Let's discuss for a minute about 'mommy wars'. You know, the incessant need to one up, degrade, or belittle another mother's way of mothering in order to feel superior. You may have heard (or even said) one of the following:
• "Did she nurse? No? Well, she'll have a stupid child!" or "She's being selfish with her child, keeping it all to herself!"
• "She only nursed for (insert short amount of time here) and her kid will always be ill". or "She nursed for (insert longer amount of time here), so gross. Totally for herself and not her kid"
• "Does she co-sleep? That's so dangerous and lazy! or "The baby will be insecure if she doesn't co-sleep"
• "She works? She's letting someone else raise her kids!" or "She doesn't work? Lazy!"
• "She only has one child, that is so unfair to her child!" or "Why does she have so many children?"
• "How dare she not play with her kids at the park! Good mothers focus 100% of their energy on their precious little snowflake and never even blink!" or "Ugh, she isn't letting that child have a single bit of independence!"
• "She goes to the gym, she's so selfish to spend that time on herself and away from her child!" or "She's at an unhealthy weight and an embarrassment to her children."
• "Her kid has a cell phone! They are so spoiled!" or "Her child doesn't even have a phone to call her if they need her!"
• "She's sending her kid to school today. She's unsupportive of the strike!" or "She kept her kid home. She doesn't care about their education or the other people who work at the school." (Literally happening in our town!)
• "Her house is so messy. She's lazy!" or "Her house is too clean, those poor kids aren't allowed to make a mess and be kids!"
This is a lose/lose battle, so refuse to fight it.
Do we all not see how really, really ridiculous this is becoming? More and more websites, blogs, and articles seem to fuel this war, making it seem normal for us to partake in this war. Well, I have had enough of this bullshit (yes it's lead me to cuss. Judge away sanctimonious harpies, I do not care!)
SO, I am going to give some unsolicited parenting advice for all of you (it's supportive and helpful, I swear!):
First of all moms, DO.NOT.EVER feel the need to explain yourselves or your way of parenting to anyone. Do not feel you have to defend yourself by explaining why you do something. Do not bother calling out the "judgies" (vaguely or blatantly) on Facebook, in blogs, message boards, etc. Honestly, it is not worth your time and I will tell you why:
Other mothers, mind your own kids and mind your own biscuits. It is not your place to have an opinion on the way another family works. Furthermore, do not ever inflict this opinion on others, unsolicited. Ask yourself this: Is this a kind thing to say? Does it seem like I am a know-it-all? Would this suggestion insinuate that I am right and they are wrong?
If your answers to these questions are YES, stop what you are doing and re-evaluate your personality. In fact, unless the opinion or advice is solicited and supportive of the other mother, then zip it. Even if this mother you have an opinion on is a sister, cousin, niece, daughter, granddaughter, friend, etc. If the child is not in danger or being abused, then shut your opinion hole (if it is, take action).
You have ZERO right to input your bias and uneducated opinion on someone else, and less of a right to get miffed when they do not follow your advice (by uneducated, I mean, you aren't educated on every family dynamic in the world and don't hold the rights to the perfect child-rearing tactics). Just because something worked for you does not make it set in stone, factual, fail proof, no doubt, a work across the board way of doing things. If another mom wants help, they will ask. I will concede that if they put something out there on social media or bring up an issue to you, then yes, they are opening themselves up to input. At this time, I will say that you can share your experience, but don't be a jerk about it. Be supportive, helpful, and kind about it. Not pushy, judgmental, and exert your superiority. If their lacking makes you feel better about yourself, you have a serious mental and emotional problem and should probably seek professional help. However, if you are able to help them and you feel good about helping another mother, kudos, you should.
We mothers need to be supporting each other, not tearing each other down in order to feel better about our own choices. The crap talk often goes like this: "Well, she'll be sorry when her kid is: (insert some negative life event like prison, drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, or other blatant judgmental jerkiness)" Really? Do I want to hear that inferred about someone I love or care for? REALLY? Negativity breeds negativity. You can come from the best parents, perfect childhood and still grow up to be a terrible person. You can have a shitty upbringing and grow to be an amazing person. The judging, self-righteous, sanctimonious BS needs to stop. Get ready to clutch onto your pearls, you delicate little petals, because I am about to drop some infinite wisdom on you: No two families are the same (What? NO! I know, right!) No two children are the same (I know, I am not even kidding...do you need some smelling salts?) What worked for you will not always work for someone else and may not work for anyone else (deep breaths, it's going to be ok).
For some this may be really difficult, but if you value the feelings of others and the relationship you share, then do not judge, do not talk crap, do not feel that you need to insert your sanctimonious opinion into someone else's situation. Do not say "well the book says", do not insist that the way you did it was better, do not insinuate that you are more educated than a pediatrician unless you are in fact a pediatrician, and even then, tread lightly. When someone offers you an opinion on child rearing, ask to see their medical degree in parenthood. Discard the jerks and pearl clutchers and surround yourself with those who support you, bolster your motherhood self-esteem, and never make you feel that they are better than you.
Do not EVER assume that because it is not 'your way' it is the wrong way. Just no. That doesn't make you a better parent, it makes you an asshole.
Did you ever get any really nasty 'advice' from another mother? Please share it with us so we can all support and commiserate!