If you’ve been a mom for more than 5 minutes, I guarantee that you have felt judged by another mom for some kind of parenting practice you have chosen. I know I have. And honestly, despite my best efforts, I know there have been times that I have questioned moms for some of their parenting choices too. Why do we do this instead of supporting ALL moms? We certainly could all benefit from that, couldn’t we?
Since the birth of my first son, I have come to believe that parenting is more of an art than a science. It is more about discovering what works for each mom and child versus getting stuck in rigid ways of thinking that leave no room for the varying needs and demands of different children.
Over my last 7 years as a mom, my goal of keeping my children healthy and happy has remained the same, and so have some of my parenting practices. But some have also changed based on the different personalities of my sons. And this has been a blessing in disguise because it has helped me support moms who are choosing a different parenting method than myself.
We should all support one another as moms instead of judging one another in motherhood. We are all just trying to do our best to keep our child healthy and happy (as well as ourselves). So, here are 4 tips for how we all can support moms no matter what their parenting style may be.
4 Tips for Supporting Moms
1. Her body is different than yours.
I think we sometimes forget that just because another mother does something just like we do, her body may have a different experience. I constantly hear mothers who chose natural childbirth promote why it is better. Their body recovered well from it and it was a positive experience. My body was just the opposite. I had the hardest delivery when having my first son naturally and had easier and more joyful birth experiences when getting epidurals. I am the only one who knows the experience of my body and I support women who choose and promote natural childbirth. But I know that I did not like it for my body.
2. Her baby is different than yours.
Babies are NOT the same. I know this sounds obvious, but I think we sometimes forget just how different they are when we begin questioning another mom. “Why does she never sit that baby down?” Or “Why does she feed that baby all of the time?”
I have had a fussy baby that cried every time he was sat down and never slept and I have had a baby that was naturally content and slept so much I thought there was a sleep problem. My first baby made it very difficult to try and focus on anything more than getting him to nap (regardless of when or where that was!) My other son allowed me to focus on a schedule and getting baby to self soothe on his own. His personality naturally made it easy to do this. Some babies do not. So unless you are working with her baby, judge not.
3. Her lifestyle is different than yours.
Do you work and your friend stays at home? Do you stay at home and she works? Does she have family in town to help? Does she have a supportive partner? So many factors affect the decisions that go into parenting. It’s easy for us to look at another women and assume we understand her lifestyle, but unless you are her, you probably do not.
She may seem like she has a supportive partner when in fact, her partner may refuse to help her with the baby in the middle of the night. So she chooses to switch from breastfeeding to formula in order to get him to help. Or a mom may work all day and prefer her kids to sleep in bed with her because that is the only time she sees them. You may not understand why she is okay with this, but that’s okay. Because you don’t have to. It works for her. And that is what matters!
4. Her personality is different than yours.
What makes one mom stressed may make another mom happy. Some moms are more stressed from knowing they are not getting sleep and can tolerate their child crying themselves to sleep each night. Other moms are more stressed from hearing the crying and would rather just get up and soothe the baby and sacrifice the sleep. Some moms are more worried about laundry than saving money on cloth diapers and some moms are far more worried about keeping to their budget than a few extra loads of laundry. Are you seeing a theme here? We are all different! And that’s wonderful.
So the next time you find yourself wanting to question another mother for her parenting choice, take a moment to get to know her instead. To each her own! See what you might learn from her. You might be surprised. But don’t be surprised when she finds herself learning something from YOU. Supporting moms, whether they are the same or different than you in their choices, is a choice we can all make together.
Cheers to Ending Mommy Wars and Switching to Support!