We’ve all done it. Admit it. We’ve seen a mom parenting her child in some way (disciplining, feeding, whatever) and have made a snap judgement about her. A quick, “I’d never parent like THAT.” or “WHAT is she THINKING!” or “She mustn’t discipline at all if her child is behaving like THAT in public.” or “I bet she didn’t even TRY to breastfeed.”
Now just think of all the snap judgements that have been made (or COULD BE made) about you. In what ways would various members of the public not agree with your parenting? Do you cloth diaper or use disposables? Do you breastfeed, formula feed, feed breastmilk from a bottle, or combo feed? Do you follow gentle discipline techniques or do you use some form of spanking? Do you allow processed foods to cross your child’s lips or do you only feed completely organic and locally grown foods?
There are so many mommy “camps” out there. Just peruse forums like Babycenter and you will see signatures laced with acronyms defining users by their parenting choices. Cloth diapering, formula feeding, extended rear facing, bronze boobies, elimination communication, attachment parenting, cry-it-out, or baby lead weaning. The list goes on.
We are all unique individuals living unique lives raising unique children. No singular parenting method will work for any two people. There is no flowchart to show what your next step should be to raise perfect children.
While it can be helpful to identify with certain parenting philosophies, especially when seeking advice or ideas, those same divisions can cause conflict and hurt.
Every parent wants to do what is best for THEIR child. Every parent believes that they are trying their best to raise great kids. Nobody likes to feel like they are wrong. Often, when we align ourselves strongly with one “Mommy Camp” or another, those in the opposing “Camp” may see it as an attack. Because you are raising your child differently, you are implying that they aren’t raising THEIR child correctly.
And so begin the Mommy Wars. Sides are taken. Battle lines drawn. Feelings are hurt. Confidence wanes. Mommies are isolated.
Nobody wins. Sure, some moms will continue to feel superior for their choices. But really, do they KNOW why another mom has chosen what she has chosen? Does she know that the reason one mom isn’t breastfeeding is because she was sexually molested as a teen and can’t get past that experience? Does she know that the mom who sends her child to daycare has a broken heart daily but does it out of necessity to keep food on the table and a health insurance card in her wallet?
We haven’t walked in every mother’s shoes. We don’t know what works best for everyone. All we know is what works best for us. Sure, we will learn along the way. We will pick up tips from other moms that work for us. We will dismiss the ones that don’t. We will even learn what would NEVER work for our family.
Let’s do our part to end the Mommy Wars. Let’s check ourselves when we have that gut-level reaction. Sure, we won’t agree with everyone. Give a mom the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she’s had a day from you-know-where.
New International Version (NIV)
38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[a] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Let’s build each other up. This mommy thing is hard enough without all the cattiness. Have compassion. Lend a hand. Be a listening ear. Motherhood isn’t a competition, it’s a journey.
How much more enjoyable will our parenting journeys be without the battles?