Stop Apologizing for Being Different

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Every day I work hard to be a good mom.  There are days where I’m proud of the job I’ve done, and other days when I’m not.   I think that kind of goes with the territory.  I know I’m not perfect, but I always try to make decisions based on what I think is right for my family.  Some of those decisions aren’t the norm, but instead of being proud of paving my own path, recently I’ve started apologizing for them.  It’s time for me to stop being sorry and start embracing my differences.
My daughter started kindergarten last month, which means I’ve been getting involved at school, going to meetings and introducing myself to other parents in her class.  A few weeks ago, I went to a meeting where moms were chatting about popular meals they serve for dinner.  Most of the foods they were mentioning were things my kids never eat, because admittedly, I’m pretty picky about what we have.  Most of our meals don’t come from a box or fast food drive through, and I try to serve healthy foods as much as possible (leaving room for special treats now and then.)  I stayed quiet through the conversation, because I didn’t want to come off as judging other parents.  Every parent has their own things they focus on, and one of mine happens to be the quality of our food.  When I came to pick my daughter up from a playdate a few days after this, her friend’s mom asked “What does she eat for lunch?” She named a few foods she asked if my daughter would like to eat, and my daughter had never had them before.   Yes, hotdogs are on that list.    
After these two experiences (as well as a few others involving the toys my children have compared to other kids), I felt the need to apologize to them.  “I’m sorry that I’m different than other parents.  I’m sorry I focus a lot on what you eat, and don’t just buy you everything you want the second you ask for it.”  When my husband heard me doing this, he pulled me aside.  “Why would you apologize for doing things for our kids that you feel are going to make them better, healthier people?  Don’t be sorry for that.”  The more I thought about it, the more I knew he was right.  My kids eat plenty of treats, just not all-day, every day.  My kids get new toys and we do lots of fun things together, even if I’m not buying the latest, most expensive gadgets on the market.  I do these things because I think they are right for my family, which is why everyone makes the choices they do.  I just need to get more comfortable in my own skin and not be so self-conscious about it.
The path towards a healthier lifestyle isn’t always the popular choice.  Sometimes you have to turn down seconds at the dinner table, or decide against the rich dessert that everyone else is devouring.  Have you ever felt the need to apologize for that, as if you’re doing something wrong?  Do you apologize to family or friends for making time to work out instead of things others might like you to do?  I think there’s a difference between being selfish, and just saying you’re sorry for making different choices.  In the end, we all have one life to live.  The way you make yours great isn’t going to be the same as everyone else, but that’s okay.  That’s what makes each of us unique.
What do you think?  

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I was recently at a Bible study where someone apologized over and over again for having lost so much weight and not being able to gain any back. She was as uncomfortable for being so thin as many of us are for being as I like to say “people of size”. Being taught to eat healthy at a young age will continue through life and is absolutely nothing to apologize for. We that are struggling now probably wish we had been taught to eat healthy at a young age. Report
Thanks for sharing Report
great posting and you should not feel about ever doing what you think is right for YOUR children Report
Thanks for sharing that information. You are so correct in what you said. Differences are what makes the world go around. It's also an opportunity for learning. If it wasn't for differences would life be totally boring? :) Report
^^^^^^McFitz2. Report
Thanks for this blog and for all the comments, too. Very supportive! It is time to stop apologizing for things that are GOOD. I like the comment, "If you did not cause harm, no need to apologize." I will remember that one! I might put it up on my wall! Spark is a great positive, motivating site. Glad to be part of it adn glad you are, too! Let's get our head on straight. Why should you apologize if you did not cause harm? And for that matter...if you did cause harm, (I am older so I have regrets) apologizing once and doing it different next time is enough. I am a chronic apologizer. I am going to start a new habit. Every time I start to say, "I'm sorry," I am going to say instead, "Good! I am glad!" haha. But seriously, you have to be able to go on even if you have done something wrong. Otherwise, how will you have the chance to do it right? I had to learn that recently, and I am 62 and a grandma. I do have a right to be here. I DON'T have to apologize for that. Life is a learning experience. That's not my fault. It was that way when I got here! And to care, to be honest, to try to be a good person, is enough. I can like myself today and get up and do the best I can...and it may be different than I did ten years ago or yesterday...but if God has given me life, I have a right to live it. And when I constantly apologize, I am saying the opposite. When I was a child, I did not apologize for being here. I learned everyday, made mistakes, and found out how the world is organized. Then I applied that knowledge. I am not responsible for the universe. I am just here. And I am really sick of apologizing for that. Nobody wants to hear it, anyway. Here in spark, i am reclaiming my life. Thanks for this post to help that. Report
Great article, I am a grandmother and I was I had been more concerned about what my family at years ago. Now I want to make sure that I good healthy food and want those that eat with us realize that none of us ever need to apologize for wanting to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. Eating healthy is a lifestyle and therefore does not need to offer an apology to anyone for doing what is right. Report
Great post , I am now grandma but for years I spent apologizing for being different from the other mothers as I was a single Mom with a career and did not fit in to the IN crowd. Then I realized that I was too busy trying to be perfect in the eyes of other individuals and all that did was stress me out . I have swam up stream all my life and you know what I am a real good swimmer and proud of it ! stand your ground and continue making the right decisions for your family - you are and will be praised for your decision in the long run - great blog ! Report
Great post! I am not a mom, but I think this translates to anyone's lives. I have the tendency to apologize for being me or having so called "weird choices" and it's something I am working on stopping. I get it a lot w/ health and fitness from friends or family...because I don't do Crossfit nor do I like to do insanity workouts...some act as if I don't work hard. Au contraire. I strength train and I enjoy other forms of exercise like walking, biking, spin class. What's wrong w/ that? I also don't lose weight as quickly as some other people and I apologize for that...and I stress over "boy they must think I eat badly or don't work out hard enough." Why do I need to apologize for any of that? I am doing the right things and I'm toning up and losing weight...maybe not losing quick enough for Joe or Jane Schmo but who cares! One of the reasons life is such a great thing is that we're all different and unique in our own way. How boring if we were all the same. One should not feel guilty because they don't go w/ what everyone else does or says. Report
this is a great post. you are very insightful. this happened to me when my daughter started attending school, too. some of her friends made fun of me for having apples as a snack on playdates! now that my daughter is 10 and eats healthily i am very grateful for the choices. Report
Thanks for sharing. This wasn't an easy blog to write. We do need to find contentment in our skin. A genuine respect for differences is needed, but we shouldn't feel like we need to apologize to others for the personal convictions we have. Report
My daughter developed bad eating habits for which I feel guilty. I allowed her to develop these habits, although I understand why. Since being a baby, my daughter would go DAYS without eating so when we found something that she would eat, unless it was really bad like candy, we would latch onto it.

First were the comments that she was underweight. Then, I was having to explain myself to people who were quick to judge me as a bad parent because my daughter had a hot dog and a bag of potato chips. I then started explaining in anticipation of the comments that I figured were soon to come.

At this point, my daughter still happily misses meals and what we prepare for her has managed to keep our pets well-fed. I give her rice, beans, corn, carrots, fruit, home-baked potato chips, nuts and whole grain Tostitos. She occasionally eats things like hot dogs, but less often. I am still scorned for allowing my daughter to remain so thin, but there is no making people happy. The doctor says that she is healthy and I am going to try to keep it that way.

I still feel pressure, but this was a five-star blog. Report
I myself eat real food nothing premade or changed into something Me my choice you your choice Report
Very good article!!! And I love reading all the comments from others!
We grew up with a mother who was almost vegetarian and a dad who loved his meat as well as everything else, especially the unusual foods. Stone ground wheat bread was a staple in our house and an occasional treat of ice cream was one quart sliced into 6 servings, one for each of us.
And how I remember the winter evening treats of homemade grape juice with a little ginger ale to make it fizz!!!
I am glad there was no such thing as fast food in our era!!! Report
I have been like this for my children For school lunches their friends wanted to trade what they had as they didn't get homemade healthy choices. Keep it up Report
You are doing a wonderful job! Keep it up. Report
Thank you! I unfortunately caved into the peer pressure that my family was constantly (and husband occasionally) giving me about not allowing my daughter (who was 2 at the time) candy and junk food like potato chips. They pulled out the "well, she's going to have them eventually; you can't keep them from her forever." Good for you and for everyone out there for sticking to your guns!!!! I wish I'd had more gumption. I wonder if I can undo some of the damage. Have a good day! Report
I, too, have wanted to apologize to my daughter for being less than other parents. This blog was excellent! Thank you!

Best wishes!

Denise Report
I grew up in a family that was very different. My parents were vegetarian for a long time and they were really strict with the amount of sugar found in things. My school lunches consisted of homemade sandwiches (PBJ, tuna, chicken, avacado, etc.), carrot and celery sticks, and juice (100% please). My parents carried tofu burgers to picnics. We didn't have hot dogs for lunch, pizza. Fast food was something that we ate when dad was out of town. It was hard growing up in Richmond, CA in the 70's because no black people ate like that. But at the same time, it makes it easier for me to make the healthy decisions I need to make for myself. Yes, I love bacon and dream of it sometimes. But I still eat it occasionally. I do drink the occasional soda, candy bar (something we never ate growing up) or ice cream (something we rarely ate). I know that I'm a strange bird when it comes to a lot of things, but I also have a lot of people who say they admire what I have done for myself as far as myself. Then they go on to tell me how they just can't do it. It's "simpler" in some ways because I didn't grow up in a fast food, hot dog, fried chicken loving culture. I grew up in a family with meatless meals, where we ate millet or oatmeal for breakfast, made our own sandwiches for lunch, consumed tofu scrambles with vegetables for breakfast, and didn't consume tons of soda. Being different is good. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Report
Agree 100% with the idea behind this sentence: "I think there’s a difference between being selfish, and just saying you’re sorry for making different choices." For whatever reason, when my choices differ from the choices other people make, I have a tendency to think I'm selfish. I've also been accused of being selfish when the choices I make about my life and health are different from those I'm around. I wonder why we think it's selfish to follow-through on our commitment to self-care and the care of our families. Report
Good for you. Just remember that the time and commitment you choose to make is right for your family. Other women are making time and commitments to how their families are run and have put just as much time and effort into their choices. We don't have to agree, but our place is not to judge their choices and not their place to judge ours. Report
Jen, My children are grown, my oldest 30 and the youngest 23 with my son in the middle. I have apologized to my children, because their father wasn't always there and didn't support us, therefore they had what they needed but not always what they wanted. I felt horrible when I couldn't afford to by my son new sneakers every two months like my students (most of whom collect SSI cause of mental health disabilities) (whose behavior was horrible - the kind of ppl who expected the handouts they were getting) My children grew up in a mobile home, which I still feel bad about. But one day my daughter said because we didn't have much as they grew up, they came to realize that they appreciate things much more than some of their friends. I'm sorry I didn't realize then what I do now about healthier foods/meals. But I am sharing, modeling for them now. My kids know how very much I love them and THATS what's important! Report
Loved it I grew up poor. We had to cook everything i am old enough to know when Grain came in sacks and butter was cut up at the store. NEVER apologise if you know you are a good person, an honest person just stand up for who you are. Just say thank you very often. Pat in Maine. Report
good article. I like being different. and i eally don't
tend to try not apologize for my decisions. I don't have kids yet. But i know someday i will and i am going to teach them what a healthy lifestyle is. Report
Very interested blog. You don't have to apologise to anyone for the healthy way you are feeding you kids, You are doing what is best for them and you don't have to care about other people's feelings. Your husband is right you don't have to apologise to your kids either. You are on the right tract keep it up. Report
Years ago my sons attended a pre-school that allowed them to bring a mid morning snack, but forbade cookies, chips, etc. That was fine for us... and Jeff and I worked hard to make his snacks interesting.. we did fruit and vegetables, but even as a four year old he was inventive..s o we did kebobs with mushrooms and cheese, little tarts with veggies, empanadas filled with fruit... when we had our first parent conference (I was new at parenting!) the teacher's first comment was "Jeff has the most interesting snacks...." Luckily she did not dwell on the fact that he had tipped over the Mayflower in the Thanksgiving pageant!.. or that he was a pain in the neck because he was already reading very fluently and couldn't understand that other kids weren't. The upshot is that now, at age 35, Jeff is a superb cook, a healthy eater, and eager to teach his daughter about the good foods out there! Report
We raised our kids in the country 60 miles for the nearest town. They had no idea what mcdonalds was until they went on a jr. high field trip . We watched what they ate and what they watched on tv as well as what they played with. They never had a PC until they were in high school nor did they have a cell phone till they were grown and could pay for it themselves.
With that said WTG for how great you are doing in todays times. WTG for showing them they are worth more to you that a fancy toy or fast food. You care enough to be involved in their lives (every aspect) . They will tell you when they have kids as mine did me , You gave us the best example of how to be a hands on parent. They will remember everything you haave taught them and pass it on to their children. WTG to your husband for seeing the great mother you are. Report
my mom raised me and my sister as a single mom til she met and married my dad. i never had the fancy toys or fast food crap til i was much older when my mom didnt have to work two jobs to feed us. i didnt get new clothes or shoes til i was 12. i always had hand-me-down stuff. even now im not all about needing the newest and latest thing on the market. i dont replace things until they are unusable. i was taught that if you have a roof over your head food in the fridge and clothes on your back then your doing just fine. and i know when i have my kids thats what im going to teach them. they are going to know how to enjoy life by just walking around a park and seeing the beauty of the world. my boyfriend was raised on the other hand with plenty of money. his parents took him to mexico every year hawaii twice and they would go for a week a year to the east coast to visit family. hes always had anything he ever wanted. now with us living together he is upset every day because we live in a small apartment and dont own a house. when i see our bank account at the end of the week and we have 5 dollars left over after bills and food i celebrate thinking we are doing great. he gets angry thinking were just a step away from being homeless. we go to the park and walk around and i see the beauty of the leaves changing and the ground squirrels foraging and playing and all he sees is the grass needs to be mowed and the fence needs to be fixed.
i dont apologize to him for how i think. he eats healthy because i know how to cook and i am a great cook. he never has to worry about paying bills because i pay them. i take care of everything all he has to do is bring in the paycheck. so in my mind i think that his life is only the way it is now because of how i was raised. left to himself he would be homeless in a month. Report
I agree 100%! Why should I feel bad that my daughter has NEVER had a Happy Meal? From the looks of some of the kids (and parents too) at her school, they need to stay away from all that fast "food" too! Report
I was a chronic apologizer, that was until I read a quote that really hit me to the core. So, on the first of this month I made it a personal goal to not be so enthralled with explaining or apologizing about my choices. The quote I am living by this month is " How others judge me is none of my business." I believe it was LL Cool J that originally said this but dont hold me to that. But keeping this new mind set has been easier than I expected, sure I get a cocked head or raised eyebrow when I choose not to eat the potato planks covered in cheese or opt to walk the stairs in the local hospital or mall, but it has also provoked people in my life to think about not being so quick to judge or suspect my choices. Feeding the kids in my life (I do not have children) steamed veggies instead of fries is no longer a topic of alarm with the parents. It is what it is I suppose Report
This blog really struck a chord with me although I chose not to have children. I apologize for everything it seems. I have been working on apologizing less though. I also own my mistakes much more than I own my successes. A lot has to do with the way I was raised, although once I left home my choices diverged greatly from what my parents taught/ate I do have the basics down.

Now I just have to remember that my choices are just that... mine. I have always been "different" in many ways. Now I just have to learn to celebrate it. Report
I was always trying to please others before myself, always caring what others thought, we are all individuals. Your husband is right you have nothing to apologize for, you are doing great! Report
I couldn't agree more with all of this. I am not quite so picky about what my kids eat (not that I let them go nuts with it & I do pack their lunches instead of letting them eat school food). My issue comes with the fact that my fiance has a totally different mentality with raising children. I don't ever apologize to him for standing my ground, so I'm learning not to do that with others.

I'm a very unconventional parent. I challenged my son's teacher (to my fiance's terror) because she punished him for turning his head while walking in line down the hall. I choose to fight the bigger battles (like correcting him when he bullies others, or focusing on my daughter's grades). No kid is perfect and you should never be judged for your parenting style. Many people think I'm way too lenient, but my kids are great problem solvers & don't have me hovering over them every second. They're independent and strong...I couldn't be more proud of them. That's my way of doing it for my kids. How other parents choose to do it is completely up to them & I respect that. Every child and family is different, which is why I love this blog! Embrace it!! :) Thank you for posting! Report
Thanks for sharing! I have been going through the same thing recently with my family. My oldest just started public pre-school and the food and toy choices we allow are very different than most other children in his class. I am reminding myself not to feel bad for the choices I feel are right! Nice to hear some one else feel similar! Report
There is nothing that says what is the "norm" in society is always the right choice. I think if you look at what is considered "the norm" in a lot of things ( TV, very young kids with cell phones, "reality" shows, kids in charge at home instead of parents, etc) you can congratulate yourself that you are the parent and you are making healthy choices for you kids. What other parents may do and what society does is not necessarily the best thing. Report
When people say something to me about my lifestile I just say I march to a different drummer. I do not and will not say I am sorry for being who I am and practicing what I believe Report
I have a similar experience. I've always given my daughter very healthy food -all organic, NO SUGAR until she was 6. Many people balk at how I feed her, but she is healthy and strong and loves nutritious food! Report
It's amazing that we've come to the point where we feel we need to apologize to our children for providing them healthy food and showing good financial habits. Your husband is correct. You've done no harm so there is no need to apologize. Report
I had these same feelings when I was raising my daughter. I chaperoned a small band trip when she was in middle school and was appalled when the other chaperone (a dad) allowed the students to buy air pellet guns and have a shooting match up and down the hotel hall! My daughter was appalled when I took her gun away from her and made her go to our room (about 5 minutes ahead of hotel security arriving). She cried and told me I had made everyone hate her, destroyed her life, yada, yada, yada... The next year she came home from school all upset because it was time for the group trip again and the other kids wanted to know why I wasn't the chaperone. They said I was their favorite chaperone of all time because even though I was strict, I was more fun!

So, hang in there and don't apologize or give in to your new "peer pressure". You are doing what you know is best for your family and it is the love you are demonstrating that will impress your children (and probably the other children too) in the long run. Report
As a parent you make the best decisions that you can at the current moment in time regarding your child. As you have already experienced the older your children get, the more complicated the decision making becomes. Your husband was right in saying you don't need to apologize. However, I do have two suggestions for what they are worth. Don't panic if you children end up having something you don't serve at home or play with at home (in my mind that's an opportunity to talk about what and why you do what you do at home) and second, sometimes children have their own path to walk which is different than our own - sometimes you look at one of your children and wonder where did they come from - always always always love your children even if their path is different from yours. Report
You are very right! It may sometimes feel like when you are not doing what the "norm" is, you are in the wrong side. I hope when I have my kids in the future, I can feed them healthy food choices! That is how we can prevent the childhood growing obesity rate. I think, however, it would be nice, if one parent ask, that you explain the reasons. May be it will inspire them too. Who does not want their kids to eat more veggies or not to be so demanding about new gadgets? Report
You sound like me quite a few years ago when my children were young...I often felt like the strange mom and although I don't remember apologizing...I do remember staying quiet when others talked about stuff we just didn't eat or do at our house. Now that my children are grown and married with children of their own I see them being just a bit different from other parents and I'm grateful I didn't cave on things when it was important. Stay really does pay dividends for the well as the present. Thanks for sharing your journey... Report
No apologies necessary! I do not have kids but I have nephews who look up to me and whenever I can I inform them about better food choices to have happier healthier smarter bodies...and i can say I love when i see them choose veggies or fruits over cupcakes or cookies! Be proud that you are showing them to differ from the norm...normal is only a setting on a dryer..everything else is choice =) Report
I have never apologized for my choices, nor made a big deal about them. I co-opped, recycled, gardened, and made gifts long before it was "fashionable. My daughter is a new mom (well, he's almost 2 now) but she recently said "I have recently realized how "green" your home was when I was little. I just thought you were being cheap, but now I find myself making the same choices. Thank you for teaching me to be thrifty and healthy." Report
I am finally feeling bold enough about our decisions as a family. We choose to homeschool our children, choose to make much of our meals from scratch, I rarely buy brand new clothes for my children (I'm blessed to have family that can give us hand me downs), and my kids certainly do not have all the new toys. I'm thankful for all of isn't always easy but it makes us all happier. Thanks for reminding me that being different is ok!
I just wanted to say I find it frustrating when there is no clear link to the comments section (like there normally is) at the end of the blogs. If I had not clicked on the title I would never have gotten here. Report
Believe me when I say being unique is a good thing. Teaching our children to be open to new experiences is good. However, teaching our children to value family values, their own health and sharing experiences is great! Do not apologize for the uniqueness of your family....celebrate it and share it with others. It is the best way to be happy in a diverse world! Report
The fact that we feel we have to apologize for healthy choices just shows how abnormal healthy living is. That is pretty sad. I have apologized for turning down invitations to go drinking with friends because I needed to get my long run in. Report
I do think outside the box and as my therapist said "What is wrong with coloring outside the lines?" I do not say I am sorry for that. Yes I am the only one in my cirlce of friends who eats a clean diet. So what.........? I am who I am. And God loves me just the same. Never say that you are sorry for what you do or how you live..........that's between you and God. Report