From talk shows and parenting magazines, to baby gurus and even the 50-year-old childless guy in front of you in the grocery store, everyone seems to have an opinion about how you should raise your kids. There’s attachment parenting, authoritative parenting, helicopter moms, tiger moms, elephant moms and well... you get the idea. Parenting has been so fractionalized and polarized that even if you do feel strongly about your parenting style, it's hard to know where you stand.
But why is parenting such a hot-button issue? Perhaps it’s because, of all the things we will do in our adult lives, parenting is one of the most consequential. Our parenting decisions don’t just affect us -- they affect the lives of living, breathing little people who depend on us. They affect the future of the next generation. They affect the future of the world in which we live.
But even without the pressure of social responsibility, parenting is hard enough. Children are not born with instruction manuals and even the most concerned, sensitive parent is going to make mistakes along the way.
In the uncharted territory of new motherhood, it can be easy to feel confused and disoriented by all the conflicting advice you will receive. Is breast really best? Will my baby be in danger if I decide to co-sleep? Am I a bad mom if I can’t get my baby to stop crying? It’s not uncommon for new moms to feel overwhelmed when faced with the crushing responsibility of raising another human being.
If you are feeling pressured and judged about your parenting, here are some ways to cope:
While some books and magazines can have a judgmental tone, the abundance of material available on parenting is a bonus to modern parents. Take time to read up on different parenting styles, methods and techniques and discover what appeals to you and your family.
Remember that parenting is a work in progress. As you learn and grow, you may discover new methods that work better than what you are currently using. Don’t be afraid to change. The best parent is the one who can accept her mistakes, make changes and move forward with grace and love.
Parenting is personal. How you parent is highly influenced by many factors -- including your own upbringing, peer groups, lifestyle, education and popular culture, among other things. Once you’ve found a parenting style that works for you, stand proud. Don’t feel the need to compare yourself to your friends, parents or anyone else. If anyone questions you or criticizes your choices, don’t be afraid to stand up for your beliefs.
The mommy wars have reached their boiling point. It’s time to put an end to pressurized parenting. We are all doing our very best to be good parents. We are all more than enough. Be the parent you want to be and honor the parents around you with tolerance and acceptance. Imagine how much more we could grow as parents and as a society if we take the time to listen and learn from one another before we ask, “Are you mom enough?”
It's okay to bow out of a "momversation" that gets too heated. You can remain quiet or simply say, "I feel like parenting is a personal decision and prefer not to argue about this topic with friends I respect and love."
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