Disclaimer: Please realize this is laced with heavy sarcasm and as I mention later I have friends that have made choices in all the wide range of parenting options that we have available to us today and even though some of them may not be choices I make and have been guilty of passing judgement myself I do respect each individual mother's choice.
Our society seems to have this one size fits all mentality right now. And if you don't conform to those standards be prepared to be scorned. And moms, we tend to be a hot target lately.
Let's be honest, most of the time those scornful looks are coming from other women. It's human nature to judge and I know I have done my fair share of judging as much as I try to keep an open mind. But what I find amusing is no matter which way on the spectrum you go someone out there thinks you're off your rocker, and that someone can be anyone from your own mother, your mother in law, sister, grandmother, best friend, coworker, or just the stranger in the store giving you the dirty looks because God forbidden your two year old throws a temper tantrum in public or still takes a bottle or a binkie. And those opinionated thoughts and sometimes overly voiced judgements begin as soon as your child has been conceived, and sometimes way before your child has been conceived if you are a mom who chooses to wait until you're older.
On one hand you're too young to settle down and start a family but on the other what is the matter with you if you've decided to be selfish and spend a few years of your life focused on just you and put off having children until later. I didn't know we had a law stating parenthood had to begin at a particular age. What really makes a particular age more acceptable than another?
Then once everyone knows you're pregnant, judgement overload starts. You're eating too much, you're eating too little, you should rest more, you sleep too much and might as well get used to not sleeping now, you shouldn't do that when you're pregnant, just because you're pregnant doesn't mean you can't do more, you're going to name your baby what?!? Are you the one currently carrying the 7-8 lbs+ baby and that extra other "stuff" around in your midsection with all your organs misplaced for the time being? Are you about to push the baby the size out of a watermelon out of something the size of the end of a hose? Are you that mother right now living HER life? If she wants a milkshake and french fries for dinner, LET HER! She has her reasons.
Then comes the judgement on how you're going to bring the baby into the world. Talk about some heated opinions on this one. You want pain medication? But that's a danger to your baby. You want to have your baby at home? But that's not safe. Are you out of your mind? You want to have your baby in a hospital? That's not safe either and women have been giving birth since the beginning of time before we ever had doctors telling us how to birth our babies. You want to be induced? Well, aren't you selfish. You refuse to be induced? Well, aren't you selfish too. It doesn't matter what decisions we do or don't make someone thinks we're endangering our baby and how awful of us for these birthing decisions we make.We all have our reasons for the decisions we make, and all these debatable issues can be safe but like anything else come with risks. So who are we to make that decision for someone else? It's a mother's right. She has her reaons so let her choose her birth and let it be.
You survived the birth and now you're responsible for raising that child into an acceptable adult. And EVERYONE has an opinion on how you should do it. Breastfeed? Oh my gosh, you're going to let that thing suck on you? You're just willing to whip your boob out whenever? Don't you feel like a cow always nursing and pumping? Bottlefeed? Do you not want what's best for your child according to...? Are you too selfish to meet the demands of a nursing infant? And then come the stares. The stares that you still nurse your child past an "appropriate" age, that your child still has a bottle, that you nursed in public. Oh, my gosh, brand her! She exposed her breast in public! Forget about all the half naked women running around in their skimpy clothing.
Not only does everyone have an opinion on how you should feed them but how they sleep. You let them sleep with you? Isn't that endangering them? They slept with you until they were how old?!?Your bed is a no kid zone and your kids are not allowed in your bed?!? Again, you don't know that mother's life. Maybe she doesn't get to see her kid(s) much all day and sees it as the only time to cuddle and love on them. Maybe she's seen too much of them during the day and they DRIVE her crazy and she needs her space. Maybe this helps her get more SLEEP. You know that thing that all mothers are deprived of at some point. But again whatever her choice she has HER reasons, not yours.
But the judging doesn't stop there. You must be a lazy mom if you stay at home with your kids. Because you know you do nothing all day because you know taking care of and raising your children isn't work at all. You must be a neglectful mom if you work outside of the home or have a career. Because you know modeling values that building and maintaining a career create or bringing in income to keep a roof over your children's heads, clothes on their backs, and food on the table, means absolutely nothing. Again different things work for different people. Neither choice is going to destroy their childhood.
Then there's disciplining. You let your children run wild? You spank them!?!You let them do that? You let your kid throw a temper tantrum in public? You gave into your kid to avoid the public temper tantrum?You should discipline them this way and that way. You're what's the matter with society! If everyone parented like so so then the world would be a better place.
Should we even go to the binkies, pacis, nuks, or whatever they're called. Somewhere out there it has been decided that shortly after they can walk it is a huge NO NO to let them have one. Guess I would be the victim of those stares. This is kind of like the breastfeeding debate again. There are some situations where people just judge you behind your back but when it comes to that binkie they will verbally scorn you and your child for still using it. They may even yank it out of your child's mouth! I will be the first to admit that binkie is for me, damnit! She cries, she screams, she whines and that thing shuts her up and saves my sanity! So leave the damn thing alone. When I am good and ready to break myself of my child having a binkie/paci I will do it. I just need to make sure I'm mentally ready. Again, it's when mommy is ready, not you.
I have mom friends from of all walks of parenting. Ones that have given birth at home, in hospitals, in birthing centers, with pain meds and with nothing. Moms that have breastfed, moms that have formula fed. Moms that stay at home and moms that balance a career with parenting. Moms against spanking, moms that don't think there's a problem with a little swat to the backside. Moms that sleep with their kids, moms that don't allow their kids in their bed. All of them no matter which choices they make are great moms. They all have their reasons for the choices they've made and their kids are fine. Yes, they are fine; they are healthy, thriving, well loved children. Can you believe that? Who would have thought?
I'm sure when my girls are parents themselves I will find it hard not to push my parenting opinions or judgements on them. But their parenting experience will be different than mine. Every one of ours is different. We have different pasts, different fears, different expectations, different resources for help and more help, and we all have different children. Teacher words here: "what works for one child won't always work for another child". You think I would know that being a teacher, but my own two daughters have even shown me that two children can come from the same two parents, be raised in the same environment but have totally different needs that require different approaches to parenting.
Obviously from anyone that knows me and follows me, I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to parenting. I'm kind of selfish. I want pain meds because I don't want to deal with pain if I don't have to, I let my kid sleep in my bed because it's much easier than fighting with her and sometimes it's the best bonding time of the day, I let my kids have binkies longer than the "appropriate" amount of time because the crying, whining, screaming toddler thing drives me crazy, I have let my kids scream in public rather than give them what they want, they know what a spankin is, but I've also been guilty of not following through with discipline or relenting because I'm too tired to fight the battle of wills. I'm not perfect but neither is the person passing judgement on our parenting skills. Parenting doesn't come with experience! Everyone enters this job with no experience and just like with any new experience we will all have our trials and errors and mistakes and lessons. And hopefully we learn enough along the way not to screw up our kids.
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