I’m waving the white flag. I’m so over the wars surrounding the various choices available to parents. Whether you’re an attachment parent, a cry it out proponent, against vaccinations, or a natural childbirth advocate, it’s time to put down your sword.
Of course we all have opinions. Before that stick even read “pregnant” I had a preconceived idea of what type of parent I would be. Like many child-less couples, my husband and I liked to judge parents we saw out in public, saying we would never let our child do that! Our kids will be different!
I was such a great parent until I actually became one…
Now that I have a real, live baby, all of those preconceived parenting ideas are somewhere in the bottom of my closet with those jeans I now can’t pull up farther than my mid-thigh.
I swore I would be fine letting my baby cry it out so that I could sleep train her. Now, I can’t let her cry for more than about 5 seconds without flipping my shit. I just knew I would never co-sleep with my baby. Now, we co-sleep for her first nap every morning and I love every second of it.
If I’ve learned anything about parenting, it’s that every mother is dynamically different, and with good reason. The choices that are best for working mothers may not be the same for stay-at-home moms, or even single mothers. To further complicate matters, each baby is completely unique. What’s good for my little goose is probably not good for your little gander or your gander family.
So why do people criticize the parenting choices made by their peers? Why do we feel we need to defend any choice to anyone, whether they are family, a friend, or a stranger on a message board? Don’t we have enough to worry about already?
Why not embrace and learn from each other, instead of pointing critical fingers?
I used to make fun of attachment parenting. I mean come on, the image of the little kid breastfeeding on a stool on the cover of Time? But now, when I feel the deep pang in my heart as I rock my daughter to sleep, I understand wanting to sleep with her. I understand never wanting to put her down. I understand the belief in creating an attachment.
But when I read attachment parents using phrases like “crib jail,” I cringe. When I read lactivists talking about “the dangers of artificial feeding” or anyone saying that cry-it-out is tantamount to child abuse – I want to throw my computer out the window. People, why do you care what other parents are doing? What do you get out of judging another mom?
I do not believe there is one right way to do anything related to parenting. I think most expert advice is hogwash. Baby advice conflicts so often that I wonder if anyone actually knows jack about babies.
It feels like we are all just fumbling around in a dark room hoping that we can make something work. And yet instead of supporting each other, we are drawing polarizing lines.
Here is my soapbox rant. As mothers, now is the time for compassion for each other. Parenting is tough stuff. If we are ever going to reduce the incidence of postpartum depression, we need to realize that happiness and self-confidence as a parent will not come from criticizing the choices of others.
I understand having a desire to disseminate information about something you feel passionate about. But there is a vast difference in disseminating information and judging those who choose a different path. Stop hurting each other. Please.
You have not walked a mile in another woman’s nursing bra, so don’t tell her what she should be doing with her breasts. You have not been struggling with another family’s sleep-adverse child, so you have no right to tell them how they should sleep-train.
It’s time that we start to see each other as human beings who are suffering and struggling to do the best we can for our families amidst a tidal wave of “shoulds” and “should nots”.
It takes a village…let’s create one together.
“I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of inner peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion and elimination of ignorance, selfishness and greed.” – Dalai Lama XIV—
How have you dealt with the endless number of parenting styles and unwanted input from others?