This weekend I sat down with a plan laid out in my head for my blog post. I knew exactly what I wanted to write. I’d been reading so many articles that were being shared for World Breastfeeding Week and knew that my blog post wasn’t going to be about the bottle-fed / breast-fed debate, but about the comments underneath these articles. You know the ones, the remarks from formula feeding mothers about how it’s disgusting to feed a child over “x” age; or the ones from the breastfeeding mums saying how we’re “poisoning our babies” by feeding them formula.
I was going to elaborate and talk about how it’s not just feeding choices that provoke this. It reaches out to every parenting decision – whether we co-sleep or not, what age we transfer them to their own room, if we practice CIO, what age we start weaning. Mummy Wars. Judging Mums. Whatever you want to call it, I was going to write about how we all have to stop judging one another and live in harmony raising our babies the way we feel best for us and our family.
But as I was typing I realised that I’ve been guilty of it myself. No I haven’t been publically opinionated with my opinions, or joined in a mummy wars debate; but I’ve certainly sat and silently questioned other people’s actions and decisions in my head or chatted about it to my hubby. I don’t mean to do it. In fact I make a point of trying to never judge anyone else’s decisions. I 100% believe that every mother does what she feels is best for her and her family at any given time. But I know I’ve been guilty of thinking “god I’d never do that” while looking at another parent.
I often feel insecure about making parenting decisions. I want to trust my instincts, but with all the conflicting advice online, in books and from well-meaning family and friends, it can leave me feeling unsure of my decisions. When you’re trying to work out what’s for the best, you often look to others and what they do – either agreeing or disagreeing with their methods. My thoughts are rarely anything to do with the other person, but actually say more about my own anxieties and how I feel about myself.
It’s not just insecurity that causes it. I believe it’s a fear of being judged ourselves. I’m always terrified of other people judging the decisions I’ve made. Recently my mum took a photo of Dylan chomping down into a bit of banana. Being the proud granny I knew she’d want to show it off to people, his first solids being a big milestone. But I asked her not to share it on her Facebook. Why? Because I knew someone would make comment about how we’d started weaning early (the recommended age from the WHO is now 6 months) and I didn’t want to deal with other people’s judgements on it.
I believe that deep down every mum has judged another parent at some stage, perhaps not publically but on some level. It’s human nature. It’s a way of deciding our own parental choices. What’s important to remember is that we’re allowed to have our own thoughts and opinions on what’s best for our child. But at the same time we need to be respectful to other people’s choices. The old saying is true “you can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes”. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. But we all make our choices in the hope of them being the right ones for our children.
Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion on but the hardest thing in the world to do. So let’s make things a little easier on ourselves. Let’s support other mums knowing they are doing their best and if you really feel you can’t support them then I’ll share a little piece of advice that my granny used to say – “if you’ve nothing nice to say then keep it to yourself”.