Parenting, by far, is the most difficult job I will ever hold. It’s not because of other jobs I may or may not have, it’s because I’m shaping the world of little beings. The choices they will make, the principals they will hold dear, their attitude towards other people, their ability to contribute to society, and so much more. I’m also developing some of the closest bonds I will ever have.
My little people, as I call them, actually have just as much to teach me about parenting as I have to parent them. They have changed how I view the world, myself, people in my life, politics, laws, doctors, and again, so much more.
Because becoming a parent for the first time, second time, third time, or more changes you. You cannot be the same person you were before you had a child and you won’t be the same person having a fourth child as you were having that first child. It’s just fact. And, if for some reason you did not grow and change, there’s something wrong. I mean that seriously.
What is a Mommy War?
The term is one I have recently heard, but it’s something that has gone on for such a long time. In the worst sense, a mommy war is where mothers, from different walks, argue with each other their parenting choices. It’s the stay-at-home mom verses the working mother. It’s the vaccination versus the anti-vaccination. It’s the circumcision verses the anti-circumcision. It’s breastfeeding verses formula feeding. It’s spanking verses time out.
You get the idea.
A mommy war, however, typically is ugly. It’s not fun to watch. It’s disheartening. An outsider will always feel empathy for one side or another. In this capacity, mommy wars should not continue!
The truth of the matter is, the term is widely over used. I’ve used it in my post title for a number of reasons, primarily to get your attention. The internet by and large has amplified these so-called wars, and I see a reason for that, too.
Why Then Are Mommy Wars Important?
It is not the war that it is important. In fact, that’s the one thing that should be discontinued. It’s the dialog that happens in these conversations that should be carried on. Here are some [very] personal reasons why:
When I was pregnant with my twins, I didn’t know about birthing options or having the freedom and say-so in my own birth. It was because another mother, who cared about a woman’s right her birthing options, had an interest to say something to me. While I ended up with a c-section, by my own choosing, and against her practice of the natural birth, I became educated. It was also because of her that I was empowered to make my own decision. Had she kept silent, I would have felt as though I had to follow all of doctor’s orders, regardless of how my body felt.
The boys’ father is a man that is not circumcised. Being that I had a daughter, circumcision was something I had never thought about. Didn’t care, actually. He asked the boys not be circumcised and it prompted me to begin research. I didn’t know that I should care if my sons were circumcised or not, until I began my research. Going further, I now find myself in a place of advocacy for intact little boys, believing it’s their body and their choice. Sometimes, I’m the one with a piece to share with a mother about to have a little boy and because of me, she begins her research. Had he not of asked, I wouldn’t have known the difference.
I struggled to breastfeed my boys. It was so important for me to do it and I encountered one hurdle after another. It was my sister-in-law that talked me through getting help and advice. It was also her that understood I needed to grieve for not being able to breastfeed after more than 6 months of trying. Meanwhile, it was my sister-in-law who gave birth 2 weeks before I did, that supplied 10 months of breastmilk for my sons (and my nephew)!
In all of the scenarios, I was on the receiving end of advice. Advice that I admit is sometimes hard to take. It’s hard to hear, process, understand, and even more so accept. The thing is, because the delivery of all this information was kind, personal, and respectful, I was able to receive it in a way that made a difference in my life. And, that, that makes all the difference in the world.
It’s about the respect that is involved.
A friend of mine had a son about a month before my boys were born. She and I had lengthy conversations about circumcision; all during the height of my passion. She told me many times she did her research and still chose to circumcise her son. It broke my heart. I ache for her little boy. Once, I cried for him.
However, she heard me. She listened to the information, she processed it, and did what she felt she needed to do. I don’t agree. I wholeheartedly hate the decision that she made. It makes me sad and it makes me upset. But, because she and I chose a respectful conversation over a mommy war, that same friend I speak to often. We have lunch dates, we have play dates, and I’m more than happy to be a sounding board for her at any time. I’d even call her a close friend and one I’m looking forward to seeing upon our arrival back in California.
Our friendship continued, without hiccup, because we have enough respect for each other to agree to disagree.
Then, It’s Not A Mommy War
No, it’s not. I don’t recommend that mothers or fathers, for that matter, start heated debates with each other. I don’t see it useful or productive for anyone to have heated disagreements that end friendships or create hostility. However, our parenting methods are shaped by the people around us. Regardless of the job we think they’re doing as parents, they have something valuable to add. If nothing else, for you to put in your mind what you don’t want to do.
I love a great debate. I’ll be the first to admit it. And when they’re on parenting topics I get very in to them. I love facts, research, science, and understanding. I love a passionate exchange of ideas and beliefs. I love the idea that someone else, in different shoes, can make me think about the choices I am making as a mother. Be it good or bad. I’m not a perfect parent… and neither are you. All we have though is our advice. Valuable advice that deserves to be shared.
We all have something to add to the conversation. Be it scientific information, something we went through so we understand, or just a feeling or opinion about it. Parenting is a difficult job. And that old saying “it takes a village,” works with parents, too. While I don’t want a village raising my children, I’d love to have the village support me, share ideas with me, help me grow and learn so that ultimately I can be a better mom for having been more informed.
So I submit to you, don’t stop talking. Just gain understanding and remember that the person you’re speaking to:
- Trusts You
- Needs Understanding
- Just Wants A New Perspective
- Will Hear You If You’re Not Negative
- Will Respect You, If You Show Respect
Our debates, our conversations, we need them to grow. Be respectful that my view is different than yours, but know that your view is still one that should be shared.