There is a nasty epidemic going around with moms in parenting circles. It's a not-so silent but deadly killer of your fellow parents self-esteem, confidence, and respect in parenting. Unlike some diseases that slink around quietly in dark corners and look for places to hibernate, this disease has a loud and presumptuous host that likes to be all up in your face and in your business. What's this contagion, you ask?
I call it parental assuming. What is parental assuming?
Parental assuming can take on many different forms. The most easily recognizable symptoms to spot are parents who suffer from a lack of understanding, empathy, and knowledge of other parents' circumstances, parenting choices, and decisions regarding their kid(s) yet, assume they know and comment anyway. Most of the carriers of this disease don't have the slightest clue as to the individual challenges other parents or children possess yet, they seem to have no problem telling you how you're doing it wrong and how you should be doing it better when it comes to the choices you make for your child(ren).
Other symptoms of parental assuming may include, but are not limited to:
- A very closed-minded individual coupled with their loud, overbearing mouth which is willing to yap and bark at all times and in reaction to any and all parenting issue, discussion, or Facebook comment thread.
- A know-it-all who refuses to accept that their point of view or position on a topic may not be the only view to consider in a parenting situation or issue.
- A high and mighty sense of worth and "wealth" of knowledge. A "Tsk, tsk sweetie..."mentality.
- Anal leakage (What good would any medical list be without mentioning the stereotypical, found on every warning label anal leakage??!)
Dealing with a person who suffers from parental assuming can be mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. At times, you may feel weak, self-conscience, depressed, have feelings of low self-esteem as a parent but there is hope. To those of you who find yourselves constantly dealing with the barrage of self-righteous, know-it-all parents, here's my non-board certified medical advice to you...
Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
Because, as the 'ol saying goes, we all know what you are when you assume, right?
All sarcasm aside, let's get serious for a minute. This is a problem I've noticed more and more lately among parents - specifically mothers. Why is this? Why do some women make it their business to be up in everyone else's? Furthermore, isn't parenting hard enough without having to listen to someone who makes you feel like a bad parent simply because of the choices you make for your child?
From my own personal experiences as a mom, I've found 3 basic areas of parenting that other moms just love to stick their assuming noises in - Breast feeding, sleep training, and the choice of whether or not to vaccinate their kids. All three of which should be personal and private decisions made between the parents with their child's doctor that somehow get put on center stage for the entire world to feel they have commentary and judgment on. Let me explain...
When I found out I was pregnant, I knew the entire time that I wanted to BF. I even signed myself up for a class at the hospital - I felt like a milking pro and I hadn't even had my baby yet. Long story short, about a month into having Madeline home, I had to wave the white flag for a couple of different reasons. First, I wasn't producing enough milk and nothing I tried would change that even with pumping. Secondly, Maddy didn't take to BF at all. She wasn't having it. Even visiting with a lactation specialist didn't help. We just couldn't make it work so in order for my child to eat, we had to make the switch to formula.
For about the first week, it made me feel like the worlds worst mother. I felt like a failure. I thought, "If I can't even supply my own child with food, what else won't I be able to do as her mother??" I was in tears the entire week and severely depressed over the whole situation. It was horrible. to make matters worse, I would read online comments while scouring the Internet for BF resources of other mothers who would say things like, "If you can't BF it's because you're not trying hard enough." or "Moms who choose to formula feed are just plain lazy and don't really care about their child's nutrition."
Um, yeah OK. Sure. Whatever.
News flash - not every mother is capable of BF her child. Sometimes it's just not possible, whether it be because of the mother's own body not adjusting or sometimes it's the child. Either way, sometimes it's not in the cards. If you're able to BF, great. Do it. Juice those titties all day long. I commend you and tip my hat off to you because I know it's not easy but the assumption of "laziness" and "not trying hard enough" needs to stop.
There are a ton of resources on the market for sleep training. Michael and I felt very overwhelmed when it came to this topic but we both agreed on two things - 1. We didn't want Maddy sleeping in our bed and 2. We wanted Maddy to be an independent sleeper. After doing a lot of research and talking with Maddy's doctor, we decided on the Cry It Out method.
As it turns out, it was one of the best parenting decisions we've made to date. Maddy took to it like a champ (Better than any other method as she started sleeping through the night at 2 months old) and Michael and I were able to get some much needed rest. It worked beautifully but to hear some people assume, we basically threw our child in a crib and left.
Not at all. This assumption couldn't be further from the truth. This is one of the biggest misconceptions of the CIO method. To summarize, you lay your child down at night for bed and if they begin to cry, there are set durations of time you wait before going in to soothe them; the point being the child learns how to soothe themselves while knowing the parent will eventually be there.
We've had some hiccups along the way with Maddy's sleep (Due to illness and teething) but for us and our child, it worked. Maddy knows that bedtime is in her bed and that it's OK to sleep by herself. And isn't that supposed to be the point? Doing what's best and what works for your child? I think so.
Not much to say on this one except we chose to vaccinate. It was never a question for us.
What amazes me more about this topic is how critics of vaccines seem to assume that parents who chose to do it don't care that we pump our kids full of toxins and chemicals. Quite the contrary. What I'm more concerned about is keeping my child healthy - bottom line. For me, that means making sure my child is vaccinated to protect her to the best of my ability from getting diseases which could hinder or compromise her health. At the same time, I can understand and respect why some parents choose to not do it. And isn't that the point? We all have the ability to choose what works best for us and our children.
At the end of the day, I guess that is the point I'm trying to make. We are all individuals who come from different backgrounds with different beliefs. Not every child is the same nor are they all cut from the same mold. Doesn't it stand to reason that different methods and ways of parenting work for some and not for others?
There is a complete lack of respect and regard for each of us as women and mothers and honestly, it needs to change. Respect that what works for your child may not work for another. Respect that each of us has a choice on how to raise our children. Respect that each mother is doing the best they can to raise their children.
More importantly, this disease of parental assuming needs to stop as well. Stop assuming that your way is the only way. Stop assuming that you have all the answers when it comes to parenting. Stop assuming that everyone who isn't doing it your way is doing it wrong.
Stop. Really - just stop.
Instead, step down from your high horse to see that you too are making mistakes as a parent. You too fail from time to time. You too struggle with the ups and downs of having children.
How would you feel if someone on the outside of your life were looking in to only assume that you're not a good parent simply for the choices you make that you feel are best for your child?