Yesterday I was catching up on a few blogs. I got to one particular blog and read a post about Mommy Wars and basically how dumb they are (which, duh). I posted a comment in agreement and as I read the other comments, I saw that someone called out the author for actually participating in Mommy Wars on a message board. This comment prompted the author to write another post and various follow-up comments in which she basically stated that yup she does indeed participate in Mommy Wars. But only for this one subject. And by the way, it’s perfectly fine to participate if it’s on-line. Particularly if someone asked for advice. And even more so if there is research out there that states that my way is safer than your way. Oh, and don’t you even dare judge me for formula feeding my baby from day 1. I’m pretty sure my head exploded all over my computer screen.
Mommy Wars are a sad reality in our world. I’m not sure when people started caring if someone else breast or bottle feeds, has an epidural or natural delivery, co-sleeps or crib-sleeps, uses cloth or disposable diapers, works or stays at home. When did how I care for my children become someone else’s business and why is it ok to think of me as a lesser parent because I don’t make the same choices as you?
I’m sure that Mommy Wars have been in existence forever, but I think that they’ve grown like a wild fire as message boards, blogs and other social media outlets have grown. I’m lucky that those in my on-line circle are wonderful, caring, compassionate women and I rarely ever see an instance of Mommy War in my Twitter stream or on my Facebook wall. Maybe I just keep my circle tight so that I don’t see it happen, but I would like to think that my on-line friends rarely openly and publicly judge and criticize another mom’s parenting.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am guilty of judging. A few weeks ago there was talk on Twitter of another mother (who isn’t on Twitter) letting her newborn cry it out. I’m not gonna lie, I commented on how hard it is for me to let my 10 month old cry and I couldn’t imagine letting a newborn cry. Almost as soon as I published the comment, I wanted to smack myself. Here I was taking information 2nd or 3rd hand and judging this poor mother who is trying to survive the newborn phase. I felt awful. Then I remembered when I was judged. And I felt even worse. I remember how angry I was when I was judged. For doing what I thought was best. For doing something that didn’t bring any harm to my child. Here I was doing the same thing.
Mommy wars on the internet are out of control. Someone asks when they should turn their child’s car seat forward facing. They are advised of the law but that the AAP recommends age 2. Comments start flying around and people state that they are following the law and not the AAP recommendation. Next thing you know someone is being accused of being a sub-standard parent. Not following an AAP recommendation doesn’t make you a bad parent. Following an AAP recommendation doesn’t make you a better parent and it certainly doesn’t make you a better person for judging and criticizing someone who parents in a different manner.
The internet makes it so easy to offer your criticism. There is at least some hint of anonymity. You don’t have to look another mother in the face and tell her that she’s wrong. You can just type out a quick comment and tell her she’s doing it wrong. In one minute you can rattle her and make her question her decision making. You can make her doubt herself as a mother, even though she is doing a knock-out job.
So how about instead of criticizing a mom, we start telling them that they are doing a good job? Give them confidence to make the tough decisions. Encourage them when breastfeeding is tough, console them when they are sad that their 3 month old will no longer nurse and their pumping output is next to nothing, give them a virtual hug when they aren’t sure what to do about their child still refusing to poop in the potty, tell them that they are a great mom. Because at the end of the day, all that matter is that kids are happy, healthy and loved. It doesn’t matter to me how they get there. And it shouldn’t matter to you either.
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