Parenting is one of the most personal actions you will ever do. However, it seems that “personal action” has become a “judged action”. In today’s society we have an influx of books, blogs, and groups that can help navigate the murky waters of parenting. Unfortunately with increased access into people’s lives by way of Facebook, Instagram and blogs, an age old issue has been magnified: the Mommy Wars. Mommy Wars have become a constant occurrence, whether you’re a celebrity or personal friends. It seems like everyone has an opinion, and everyone’s opinion is the RIGHT opinion. So, why can’t we all just get along? Here are some lessons I have learned as a new mom.
Be mindful of how much information you share publicly. It’s so easy to want to overshare on social media, over the phone or through text messages! Your little one just did x, y, or z! Yippee! However, some people may see this as a great moment to give their opinion. Although many will not do this with ill will, it can feel like an attack on your decisions as a parent. To avoid this situation, limit your public updates. Some hot topics could include baby food versus baby led weaning, breastfeeding versus formula, sleep training versus co-sleeping and so on.
Do not give advice unless you are asked for it. This sounds a bit harsh, but the feeling of unsolicited advice can really rub a mom the wrong way. As women, we want to share what we found helpful, but it may inadvertently feel like an attack. A great way to handle a situation where you want to give advice is to say “Please let me know if you have any questions!” This way it will be clear if the other mom is open to advice. I have really appreciated other moms who have said this despite our very opposite views.
Remember that you do not know the whole story. From the outside it may look like a mom is making a very wrong decision, causing you to rush to judgment. However, you may not know the whole story. Take this mom’s breastfeeding story. She shared her difficult journey through breastfeeding in order to help other moms know that if it does not work out, it is okay. Sadly, she had to add a condition at the bottom of her post deterring rude comments because, unfortunately, Mommy Wars rage in the comment section. Take a moment to breathe before you press send. Ask yourself, “Would I say this in person? Would I want someone to say this to me?” Remember moms (and dads!) are doing the best they can.
If someone rubs you the wrong way, walk away. You do not need to be berated. Engaging someone who is overzealous may turn into a deeper issue than you want it to be. Although it is difficult, be the bigger person and drop it. A good phrase I have used is “Awesome I will look into that!” This makes the person feel like they have been understood and do not need to try to convince you further. Keep things light hearted. Realize that just as your opinion is not going to change, theirs is not as well. It is tempting to try to “defend” your parenting choices, but just like politics, debating is often useless.
So, can we just get along? I think Thumper from the movie Bambi had it right: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. When moms start to be supportive instead of informative, putting down their research and picking up encouragement, there will be more peace amongst those doing the most important job: being a parent.