I don’t understand, why as a parenting group/collective/clump/tribe (whatever the current in word is) that people are so unkind and judge each other, and spend so much time worrying about what other parents are doing with their children and families, and getting high and mighty when a mother (or father) chooses to do things a different way from them. Why do we judge and rip apart when we should all be working together and supporting each other? This parenting malarky is HARD (and wonderful) work and when we are more worried about what other people think, or we are more worried about making other people conform to our way of parenting, and we breed guilt, anxiety, fear and make the job much harder.
Listen, I breastfed my babies, until they were both toddlers. It worked for us. A good friend of mine chose to formula feed from the get go, and when you put our now grown, healthy children together in a room, you can’t tell who was formula fed, and who wasn’t. You know what? No one can. They are all doing well, thriving, loved and it DOESN’T MATTER how they were fed. They were fed the best way each family felt was needed. They were FED, which is more than can be said of many babies around the world, even as I type this.
I had two natural births, one was hideous, the other was great. You know what? I am probably going to elect for a c-section next time, because that will work personally for us, in terms of my mental and physical health. If my friend who is due to have her baby in the next few weeks has the natural birth she wants, then I will be happy for her, and delighted to cuddle a squidgy newborn, and I won’t care how she had the baby as long as she and her baby are healthy, happy and well. It isn’t my place, or your place or anyone’s place to judge if how women have babies, or where. We make choices or have to make decisions based on medical advice to keep ourselves and our babies healthy. Birth trauma exists, I am a survivor, but that doesn’t give me the right to bash anyone who hasn’t suffered from it.
We have walked a difficult sleep route with our little boy. Our journey has been challenging. My experience does not make me an expert, or the most knowlegeable and I don’t try to make everyone try the things I have tried, and what works for us. I have friends who have had babies who slept well from the get go, who have been lucky but also thankfully, kind enough not to rub my face in it, or criticise me or my parenting, but have supported me and propped me up. I have also had people rip me/us to shreds for our choices. Why? Because there is always an expert on sleep, and how, when and where a baby should sleep. Co sleeping is a hot topic, as is sleep training. We all do what is best for our own babies and our own mental health and well being. We learn as we go, we make mistakes or we get it right. What works for one family doens’t work for another. My 4.5 year old sleeps on the floor of our room for 12 hours a night, because he needs to be near us, and it’s fine with us, because we are all sleeping well. If that isn’t what works for someone else, that’s fine with me. They aren’t my child’s parent.
We made medical choices for our family that another family might not. I signed the consent form for my child to have her tonsils and adenoids taken out, because they were making her unwell and causing her to have sleep apnoea. I didn’t do it lightly, and I knew there were risks. Other families may not need to or have to make those choices. I don’t judge a family that on medical advice decides to wait and see if an operation is needed, any more than I would judge a mother that rings me to ask if I would do the operation again, because she really wants to help her child, but is unsure and just needs to have someone listen to her fears. I don’t judge families who chose to make health choices for their children and families, because it’s not up to me.
We chose a particular weaning route, because I had done some reading, and research, spoken to a friend who was an expert on feeding babies and children, and decided we would try that route. It worked for us. When I am asked about what we did, I will explain, with the caveat that “it is not the right choice for everyone, you need to do what works for you and your baby” and I can happily talk about other methods of weaning too, when asked. I happen to like the route we chose, but if another mother chooses not to use that method, then SO WHAT? It’s not my business, she’s making sure her child gets fed, and that’s what’s important. If she uses purees, or goes the BLW route, it’s not for me to judge.
Where and how your baby sleeps, how you choose to eductate them, if you go back to work or to stay at home after your children are born, potty training, discipline, whether you use a pushchair or prefer to use a pushchair, toddler tantrums, how you choose to feed then wean your baby? I could go on all day, but I won’t….We all make choices, we all do what is best for our own families.
We need to stop sweating and judging the small stuff. We need to stop bashing each other, treating other parents like they are wrong and bad parents because they don’t do what we think is best, because, hey, it might not actually be best for them, and instead, SUPPORT each other. When a mother says “my baby isn’t sleeping well, I am tired, this is hard” we give her a hug, make her a coffee, offer to come over and cuddle said baby for an hour or two, while she naps. Don’t lecture or belittle her. Prop her up and make her feel like someone understands. When a toddler is tantruming, and you are nearby, and it’s mother looks like she needs a stiff drink, and a spa day, and is probably on the verge of tears herself, don’t tell her what she should or shouldn’t be doing. Instead, how about “I have been there, it’s a nightmare, it does get better, you are doing a great job, I am sure they should serve wine to mother’s who have to go shopping in the supermarket after 5pm with kids in tow, toddlers are HARD work, can I help you push your shopping trolley/carry your bags/get what you need/help?” or if she doesn’t look like she wants help then leave her alone. (I have offered to help many times and not once has anyone been rude to me, in fact most of the time, they are shocked that anyone cares and because I have been there, myself, I know it is nice to have support and sympathy when your little angel is melting down in the cheese aisle at 5pm and you are about to melt down yourself and think everyone around you is judging you)
When someone is bottle feeding their baby, don’t remark or ask them why, or ask them if they “tried to breastfeed”. Tell them their baby is adorable, and move on. They don’t need your opinion on the evils of formula or how how wonderful breastfeeding is. Same applies to a breastfeeding mum. If you don’t like it, don’t stare or make rude remarks. It’s a baby, eating, nothing more, nothing dreadful. Move along.
Folks, we need to stop worrying about what other people are doing and worry about our own children. I had my children so I could parent them, and I have learned (although I will admit, that I thought I was an expert until the children actually arrived) that what I do is not always the right choice for someone else, and that the things we practice or do for our children and families don’t make me better, more superior or the BEST mum compared to others. I am trying to the be the best mum for MY children, not anyone else’s children, whilst also trying to support and be kind, (and if I have ever come across as unkind or judgemental, in anyway, please know that either I was not meaning to, or I was very wrong and I apologise, sincerely) to other mums and families around me.
Be kind to your fellow parents. It gets us much further and does make the job that little bit easier…
That was my long winded Friday Rant. I saw a mother, a new mother, being ripped to shreds for her choices on how she fed her baby, in a Facebook post, this week, and it made me angry. I have seen a lot of judgement, and harsh treatment from parents to other parents, some even quite well known and famous bloggers and writers make a living out of if, and I for one, wish it would stop.
Here endeth the rant! Thanks for reading!