I don’t hear mothers and fathers actually saying this with the classic and timeless “nah nah na boo boo” voice, but the competition that exists among parents and mothers in particular is significant. It is enough that people throw around the term “mommy wars” to describe tension that exists between and among women in playgroups or online groups. Most of this intensity comes from the sharing of experiences and parenting beliefs or styles.
Since every family is a unique combination of needs, characteristics and personalities, loving parents and healthy children will take many forms. On top of that are the all choices we have and the constraints we live under in the day to day. I don’t want to judge others or be judged. I want to build strong, positive community that supports all parents in finding and following their intuition when it comes to their children and their lives.
Bring Birth Home wrote this post that provides an entertaining overview of Attachment Parenting (AP) and Natural Living and Parenting (NLP), as well as some great discussion about mommy wars. The post and comments had me thinking. I wrote the following comment.
I am sure as the owner of the blog and this FB group you experience more of this negativity than I do, and for that I am both sorry and grateful.
1. thank you for working to make this a safe space, and a respectful space. it is good and good learning for us all.
2. as you may know from my own recent blogpost on humility and togetherness, these things are at the forefront of my mind currently. i am striving to have people actually feel what i intend when i speak and act — the space i want to create for them to come into the discussion. http://alivingfamily.com/2011/04/03/on-humility-and-togetherness/
HERE IS MY PROBLEM: no matter how much effort i take to keep my opinions to myself about what other people do as parents and to find the right words to say what i believe and do, no matter how hard i try to be respectful, sometimes i get the feeling (or can tell) that simply by saying my own personal truth people the person i am talking to is hurt, offended, defensive or even angry. it feels as though my sharing is bad but their sharing is acceptable. the only difference i can see is in the greater social acceptance and knowledge about their parenting practices and beliefs versus mine. this leads to the next….
3. now that i have been thinking about things for a while and you added your two cents to the mix, i am having some other thoughts. i am thinking about the way that even with a mix of AP and NLP and whatever feels right and good to us, that i have to fight the urge to shut down sometimes when someone shares about a tough hospital birth or shares their cry it out success story. i don’t feel immediately comfortable and welcomed to say that i had a phenomenal homebirth or that i am a little tired because we cosleep and my little one was nursing a lot or restless. maybe this lack of welcome is what others are feeling when i share my experience.
i am now wondering if the real problem is that it is not ok to share…..for some reason. is that possible? why would that be? because it definitely seems true. there is not a generally accepted and expected way of sharing mother stories or parenting ideas in open and honest ways, both about the hard and the wonderful experiences we are having. it does seem the expectation is that there’s an answer and some of us are supposed to have it. which one of us is it? ….. obviously no one has it. that is the point.
OR, last thing — is it the classic wondering if we are “good (enough)” mothers? and we can prove that if we somehow know something or did something “right?” i hope not, but seeing how own my mother’s good enough guilt continues to touch us both into the next stage of both of our lives i better dig deep on that one…..
i don’t know, but it’s too dizzying. i just want some honest conversation so we can all learn from and grow with and support each other. i think at some point we are going to have to consider an intellectual debate/conversation as separate from a personal conversation, though. otherwise, it seems difficult and emotionally challenging to have both at the same time. perhaps parenting is just too personal to not consciously separate the philosophical discussion. is that even possible or desireable?