On every post I read and in every mommy group (online or otherwise) that I’ve been privy to I’ve noticed a disturbing trend: the never-ending Mommy Wars. Posts about feeding to sleeping to diapering all end the same way: this side vs that side in an all out brawl.
I read these new posts or listen to these discussions and the theme is always the same. Moms feel attacked and judged and thus this irrepressible need to defend their choices and children. Breastfeed or co-sleep and you’re a crazy hippie whose child will never self-soothe. Formula feed or CIO and you’re a child abuser who values your own convenience above your babe’s. The insults fly, the back and forth starts and before you know it there is a clear division of crazed mama bears willing to pounce.
Hey, I get it. I don’t react well to criticism either, especially if maybe I’m not yet 100 % sold on a method myself. But isn’t this parenting shit hard enough on its very own without the added pressure of every other mother chiming in on your choices? Aren’t we all in the same boat with the same ultimate destination: secure, healthy and happy kids?
Look, friends. I have some pretty strong beliefs. I wear my babies. I breastfeed. I co-sleep. I have natural births. I cloth diaper. I’ve gone from kind of chewy to all out hippie granola-crunching mom throughout the years. I will defend my choices if asked; I will educate if appropriate. Do you know why? That is how I learned and that is what changed my perspective. I didn’t expect to use half these things when I first found out I was pregnant. “Attachment Parenting”, as coined by Dr. William Sears, is still not mainstream and although it certainly is gaining in popularity, unless you sing kumbaya in a drumming circle on a weekly basis you may just not have access to the information (ok, maybe that was exaggerated. I hate kumbaya). I learned, I asked and I debated. I was willing to listen and willing to explore other methods because the people I learned, asked and debated with were always respectful. They were also diplomatic. They were sharing just to share and didn’t judge me for not knowing or immediately adopting their techniques. They knew that no matter what, I was making the choices I needed to make for my family, for my sanity and for my child’s overall happiness. Had they taken a different, more defensive and judgemental approach, it’s unlikely I would’ve ever been receptive to a style that I now can’t imagine parenting without.
I don’t care if your newborn shits in a disposable diaper, cloth diaper or in the toilet (google Elimination Communication). If strap on your baby like an accessory or use a stroller. Boob or bottle feed. I know that in the end we all just want the same thing for our children and there are many different routes you can take that will arrive at the same destination. What the hell do I care what road you take? If you ask me for travel advice, I’ll happily share by giving suggestions and encouragement – but even if you choose a different journey, I will still support you. I know that if I tell you that my way is the only way, you’ll likely try a different one just to prove me wrong. Hell, the stubborn bitch in me would do the exact same thing.
So the next time you feel an innate need to defend your parenting, or criticize someone else’s, take a step back and ask yourself if being negative and judgemental will actually advance you in your goal. Remind yourself that we are all in this together, learning, and that no one is the expert. That’s right – not even you. Ask yourself how (or if!) you would want the information presented and phrase yourself accordingly. You will catch more flies with honey and when you find yourself on the other side of the debate you’ll appreciate that same courtesy extended back to you. Heck, you may even learn a thing or two.