Attention all Moms

I know I am not the first person to say this. Nor will I be the last. But Mom’s, could we please just lay off each other?! What is it about being a parent that sends us all into a tizzy of judging everyone else?

I will admit that I am not innocent. I have certainly looked at other Mom’s and thought: “Why is she feeding her toddler those french fries?” or “How much did she spend on that outfit for her baby?” Things that are trivial and quite frankly, none of my business. I try to keep them to myself. I would never say them to the Mom directly. Although it is not much better that I sometimes share my judgy thoughts with a friend. I need to try harder.

I have my opinion on some of the great Mommy debates. I think babies should eat healthy, unprocessed food. Women should be supported to have natural births, when possible. And kids do best sans a helicopter over their head.

Part of the reason I started writing this blog is to have a space to say what I feel, regardless of if anyone is listening or not. Of course, the ideal would be that I could join a chorus of voices to encourage our governments to change their policies. Like having better regulations on sugar and salt added to baby food. Or more government support of the midwifery system, so Mom’s get care that is geared to encouraging natural births.

Of course, I have to admit I would also be happy if something I wrote encouraged a few parents to change what they feed their kids or encourage a healthy self-esteem by not protecting them from ever failing. But I try my best to say what I want to say, without condemning others for doing something I don’t agree with.

There are some Mommy debates I am more neutral on. I fully embrace a ‘I will do what works best for my baby and my family- and you do what works best for your baby and your family.” Like breastfeeding or bottle feeding, staying at home or going to work, pain medication during labour or not, or whether or not you use a cry-it-out or no-cry method to get your baby to sleep.

That being said, what has really started to bother me over the last couple days, is just how poorly we Mom’s treat each other when it comes to these types of issues. Especially on the internet. An article I read yesterday even suggested that for some, it has reached the level of bullying. (http://bit.ly/d7c5Ml)  We aren’t exactly sending the best message to our kids, are we?

So far, my experience on twitter and blogging has been very positive. There does seem to be a good community of positive and supportive Moms to connect with. I have been lucky offline too; I have only heard, but not experienced, the dreaded ‘being stopped on the street or at the mall by an other Mom offering ‘helpful’ unwanted advice.’ It seems, though, that the online debates are where things really heat up.

As others have said, there is something about both the anonymity and immediacy  of the internet that seems to heighten the mommy wars. People see something, feel immediate outrage, write down how they feel and post it, without really thinking it through. They are addressing, mostly, people they don’t have address face to face. While they may not mean to, there are some Mom’s who feel judged and criticized by their statements. They may have a good message, but it gets lost in their tone of superiority.

Twitter was all a’twitter the other day about a live segment on the Today show with a baby being born via c-section. I am sure the Mom’s who criticized what happened were just trying to voice that natural births are not as well supported in our health care system as they should be. But the tone seemed very different from that. Some comments I saw practically called the c-section tragic and implied that showing a c-section on TV was the moral equivalent of showing someone smoking… with all those impressionable young people watching. Just a bit extreme.

And so not the point. The issue is our health care system (in both the US and Canada) and most doctor’s bias towards situations they feel they can ‘control.’  What happened on the Today show was just a TV show going for ratings, by showing something that will stir people up. Voila- it worked! Unless you are actually going to argue that showing a c-section should be banned from the airwaves, let’s drop the attitude and accept that c-sections are a valid option and there is nothing wrong with someone making that choice. You may not like that choice- but it doesn’t make it wrong.

I could hazard a guess that what is actually upsetting people is that, like most TV discussions of health, the topic being discussed was WAY over-simplified. As a result it did not accurately represent the issue in a balanced manner. That is why you get your health care advice from your trusted health care providers, not the TV. It maybe be irresponsible reporting, but there is nothing new about that in the ‘news’ industry.

This is just one of a large handful of issues that I have read online in the last couple weeks, where the tone of the discussion turns me off. Makes me feel dirty. Makes me feel like we, as Moms, could stand to be a lot less judgmental. Some bloggers have experienced ‘swarms’ of ‘pro-/anti-somethings’ descending on their blogs, name calling and insulting a different point of view. It bothers me.

Sure, lets take a stand for the things we believe in. Let’s say our piece when something strikes us as wrong. But before we do, lets take a deep breath and consider how our words and tone might make an other Mother feel. Think about what you really want to say and what really bothered you before you let loose via the multiple online channels at our fingertips. Let’s try to take the finger pointing, name calling and judgment out of the equation. And, above all, let’s give each other a break. Being a parent is hard, let’s not make it any harder.

Advertisements

7 responses to “Attention all Moms

  1. amoment2think February 4, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Oh gosh, I just looked back and realized I wrote, just a couple days ago, a rather ‘judgy’ rant about parents driving around our house. (http://bit.ly/cjm4dE) See, I am not perfect in this regard. Although I was criticizing parents driving habits, not parenting styles/choices. Totally different, right? Sort of?

    Okay, I will try to be better behaved.

    • Pam February 4, 2010 at 10:29 am

      Yes, it’s different. Driving like an ass in a school zone is something people should be called on because it’s completely unsafe and endangers people. What you’re discussing in this post is being judgemental about personal choices that really shouldn’t have an effect on anyone else’s lives.

      I think that we’re all guilty of being judgemental, whether it’s to make ourselves feel better about our own choices or out of a misguided sense of “advice”. But it’s the way that people choose to voice those opinions and in what arena that makes a difference. Everyone feels bolstered by the anonymity of the internet, I think. It’s an accepted standard of behaviour, in a way, which is shocking. There will always be people who fall victim to the trap of beating up on others to make themselves feel better. You just have to be conscious and not get sucked into the attitude.

  2. Cheryl February 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    There is no more judgmental group of people than moms! It really is sad that we all fall victim to it; we all have those moments when we see a mother struggling with a screaming child and let ourselves think that wouldn’t be us. (More often than not, that screaming child was ours the day before!)
    Motherhood is so full of insecurity and doubt that we allow ourselves minor victories over others to somehow gain a little confidence. It is false confidence, though. We will never feel better when we’re stuck in this trap.
    I know moms who wear their non-epidural births like badges of honour and act as if a C-section is cheating. Ridiculous! Every mom went through her own issues to have a baby and there is no score sheet for that.
    I am so re-posting this 🙂

    • amoment2think February 4, 2010 at 3:43 pm

      Thanks Cheryl.
      I didn’t think about the ‘minor victories over others to somehow gain a little confidence’ angle, but it makes sense. Not that it makes it any better.

      Its true though, that us Mom’s are plagued with a lack of confidence at times. I have actually been contemplating an other post on being a Mom and guilt. So maybe we need to start by giving our selves a break and then we might be able to be more supportive of others.

  3. Amber February 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I have found that I have become less judgmental of other moms as I’ve gained more parenting experience of my own. Parenting two kids over many years in many different circumstances has helped me to adopt a ‘live and let live’ attitude, overall. I have seen from first-hand experience that there are no right and wrong answers in parenting, or even in a single family.

    Having said that, there is value sometimes to calling people on what they say. I am not confrontational and I don’t write attack posts or engage in Twitter fights. But I see bloggers like the fabulous Annie from PhD in Parenting taking on Nestle and I feel like she’s making a difference.

    Parenting is very loaded, especially when a mom feels that things haven’t worked out. If she tried to breastfeed and wasn’t successful, she may mourn that. When someone writes about breastfeeding, she may feel judged even though no judgment was intended. So it’s a balance – we need to refrain from judging others, but we also need to refrain from being quick to take things that we read online personally, if we can. Because it’s almost never about us.

    • amoment2think February 4, 2010 at 4:04 pm

      Amber, I think you have a number of good points.

      I know I am very ‘sensitive’ about the breastfeeding issue, as I am in the camp of ‘wanted it to work but didn’t’. I know I need to not take it so personally. And I certainly agree that there are times when we need to take a stand. Especially against companies and governments whose decisions and policies can have a negative impact on our children. You are right, balance is always a good way to go. But I think there is a way to take up the cause, while still respecting the value of parents diverse choices. In addition to the onslaught of judgment, I have also seen a lot of great bloggers do just that.

      I also agree that more experience as a parent helps. I have certainly learned that while there are things I said ‘I will never do that when I am a parent,’ those preconceived notions go right out the window when you have that baby in your arms crying.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. amoment2think February 7, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Update:

    I was very bothered by the tone of the initial reaction of some Mommy bloggers to the Today Show’s live c-section. However, since that initial reaction I have seen a number of very balanced discussions on the issues that are much less judgmental and more supportive and informative. I think it shows that when we do take a deep breath and think it through we can use the internet in a very positive way.

%d bloggers like this: