Lately I’ve been thinking a lot of about different parenting styles, and the millions of choices that we have to make as parents on a daily basis. What is deemed ‘the Mommy Wars’ makes frequent headlines, and it seems as if moms love to duke it out and bash each other on social media for making different choices. I have noticed lately that certain websites love to fuel the fire. A recent example is a picture of a mom nursing in public with the caption “Would you nurse here? Do you think it’s okay?” Guess what, if mom and baby are legally allowed to be there, it’s okay! We don’t need any other mothers (or other people for that matter) to express their opinions on whether they ‘think’ it’s okay. The advent of social media seems to make people feel that they have the right to comment (and even judge) anything and everything! I would argue that that is what is not okay.
Obviously, I make the choices that I make as a parent because I believe them to be the best ones for my family and myself. But my family is not your family, and by virtue of making different choices than you, I am not saying that yours are wrong. I think that is something we all need to remember. We need not take offense because someone makes different decisions than we do. And it is absolutely okay that they make the choices that they deem best for their family.
I consider myself a ‘free range parent’ which drives my mother insane. She was a helicopter mom and continues to be a helicopter grandmother. Let’s be honest, she still helicopters me all the time even though I recently turned 30. She lives and dies by ‘better safe than sorry.’ And that’s okay! That’s her choice. It also gives me lots of reasons to give her a hard time and send her articles and studies on how that makes for dependent children! Case in point if I don’t talk to my mother on the phone for 24 hours she calls asking where I am or if I’m okay and if it stretches to 48 hours, I call and ask her if she’s okay! Dependency much?
Let’s take the contentious issue of vaccines. I choose not to vaccinate my children. That is a decision that I came to after my two older children both had vaccine reactions. I decided to do a lot of research into vaccinations. I read everything that I could get my hands on. I’ve read the CDC website, FDA website, Dr. Tenpenny, and Mercola,. I have read the package inserts for every single one. I have had heated discussions with a close friend who works in a lab creating adjuvants for vaccines. I have read the decidedly biased-for research, the decidedly biased-against, and everything in between. I never stop doing research because I want to make sure that the decision I have made continues to be the right one for my family. I believe that the things I do to boost my family’s immunity will protect them more than a vaccine with a dubious track record at best. In addition, we practice strict quarantine during illness. I don’t have to take them to school and I don’t have a job that requires me to be at work while ill or when I have sick children. This can be frustrating at times. Because I work with pregnant women and infants, if either myself or a member of my family is feeling even a little bit off, I have to call in a back up doula. I hate missing an appointment or birth for illness! But it’s a fact of life and a choice that I make to keep my clients and their families safe.
I have been attacked and berated for this choice that I have made. I have been accused of putting other children in danger. But the point I am trying to make is this: I do not attack other parents for vaccinating their children with certain vaccines, despite the fact that I disagree with their decision. I believe every parent has the right to do their own research and make their own choices and not be attacked! I don’t accuse parents who give live virus vaccines to their kids of putting mine in danger. Despite the fact that live virus vaccines are known to shed. My mother’s own physician cautioned her against getting the shingles vaccine because of her close contact with myself (I was pregnant at the time) and my two young children. I do not attack other mothers for their decisions and I would hope they would give me the same respect in return.
What about natural birth? Epidurals? Babywearing vs. strollers? Homeschooling vs. public education? There are so many different ways to live, and there is no one right way for everyone. The world needs all types of people and we need not attack each other because we make different choices. Did you love your natural birth? Great! That’s an amazing accomplishment. Did you love your epidural? Awesome, I’m so glad it worked for you and gave you a great birth experience. Do you love baby wearing? Me too! Prefer to use a stroller? Not the choice I would make, but some babies love being strolled around! Do you love your local public school? That’s so great that you and your kids have a school you like that’s nearby.
I have noticed that some of the ways I choose to live can make people really uncomfortable! My decision to begin homeschooling next year has many of my friends and family in quite the tizzy! But after much discussion with my husband, and including my oldest son in the decision, and fully researching our schooling options, we have come to the realization that it’s the best choice for our family for next year. Doesn’t mean we won’t change our minds. Or we might homeschool forever! The great thing is that we have so many choices! There are many frustrating things about living in America (stay tuned for my post on maternal leave and restrictive birth policies in the US) but we are lucky enough to live here and be able to choose homeschooling if that’s what works for our family.
I have many friends in the natural birth and homeschooling community. We understand each other and feel comfortable together. But I also have friends on the other end of the spectrum! And I need them just as much. I have one friend who would never dream of a natural birth, and that’s okay! But if she ever asked me for more information about natural birth, I would offer everything I had! As a doula, I am for informed choice in pregnancy and childbirth. As a parent and a human, I am for informed choice in all parts of life. But I am also for respect and decency. Let’s stop slamming each other on social media. If you see a meme or website that you like, share! Tag people who might be interested! Express why it speaks to your heart. But let’s chill out in the comments. We don’t need to attack the ways of others in order to promote issues that we are passionate about or explain the reasons why we walk a certain path.