The mommy wars continue to wage: SAHM v. working mothers, bottle v. breast, natural birth v. C-section, helicopter parenting v. free range kids. I even saw serious, heated discussions about how extensive Easter Baskets should or shouldn’t be. Everyone has an opinion as to how they’re parenting today’s child.
The first issue that many commentators have is the terminology. Just because women (and parents in general) have differing opinions, there shouldn’t be, and in many cases, there is not, a full-blown war. The moniker has spread too far and is probably itself outdated. People are rightfully finding it offensive to slap a label on every parenting issue as “another battle in the mommy wars.” No, it’s just someone’s opinion. Let’s not make trouble if there is none.
Once we call it a discussion as opposed to a war or debate, the aggression seems to dissipate entirely. But for all those who want a truce on the war, I can give you that too – Because You Are Right!
How you go about raising your child is your choice – a fundamental right. Think of the Bill of Rights: you have the freedom of speech, religion, and now, the right to raise your child any way you see fit. You consider your particular set of financial, medical, cultural, and social factors in your home, and choose what’s best for your children and your family. That’s the great awesomeness of being a mom.
With the right, is the responsibility. I’m reminded of what Peter Parker’s uncle said to him when he realized he had super-spidey powers, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
You have your parents as an example. You are free to adopt their strategy, reject it wholeheartedly, or even selectively emulate from their example. Our generation has no problem rejecting our parents’ examples in child rearing. For many of us, their opinions are thirty years old and are obscured by memory.
I remember desperately turning to my mother for advice on breastfeeding when my first was just a newborn and would feed for hours on end. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “I have no idea. We bottle fed you and your brother. They told us that formula was healthier and we believed them.” I think a lot of us have had those moments. When we realize that we’re completely responsible for this little human and our own parents simply shrug their shoulders. These moments make you grow up and turn into a mother.
Our friends offer guidance too. We are free to reject or adopt their strategies. Same with what you learn about via doctors, experts, and on the internet. There’s tons of parenting information out there and we have access to it. So much more than my mother who was simply told what to do in the hospital. Their generation just listened. It didn’t have a whole encyclopedia of knowledge via their smartphone instantly.
Can we exist in a parenting world if everyone is the expert on his own child, and everyone’s opinion on what to do with that child is right? Where there’s no collective conventional wisdom of our time, other than “my opinion is right”? What about someone else’s opinion that’s different than ours. Is she wrong? Should we judge her harshly and whisper about her to other moms at the playground?
One author opines that this is the general thinking these days – that we’re so self-righteous that those who don’t agree with us are not only wrong, but villainous. Welcome to the World Where Everybody’s Right – Or a Villain. Although this author was explaining this way of thinking with respect to the Steven Avery murder trial, detailed on Netflix’s original documentary Making a Murderer, and politics mainly, it’s certainly applicable to the mommy wars. We know mommies that are so sure that they’re right, they’re not only unable to change their minds, but even see the other side of the issue, through someone else’s point of view.
It’s very dangerous to think that your opinion is the only correct way. That’s why there are such things as mommy wars, political wars, and war in general. Remember that someone who differs from you is not necessarily wrong. She has a different circumstance, so she’s may be (probably is) right.
Nor can we stop learning – even if we may be right at this moment about this particular thing. We can’t stop learning, listening to other opinions, changing our minds, and sometimes even admitting that we were wrong. Changing course with parenting technique is not failure, but growth. Our children are constantly growing. Their needs and abilities change, so our philosophies may need to grow along with them.
Will our children be outraged when they rear their own children and the new conventional wisdom tells them that babies should kept in the house as long as possible to avoid disease and scoff at us (their parents) for participating in a million mommy and me courses? Will our children be outraged at us when they realize that they’ve been served processed foods that included wheat and dairy throughout their childhood?
I don’t know. That’s the thing. We can’t predict what will be considered a passing fad or the more acceptable approach to parenting in thirty years’ time. Only time will tell. But in the meantime, you’re right. But also remember to respect the other side’s opinion. For the simple reason that his circumstances is different than yours. Or yours may change. There are no winners, no losers. Just keep educating yourself. Keep doing the best thing that you think for your children.
Armistice declared in the Mommy Wars (now labeled “Parenting Discussions”). Check.
Kids, time to eat dinner. Buttered pasta in front of your kindles, anyone?