometimes tell you, you know your kids better than anyone else and know what’s best for them. As a parent, it’s important to trust yourself and the choices you make for your child. Don’t let anyone make you doubt yourself.
Another one of the long list of challenges mothers face is dealing with the pressure to conform. There’s this lurking need to change who you are to fit in or be accepted in the ‘traditional mum group’, which can be a little isolating. But despite the persistent pressure, staying true to yourself and your core parenting values is vital. It doesn’t take changing who you are to be a good parent because, guess what? There is no such thing! We are all out here just doing our very best.
Tribe, where art thou?
Another challenge is finding your tribe, and I speak from personal experience when I say this is quite a feat. It can be hard to find other moms who share the same experiences and values. But trust me, they’re out there! Look for mum groups with values that resonate with your own or even better, start your own! You’ll be surprised how many others are in the same boat as you.
It’s not all sad times!
Now, let’s talk about the fun parts of being a non-traditional parent. For starters, you get to define what this means to you – the world is your oyster. You don’t have to follow anyone else’s rules or expectations. You get to create your own parenting style that works for you and your family.
And non-traditional moms tend to be pretty cool too. You’re breaking the mould and paving the way for future generations of mums to do the same without giving in to the pressures of what society deems is a ‘good mum’.
This also means exposing your kids to a wide variety of experiences and perspectives. Maybe you’re a working mom, whether part- or full-time, and your little ones get to see you excel in your career. Or perhaps you’re a stay-at-home dad, and your kids get to see that gender roles don’t have to be so rigid. Whatever the situation may be, your kids are learning from you that there’s no one right way to do things.
Reset and recharge, always!
Motherhood (and parenting) is tiring – I get told at least once a weekend that I look tired. It’s because I am, which is why I’m a huge believer in self-care, and no, it doesn’t include lugging my kids. Sorry, I love my little rascals, but I don’t necessarily love being with them ALL THE TIME.
It’s a full-time job that often results in neglecting your needs, so making time for yourself to do things you enjoy is important, and if it means doing them without your kids, do so! Whether it’s reading a book, taking a bubble bath, catching up on your favourite show, or working out; you’ll be better equipped to care for your family when you care for yourself. A well-rested and happy mum makes an even better mum.
Whatever it is, being a non-traditional parent is both challenging and rewarding, and even those who dub themselves as a traditional mum have it hard. Guess what? Parenting is not easy in the slightest, and the best we can do is our (very) best, and if our kids are happy – we are already winning! So, to all mums (and dads), whether you choose to go the traditional route or not, keep doing you! You’re amazing and doing a fantastic job.