- Family and Parenting
Can We End the "Mommy Wars"?
To answer this question first we must identify what this term means to you. To some it means a mother or group of mothers that are cruelly judging another mother based on one or more parenting choices she has made that differ from theirs. As long as each parent is adequately caring for their child to the best of their ability there is no need for rude or harsh comments and that kind of attack needs to end. However, it has come to the point where simply sharing facts that support one parenting choice over another is seen as an attack on those who chose differently. This is nonsense.
As parents we are all expected to behave as mature adults and set a good example for our children. Part of being an adult is accepting the consequences of our actions. Even if that means we have to face the fact that we may have made a bad judgement call when making important choices about our kids, we must still face this reality with as much class as we can muster.
No one is perfect and parenting isn’t easy. We can only do our best with the information and support system we are given. We look to our older family members or to doctors and simply trust that they know what is right. But the old way isn’t always the best way. I’m sure their children turned out just fine and I’m sure yours will as well. The good news is children are quite resilient and can still become intelligent, successful adults after enduring many parenting mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over one or two choices that didn’t turn out to be “the best”. As long as your children grew up or are growing up knowing they are loved and safe you are doing a pretty good job already.
Sometimes we make uninformed choices but to become offended and begin attacking others when we are faced with our mistakes is to behave like a child. Unfortunately those that have made the so-called “correct” choices can also behave this way by feeling superior and believing it is their job to make others feel horrible for not being as “great” as they are. It is one thing to inform others by sharing an informative article or defending your choices after being questioned about them but it is quite another to call someone a horrible parent because they chose to give their baby formula rather than breastfeed, for example. Sure, everyone knows breast milk is better for an infant for countless reasons but there may be valid reasons why a mother would choose to give their child formula or they may have been pressured into it by doctors or pushy relatives (this happens all too frequently).
Many parenting styles or choices are still up for debate and there is no clear right or wrong. Even when it seems like we have figured out the correct path, new findings may prove otherwise. So even if we feel like a parent's reasons are not valid enough we must remind ourselves it is not our job to tell them how to parent. Besides, you may find out years down the road that they were right and you were wrong! As long as the child is not being abused, stay out of it and mind your own business. And that goes for relatives too! Parents have the right to raise their children however they feel is best.
That being said, it is also not our job to worry about hurting someone's feelings all the time. If someone shares a study on social media showing co-sleeping may be better than crib training for example, and the study is convincing enough for you to wonder if you had done the right thing by choosing "cry-it-out" it is okay to feel unhappy and disappointed in the sources you depended on when you made your decision. What is not appropriate is to feel anger at the person who made this information available to you simply because it made you face unpleasant emotions. Now if they tagged you specifically and said you were a bad parent, that is one thing and you should absolutely be angry. But if not, simply be grateful you learned something and perhaps you will reconsider the next time you have a child. Don't assume that you were on their mind when they decided to share what they learned.
Certain options have been proven to be better than others. New research is being done all the time that helps us learn how to be better parents. Why not take advantage of this new information rather than feel offended? We are all under pressure to be the best we can be for our children. They mean the world to us and the thought of failing them in any small way can be hard to handle. But none of us can do everything perfectly. All we can do is what is best for ourselves as individuals with the information we have at the time. That doesn’t mean every option is “the best”, however, and we need to be able to handle any feelings we may have as a result of our choices.
So to answer the question: "Can we end the mommy wars?" If any sharing of information that shows one parenting choice may be better than another is considered part of the "Mommy Wars" than I hope they never end. It is our duty as parents to be as educated as we can be so that we can make good decisions for our family even if that means finding out we made some wrong turns along the way. But we CAN stop feeling the need to judge others and pressuring them to do what we think is best instead of allowing them to make their own choices. We can also stop taking everything so personally, handle our emotions and set a good example for our children.
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