We all take pride in our parenting. As we should! Parenting is hard, plain and simple, and just when we think we’ve got it down, our children go and change things up. I like to believe that my son is making me a better person. Teaching me every day to never get too over-confident. My gentle parenting “strategy” allows me to be open to re-evaluation at any time. So how could I possibly ever judge anyone who chooses to do things differently than I would? My parenting choices do not, and should never, have anything to do with anyone else. People will make their own choices, for a variety of different reasons. I choose to personally agree, or disagree with those choices. Often that choice is either based in scientific fact or sometimes from an emotional perspective. That is not synonymous with judgement. I could never expect to understand the context of a situation in which I have no understanding of. For example, that child you saw breaking down in the grocery store into an outright rage-athon, and the seemingly apathetic mom. Or, the pregnant woman you saw smoking a cigarette, maybe she is working hard to quit and has made every effort in the world. Maybe she knows all of the risks and has sought out help. Maybe you caught her in her one moment of weakness, and maybe she feels just as bad about her decision as you do.
I try to make it a point to not get defensive when someone disagrees with how or why I do things the way I do. Honestly, I previously made it a point to not even share things that I perceived as “different” from the “norm”. As time goes on and I become more and more comfortable with this whole “parenting thing”, I have learned to be more confident in my choices as a mother. I feel very strongly that all mothers should make the choices that are right for their families at that moment in time. As long as those choices are safe. However, there is a very clear distinction between people who disagree with you, and people who are just flat out rude, angry and even bitter.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with disagreeing with my choices. My choice to avoid excessive screen time, does not mean that there is something wrong with the choices you make. My choice is based on my opinion, which is based on facts, that screen time should be avoided for children under 2, if at all possible. Sometimes it just isn’t possible. Sometimes you have to do the dishes, or make a sandwich. For goodness sake, it makes him happy to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse! I totally agree that the occasional bit of TV is not going to hurt him, but I strive to limit it. The same goes for chocolate cake. Chocolate cake is delicious, but we probably shouldn’t eat it. I try to avoid chocolate cake in excess, but what is the point of life if we can’t enjoy a big slice of chocolate cake from time to time? Some people like it more often than others, and I see no problem with that. However, the fact is if you eat too much, it is bad for your health. This is just one example of the types of choices that parents make, choices in which have nothing to do with other families. I respect your choices, and I ask that others give me that same respect.
The fact is, it is difficult for many people to see two sides of a story. Especially when everyone writes their own story from a different perspective. Nursing mothers and formula feeding mothers are at each others throats. As if formula feeding mothers are purposely poisoning their children and breastfeeding mothers are self-righteous, incestuous hippies. As a breastfeeding mother, I can only speak from one perspective. I choose to continue to breastfeed my son because I can and because I enjoy it. I choose to continue because it is a scientific fact that extended breastfeeding has numerous benefits. I can’t tell you how many times a mother who feeds her child formula has felt the need to defend themselves to me the moment they find out that I still breastfeed my 6-month-old son. I can’t for a second fathom the reason why, other than they feel guilty about it. Which they absolutely should not. There are a number of different reasons in which a mother would choose formula over breast milk. None of which I am going to get into because there is no need to. There is no need to defend your choices as a mother. Breastfeeding is not easy, and sometimes it is not possible. There is never a reason that a mother who uses formula should defend herself, ever. However, that will not stop me from talking about the benefits of breastfeeding. Maybe it is my background in public health, or maybe it is my personal experience, but I feel the need to promote the importance of breastfeeding to everyone willing to listen. There are moms faced with the choice every day between formula or breast milk. The fact is, when you have the choice, breast milk will always be the best choice. That is not a judgement, that is scientific fact. Somewhere in the world a formula feeding mother just got really upset. I’m sorry for that.
“You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?”It hurts to be judged, just as much as it hurts when someone disagrees with something we feel so passionately about. The fact is, being a parent is hard. I think every mother questions herself every single day. As if we are not hard enough on ourselves, we need the judgement of other people staring us in the eye. Especially in the current media centered world we live in, avoiding the opinions of others is next to impossible. Everywhere you look someone is commenting on how we “should” be doing things on Facebook, or Twitter, or there is always the ever obnoxious Gwyneth who says her job is harder than working that easy breezy 9-5 and equates mean internet comments to going to war. The fine line between judgement and information sharing has a very blurry line. Moms deserve the benefit of the doubt because the fact is we (most of us) are all just trying to do our best to raise happy, healthy, contributing members of society. I personally see no problem in sharing our success (and failures) with other like-minded parents. Those who disagree with us can just keep on keepin’ on, ignoring our advice. The “Mommy War” has it’s place. We all have experiences to share, and room to grow, but there is a difference between educating and judgement. Science is always advancing and new information is coming out which can improve on our parenting “skills”. We shouldn’t stop asking questions or sharing our experience. We shouldn’t stop scientific research that helps us to keep our children healthy. The idea that back is best is fairly new, but has saved thousands of baby lives. If mothers didn’t feel comfortable sharing their experiences we may not have the insight we have today on safe sleeping. We all have reasons for the choices we make as parents, but we shouldn’t judge other parents for the choices they make, because we do not know why they make them. That fact should not stop us from sharing our experiences, opinions, and our knowledge. I love the community of mom bloggers out there, all with different views and varying levels of experience and knowledge. Silencing them, in the name of “assuagement”, would be a grave mistake.
Everything aside, sometimes we just need a little perspective.