Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mom Wars: Making Choices

I've been thinking recently over the way that many parents (especially moms) get into 'wars' over certain parenting topics: breastfeeding vs formula; co-sleeping vs crying-it-out; mom staying-at-home vs working; vaccination; circumcision; methods for discipline; even things like labor induction or epidurals.

On the one hand I very much understand why these are such hot topics: the parent is making a choice that affects another person's life, a choice which may even have lifelong consequences. That's a lot of responsibility, and I would hope that none of the choices would be taken lightly.

Inevitably people get defensive when someone else questions their choices. I have two basic thoughts on that:
One--if you have to be defensive about it, then are you really that sure about it?! If you truly believe in it, you shouldn't feel the need to defend your decision. Stand up for it, sure, but defend it? If it's so good and right, then won't it speak for itself? (I recently had this realization in regards to nursing in public. Either you do it or you don't, but if you do it then don't be apologetic about it, you know?!)
Two--I've always said that I can respect a person who makes an educated choice (even if I don't agree with the choice), but I cannot respect an UNeducated choice, or the choice-maker. Especially in this age of information, I think there's really no excuse to trust anybody's word on anything, parents should be able to learn things for themselves and make their own decisions. Nobody should just take the word of their doctor, or friend, or neighbor, or mother, or the author of some book...every decision should be based on study, thought, and (at least in all the cases I mentioned above) prayer.


TopHat said...

I think the hardest part is differentiating between making judgment on an action and making a judgment on a person. When we judge a person "bad" we are essentially denying the ability of the atonement to save them. However, I think judging actions is different and we have to judge actions at some point. For example, it's fine to say "Murder is wrong" but to say, "That murderer is a bad person" is not.

This gets fuzzy when we start making judgments such as "spanking is no different than hitting." We have to be careful that we're not saying, "Parents who spank are bad parents." And as people on the receiving end of such statements, we have to remember to separate ourselves from the action. When people say, "Homebirth is risky and dangerous" we should remind ourselves that they AREN'T saying, "You are a bad mom for putting your and your baby in 'danger'."

Becky said...

I agree - read, study, pray, make a decision. And if it feels right, stick with it. I'm so tired of these mom wars. And I'm so tired of both my mother and my mother-in-law telling me I'm doing it all wrong!!

Hey, do you have any posts or opinions (and if I know you at all, you definitely have opinions! :)) about eating habits? Both of my kids' grandmothers like to tell me I'm starving my children. My rule is if you're playing at the table or throwing food, you get one warning, and then you're done. Mealtime should not be a time that people (meaning me) dread every single day. Some days we do well and some days not so well, but my children (mostly Riley, since Millie is still pretty young) know the rules. And we try very hard to be consistent. Boy, do we try! What's your take on mealtime?

Future Mama said...

Amen!! I also think though that sometimes being so passionate about your beliefs can make it hard to see straight when someone is attacking you.

I agree with you though... If you're that touchy maybe, MAYBE something is a little off. Regardless, I appreciate the way you are able to stare your opinion without getting all emotional and mean! Thank you!

Lisa said...

I very much agree with you on your second thought. It drives me crazy when people just want to do things the way their mom did, or the way their doctor told them to, or they think one parenting book (usually "What to Expect...") is enough. I had to sit through a presentation in Relief Society about the "virtues" of a certain infant sleep book. One of the things that got to me the most was the person who was presenting going on about how this author was a doctor, and he had four kids of his own, so he obviously knows what he is talking about. Well, how many people, also doctors, and also parents, have also written books saying the exact opposite of this one? (One comes to mind almost immediately! :))

People need to think for themselves.

On your first point, I am less apt to agree. In my own life, the things I have felt most defensive about are the things over which I had the least control, and the things that I most know were the right choices. The areas where I can clearly see that my choices were due to my own weakness and lack of effort, I am far less defensive about. This is probably because I was less invested in them and they are less emotional.

Mother Goose said...

I agree, i have no problem with the choices and how I have decided to rear our children. My issue comes when another who chooses another way, looks down with disdain about my choices. I have a right and so does she. If she wants to disrespect the choice I have made she better be ready for a lashing against her own views.

I however, am willing and able to discuss pros and cons on both sides as long as their is mutual respect and another is not trying to CHANGE my opinion. We can respectively have our own opinions.

sara said...

Except sometimes parents who spank ARE bad parents ;) and DANG IT have I wanted to tell some people that LOL.

I think when some people, many people, tell me that homebirth is risky they are telling me that I am irresponsible. I've had some people get very heated with me but I try to kill em with kindness and humor. (((try)))

:) Also, I was just gonna give a loud AMEN!

Kelly said...

I agree. Most kids do just fine in spite of us actually. ;)

I do get frustrated when I see parents making decisions out of sheer selfishness. That bugs me, because I think kids deserve for their parents to be willing to make sacrifices.

But when someone has done the research and made an educated decision, I *respect* that decision, even if it isn't the decision I would have made.

Christa said...

I agree to an extent... I think I can become defensive about homebirth but it is something that is "forbidden" in my home state. I also had a horrible experience with my twins, so people automatically assume that there must be something wrong with me that would prevent me from having a safe birth. So I do have to "defend" myself in a sense.
I do agree about the unapologetic approach, if it's right then it's right. My husband and I just went through this tonight. I put our daughter in the corner (for less than a minute at that!), he said I was mean, and told her she could come out and that he was sorry she had to stand in the corner....UGH there went the whole purpose of the corner! Don't apologize for punishment, it's punishment!

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