In my last post, I wrote that because I have spent the majority of my life surrounded by kids, raising my own (thus far) has come with very little surprises. This is true with respect to their development, crying, expressions of autonomy, and so forth. What I had next-to-no-clue about was the extent we judge one another on parenting. In today’s day and age, we are inundated with it. Somewhere along the way, it became commonplace to cast judgement on others’ parenting when it wasn’t congruent with our own. Now, in the age of social media, articles, posts, and comments on parenting pages have seemingly ramped up our propensity to judge and be judged. In the face of this, last year, a campaign to end the Mommy Wars emerged and aptly went viral (check it out here). The photos perfectly capture dissonant views in a harmonious and beautiful way. Moreover, the message is invaluable; the path to rearing healthy, rounded children is as varied as the children and parents involved.
Because parenting is so dynamic, so all encompassing, it is easy enough to second-guess our decisions. Or, because of the above mentioned influences weighing in, it can be easy to adopt a parenting practice that just doesn’t suit us, our little ones, or our family’s circumstance. For instance, a mom close to me started off breastfeeding. Due to a health condition, losing sleep was greatly detrimental to her. Her husband took on the night-feeds, but eventually they decided formula feeding would allow her the energy to mother her baby to the best of her ability.
I will come clean and admit that I’ve been on both sides of the equation. In the first few months after having my daughter, I would feel actual concern when I hear of someone electing to solely formula feed. Scientific research has demonstrated significant correlations between breastfeeding and health. And so, I couldn’t understand a mother’s motivation not to. I had my “aha” moment when a family friend, who was also a retired doctor, shared how upsetting it was when patients who couldn’t breastfeed would recount to him situations they were basically told, “breast is best.” Additionally, the story from the mom previously mentioned helped me remember how unique each person’s circumstance is.
When I have been on the receiving end of assertions about parenting, the majority have come disguised as questions including, but not limited to: “You’re done having kids, right?”, “She isn’t still breastfeeding is she?”, “My friend lost all her baby weight. Have you tried this (insert exercise routine, diet plan, health advice)?”, “You’re not going to buy a crib, are you? Why would you want to use one?”.
These passive-aggressive statements hidden in questions were not prompted, and as such, have left me feeling a bit blindsided by disapproval. There are days, I really feel like I’m in the trenches, and take immense pride in what I do for my kids. Unsolicited opinions and advice can leave me feeling confused and hurt.
Certain influences may weigh in touting their own years of child rearing as the reason, their advice should trump your reasoning (check out this great article on the same general idea when applied to marriage). Most of the time, the person who has the absolute best sense of how to teach, discipline, guide, and care for a child is the parent. Being on the front lines each and every day, we have the experience of trial and error to know what works and what doesn’t. We have seen our children through all of their developmental milestones, difficulties, sicknesses, accomplishments, and bad behaviour. Furthermore, we are equipped with our own intuition, parenting articles, our doctor’s advice, and a community of resources to lean into when needed. Because of all of this, when it comes to your own child, no one is wiser than YOU!
Looking for some good resources on this topic? Here are some great articles on the subject:
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