I know that not everyone will agree with everything I do as a parent. I'm not naive enough to think that there won't be people who will hear my parenting opinions and be affronted by how different they are from theirs. I get that. It's a free country, with free speech and we are all allowed to express our opinions.
But what makes me cringe is when people start calling each other "bad parents" and making hurtful comments about each other. It's happening more and more on social media these days. It has happened to me. When it did, I tried to shake it off. They didn't know me and I didn't know them, so I knew that I shouldn't let it bother me. But guess what? While I'm growing it every day, my skin is still somewhat thin on the parenting front. And when someone rants and raves at me online and calls me a disgrace of a mom just because I parent in a way that is different from them, then I say "enough!"
Our own parents never had to deal with parenting in an online world. We are pioneers, blazing our way through this new uncharted territory. These days, when we are called out about something, it is usually on some type of social media. People will say the most horrendous things to another human being when they are typing it, rather than speaking it face to face.
While I'm growing it every day, my skin is still somewhat thin on the parenting front.
Maybe that should be the test that we use in our online discussions. If this mom or dad was standing directly in front of me and we were having this conversation, would I say it to their face? And if it's something very hurtful and you still think that you would say it, then maybe it's time to do a little soul-searching to see if you are a person who builds others up or tears them down. Because that's what we are doing with our words. We are tearing people down. Once people see those words in black and white, they can't unsee them. I have had to work at learning to let things slide off my back so that I don't slip into believing some of the awful things that have been said about me. And I know in my heart that they aren't true. But they can still hurt.
So truly, unless a child is in real danger, no parent has the right to call out another parent in such a way. In a way that throws little proverbial spears right into everything they hold sacred. I've come to realize that I've earned the right to parent as I choose. I've pushed my babies out my... oh, wait... nope. I had a C-section. And my second C-section was planned. I had no desire to try for a V-bac (vaginal birth after C-section). Cue angry readers here. And yes I had an obstetrician instead of a midwife. I preferred to give birth in a hospital with a doctor. I'm sure that will offend someone to the point of raging at me. I also waited to feed my kids solids until six months. There will be people in a huff because they started earlier... or later.
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And what about things like "crying it out", co-sleeping, or being a working mom/stay-at-home mom? All of these can be polarizing issues. But can you begin to see how petty it can be to name call a parent for the decisions they've made about their own child? And yet each of these things listed can bring out strong reactions (in moms particularly). And it's okay to have a strong reaction about how I parent versus how you parent. But it's not OK to call me a horrible mom. It's time that we started having each other's backs. And at the very least, just agreeing to disagree when thoughtful discussion of our differences is not possible.
Bottom line, if you parent completely differently that I do? You are not a horrible parent. Even though we don't parent the same way. I bet you are actually a pretty darn good parent. Because you are doing you. What works best for your family. And I am doing me. And guess what? I'm a pretty darn good parent too. And the only ones who are actually qualified to judge me on my parenting skills are 11 and eight and they say I'm the best mom in the world.
So rather than jumping all over each other, let's engage in thoughtful discussions. Let's try not to attack each other's parenthood. Let's have each other's backs. Because if you love your kids, then I bet you're doing a pretty great job with them. (And don't deserve to have that questioned.) So the next time you see someone say something on social media that makes your blood boil, take a breath, a deep one, and feel free to comment and even disagree, but let's try to keep the "you suck" type comments to a minimum. Because on the other side of the computer is a real-life parent who despite their different opinion, is just trying to muddle through this whole parenting gig. Like we all are.
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