Birthing: Natural vs. Epidural vs. C Sections vs. Induction
Baby Sleeping: Co-sleeping vs. Crib with or without bumper pads vs. The Swing
Feeding: Breast feeding vs. Supplementing vs. Donated breast milk vs. Formula
Immunization: Immunizations vs. No Immunizing vs. Delayed or Selective immunizing
Chances are you have opinions on many of the aforementioned topics.
Chances are someone you know has a different opinion about the same issue.
Chances are you think you are the one who is right.
I know I usually do.
And that’s not necessarily a problem.
I personally think it is fine to supplement or formula feed because I have medical problems with breastfeeding but it may not be the best thing for other moms and babies.
Just because I wouldn’t want a home water birth doesn’t mean it isn’t right for others. I love to swim and be in water, so I can see how it would be calming and relaxing.
I liked to put my son down on occasion. I had him swing in his swing, bounce in his bouncy chair, or lay on a mat for some tummy time. That doesn’t mean I was wrong to not baby wear him. But my second baby has to be worn all the time. Each baby is different, and what was right for one might not be right for another.
And just because some moms do the cry-it-out method with their children earlier than I would doesn’t mean it didn’t work for them and their kids.
What works for some, may not work for others. I understand this. Many women I talk to understand this. So why don’t a vast majority of mothers out there understand it? Why can’t we understand that there are many different ways and styles to birth, parent, and raise our children?
I think we judge each other because we want to think we are doing it right or that we did it the right way.
I’ll be the first to say there is actually a moral right and a wrong. However, I have noticed we are not often judging others based on a moral standard, but rather, based on preferences. A lot of these highly controversial issues are just that: Preferences.
My friend once told me that her dad said, “It’s good to be somewhat open minded. Just don’t be SO open minded that your brains fall out.”
I love that saying. And I came up with another similar saying: “It’s good to be somewhat closed minded. Just don’t be SO closed minded that your brain doesn’t have room to think.”
So yes, sometimes there is a right and a wrong. We should not be so open minded that we support or ignore explicitly wrong ways of parenting. Two examples of this are doing drugs while pregnant and, of course, abortion. The choice to kill an unborn child is wrong regardless of personal preference.
Additionally, we shouldn’t be so open minded that we turn a blind eye to child abuse, child abandonment, or chronic neglect of children. Those circumstances I can understand voicing objections to, and I’ll even join in.
But most of the time I hear mothers judging, gossiping, or scrutinizing other great mothers based on the way she prefers to give birth or raise her kids.
The other day I read a blog post (on a different blog) listing multiple things that our mothers did WRONG when raising us.
So apparently people are now judging our OWN mothers for how they raised us?
In the comment section there was an older woman who said something to the effect of, “We were doing what modern day medicine and society were telling us to do. How would you feel if in 25 years everything you were taught as the ‘right and safe way’ to raise your kids was actually termed dangerous, stupid, and wrong and you were blamed for it?”
She has a great point. What if we were all told 25 years down the road that swaddling a baby was bad, that tummy time caused premature spinal issues, and that laying the baby on its back caused brain problems?
“Well, that won’t happen,” you say. Medical studies have PROVEN those things are safe.
Time has told that perhaps it could happen. Because that’s exactly what happened to our moms and probably what happened to their moms too.
They were told years later they were WRONG in how they raised their children. “How could they be so stupid?” people may ask. They should’ve known that laying their babies on their stomachs to sleep was a huge no-no. That bumper pads (that were supposed to protect their babies) are now considered a death trap for newborns, and that formula wasn’t as healthy as breast milk.
The point is medical advancements, discoveries, and opinions are always changing. What is right now may very well be WRONG in the future. But 90% of these discoveries and suggestions on how to give birth or raise your baby aren’t exactly a question of morality, rather they are following the advice, trends, and experts of the day.
I do believe in the progression of scientific research and studies. That said, you can find scientific support, proof, and justification both for AND against many of the ‘hot topics’ on birthing and parenting. So I’m just saying that many more times than not the child will survive and be healthy and happy being raised the way the mother feels is best.
There are tons of different situations that may make one mother right about a certain way she chooses to raise her child…
Some kids are allergic to peanuts, others have lactose intolerance, others can eat whatever they like. Some are gluten intolerant, and others fructose intolerant. Maybe some unfortunate children have many of these issues and have only a handful of items they can safely eat. When we look at what a mother is feeding her child, why do many jump to conclusion that she is feeding them the ‘WRONG’ types of foods?
Lets open our mind up a little and think: maybe she is a good mother and she knows what is best.
After all, who do you think loves that child more? The woman who is judging? Or the mother?
Let’s open our minds a little when a woman we overhear mentions to her friends that she has to be induced. Maybe she has gestational diabetes; maybe her pregnancies are high-risk; maybe she has had other children and they had to be induced to get into the world as well. Or perhaps she has to travel long distances to get to her hospital. Maybe she just doesn’t want to have her child on Christmas Day. Any of these may be perfectly reasonable and right for her… if it isn’t right for you, don’t do it.
Let’s have some compassion on the woman who is feeding her child formula because heck its about $200-$300 more a month than the breast milk… and maybe, just maybe, she has physical limitations and can’t breastfeed.
Why not think twice before voicing disgust that a friend/recent mother of a 3-month-old still won’t take her baby out in public to meet you for lunch… because we all know the baby is old enough to come outside already! Have we taken the time to think, ask, or listen to see if the baby has a condition that the mom hasn’t told us about? Do we know if the mother is suffering from Post Partum Depression and perhaps can’t function fully? Do we know if there are other reasons why the baby and mom can’t venture out to meet us for an overpriced salad?
How about we stop judging the mother who uses a stroller rather than a carrier or wrap. Maybe she has a herniated disc, maybe she doesn’t have the money or means to buy a comfortable baby carrier, or maybe she prefers to push her child rather than carry her baby on her.
What about children and TV, the brand of car seat used, immunization preferences, and/or if the mother is perhaps less of a ‘helicopter parent’ than we think she should be?
Can’t we put some of these opinions aside and celebrate motherhood together?
We are all different. We are all unique. But we (the majority of all mothers) have one thing in common…
… the love we have for our children.
Why don’t we open our minds a little and give them room to think through some vast and different possibilities and scenarios before boxing a mother into a category: irresponsible, too trendy, too granola, old-school, helicopter parent, etc.
Mothers have been doing this job for centuries and it’s tough. It’s tough enough that we don’t need scrutiny, judging, or hatred from each other.
With so many abortions going on today, why can’t we celebrate any mother brave enough and selfless enough to give birth, love, and rear a precious child?
And it IS okay to think you are right about the way you choose to mother. It’s also okay to seek out information and advice on how to become a better mother.
Personally, I am usually looking for ways, advice, and help on how to become a better mom. No one is perfect, so I understand that in some areas I do need to get better or ask for help or advice. But sometimes the advice I receive just doesn’t work for my child and me. Other times, it’s exactly right for us. Not everything is a good fit for every mom and child.
It’s okay to change how you mother if you discover that something mainstream, hip, or trendy is actually a great way for you to be a mom. It’s also okay to reject a lot of the ‘motherhood trends’ or even personal advice that you are presented with. Do what works for you and your children and let the negative comments roll off you like water on a duck’s back…
Because the vast majority of us are excellent at mothering.
Unfortunately, the place that many of us fall short in motherhood is when we believe our way is the only ‘right’ way to parent and vocally force it on to others. We fall short when we fail to support, rejoice, and appreciate other women who are selflessly sacrificing their time, money, and talents to bring beautiful souls into the world and mother them in love the best they can.
So I encourage you to follow your mind and heart in motherhood. Do what you think is right. But please in return, don’t doubt and judge other moms for doing the same.
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I love this! One thing I would add is the judgement from myself. I always find myself telling myself, “oh you’ll never do that.” But sure enough, it’s already happened. I was 100% sure I would NEVER co-sleep. Sometimes the baby has a different opinion. Most mothers thoughts are, “just don’t let them co-sleep.” Until you are in fact living the reality of a child who refuses to sleep unless they are next to you, I say you don’t have the right to judge. BE GRATEFUL that you can do or not do certain things. Not judgemental because other mothers do things differently.
Anita you are wonderful! Thanks for sharing.
Anita Fowler says
Karly- Good thoughts! It’s so important to have compassion towards oneself. I too find myself doing things I thought I wouldn’t. & you are totally right that it is a great idea to also not judge others incase you find yourself doing exactly what you were judging others about. Thanks for the comment!
I agree! With my first, we didn’t co-sleep because she did fine in her little bassinet and crib. But my 2nd NEEDED to be close to Mommy and slept like a dream…IF she was in my bed. It didn’t last forever (only a few months actually) and we successfully transitioned her to her own bed, but I had tremendous guilt and even embarrassment about it for the longest time. I had to get over it. It was best for our child, best for our family. And because we knew it was just a season and wouldn’t last forever, it didn’t damage our marriage (or any of the other silly things I heard.)
This is THE best article I’ve read in a long time.
Anita Fowler says
Thanks Rachel! I really appreciate that!
YES YES YES! Thank you for sharing this. This is exactly what I’ve been thinking for a *long* time. You hit the nail on the head with the preferences vs. morality issues point…so much of what the Mommy wars are about is just preferences. It’s ok to completely own my personal decisions and choices in the way I raise my children AND accept and support your choices in how you raise your own children.
Anita Fowler says
Thanks so much! It’s so nice to hear that you’ve been thinking about it and relate to the article too!
I just wondered…
You say you had medical issues around breast feeding, and I’m sorry to hear that, but how much thought have you given to medical reasons for abortion?
Not only in the cases most people think of if the baby has medical problems, but also what about if being pregnant is threatening the life of the mother? When it comes to a life or death situation, I’m sure it isn’t up to us to be judgemental in either our preferences OR our morality. Surely it is up to each individual in that case to live freely with what ever choice they are forced to make without any judgement of any form from any one.
Anita Fowler says
JK- Killing an innocent life is much MUCH different than using formula instead of breast milk. I don’t believe in abortion. I would give my life for the baby I’m carrying before killing it. Further, the vast majority of abortions are done because of convenience, embarrassment, shame, etc. You are welcome to your own interpretation of what is right and wrong. For me (and most of humanity) killing an innocent life is wrong.
well, it sounds to me like you are being a little judgmental. Some husbands would rather terminate a pregnancy than lose their wife. Good for you that you would never, ever have an abortion, but it is definitely not up to you make anybody’s choice for them.
Anita Fowler says
Mary- less than 2% of abortions are done for the life of the mother. Over 1 million are performed in the US every year. The fact that women kill their own offspring is WRONG… call it what you like but as I said there is a definite right and wrong on this matter and abortion is wrong.
I get what you’re saying here Anita… and I sort of agree with you… But if a woman decides to have an abortion she probably didn’t come across that decision lightly. There may be some women who abort for convenience, but you don’t know each woman’s individual situation. I imagine that many abortions are done for the reasons you state, for example feeling shame or the inability to care for a child or being pressured into it. But then I would dare to say that issues such as societal shame, mental illness, poverty and the opinions of others are the motivators and perhaps those issues need more thought if they are a root cause. I love this article that you wrote but when you called out abortion as flat out wrong it did seem judgemental to me.
I personally don’t have any answers to abortion… I haven’t had an abortion and never want to have one. I’m pregnant right now for the first time and it was planned. But I’m really fortunate to have had a good upbringing and a good life. I find that as I get older I feel just a little more against abortion… But I think I come from a place of privilege and I do not want to judge other women for the choices they make.
Some women get so desperate when it comes to abortions that they hurt themselves greatly trying to do self-abortions or they might even hide their pregnancies and then kill their newborns. I read about one woman who flushed her newborn down a toilet and another who left her new baby on the vehicle of a neighbor, assuming it would be found. Those stories are truly horrifying and the babies suffered. At least if women have access to safe and nonjudmengtal abortions, they can move on with their lives and hopefully learn something from their painful experiences. Give it some thought.
Anita Fowler says
Thanks for your comment. I can understand your perspective but I have given it a lot of thought and it is really too bad that such a serious trend (1.5 million babies in America are killed by abortion each year) is often defended.
Once you have your first and you see what a huge blessing a baby is, how innocent they are, how amazing the human body and reproductive powers are, how strong a parent-baby bond is, perhaps you will gain a stronger belief that killing innocent life is wrong.
One thing that perplexes me is that there is a fine for $250,000 to steal/take an Eagle egg… yet abortions are done in many instances for ‘free’ through government aid. Something is very wrong with society when it makes killing it’s own kind easy and acceptable.
Further, studies do show that abortions are especially harmful psychologically to the mother and often the father of the unborn baby. It is definitely not something I would ever want to live with, nor wish on my worst enemy. Knowing you have killed a precious life is insanely difficult to deal with overtime (especially when/if the women has children later on and realizes how special the love of a mother is, when she allows her offspring to live).
So thank you for your kind comment, rest assured that I have done extensive research and thinking about abortion and its different excuses but my moral compass will not be changed.
I’m not a mother yet, but i really enjoyed reading your article! Many of my friends and my older sister have kids by now, and I am seeing how this “preferences” and opinions ruin long term friendships and have a huge effect on young mother’s mental state. Instead of support and help from one another, most of the women I know quite well, often judge and judge and judge even some minor things, like what stroller brand is better and why. My sister has a newborn and a 2 year old. When the first child was 8 or 9 months old, some of her friends began telling her that it was time to look for a nanny and go back to work, unless she wants to become a housewife ( something you should be utterly avoiding to become in their circle of people). She was still breastfeeding and co-sleeping ( something she didn’t intend to do , but as a first time mother she learned many things along the way). Then, she got pregnant again and even the closest friends were very skeptical about her parenthood approach. Thank God, both kids are healthy and happy and my sister was even able to get some work done from her home. But, as she often admits, now she only has one friend with a child, with whom they can talk about kids without getting too close to “hot” topics. I can tell that it upsets her, how other people try to make their suggestions , not always in a polite or kind manner. So, I was just wondering: don’t young mothers have enough stress with all the new things that come with a baby? Why do we, women, make everything so much harder for each other? Why we keep raising some imaginary standards for womanhood, motherhood, so high, that it’s unhealthy? Let’s just relax a little and remember that every family is different and we are not competing for a Best Mother title , because for your own child you are and always will be the best.
Anita Fowler says
Thanks so much for this meaningful comment. I totally agree. I’m really sorry about what your sister has had to go through. I hope she can find some truer friends! and Yes, motherhood is tough enough to make it more difficult by judging and complaining and nitpicking. Thanks again!
I’m so glad that I “stumbled” onto your article in Pinterest. You are so right, we need not to judge, but support each other. I have a hard time with not judging a couple of family friends that believe that immunizations are harmful to their children. I get so frustrated with that notion, as I believe that not giving your child vaccines is more harmful.
I guess WE ALL NEED to realize is that as easily as we can find fault in someone else, we too have been judged as well, and if we knew about it, we would have been quick to defend our decision. We all need to be their for other moms, Like you said Anita, we don’t know what there battles are. What a great article!
Anita Fowler says
Thank you! I really appreciate that. Yes it is so easy to judge and I find myself struggling with it too. Believe it or not writing this has helped me remember this principal as well. We all think we are right and as long as we are truly doing the best and raising our children in love and the way we feel is right, that is what is most important. Thanks again!
This article hits the nail on the head! We’re just beginning to try to conceive and I have already been told I’ll be a horrible mom if I choose not to breastfeed for any reason other than medical issues (and that would be smugly pitied). Truthfully, I do have medical issues that might or might not be a problem, but frankly, I’m just not sure I want to breastfeed. We haven’t decided what we’ll do since we aren’t expecting yet, but my Nellie! At one point, I had five women sitting around me, all but in my face, enumerating the ways I would be a selfish, conceited being if I didn’t try to breastfeed.
I agree with you about abortion. When I am asked my opinion and I give it, I have found that the first person to make it personal and tell me to keep out of her uterus is the first person to stick her opinion onto my breasts. Tolerance seems to go only one way: you don’t agree with me, you don’t say anything/I don’t agree with you, I say what I want.
Anita Fowler says
Thanks Tammy! I appreciate your comment!
Anita, it’s not like I think abortion is something to be taken lightly. The difference between an eagle egg and a human egg is that eagles were an endangered species until 2007 while humans are overpopulating and destroying this beautiful planet. You know, the one that God gave us? That’s why I’m going to have only one child. I have no doubt that my child will bring me joy and astonish me everyday. I thought of you when I saw this article on Jezebel titled “State Senator Looks At Topless Pics During Abortion Debate” and I had to share. Apparently he was just too bored to participate in the debate. Politicians don’t actually care about abortion, they just make policies to get voters. And politicians shouldn’t determine what a woman does with her body.
Anita, Thank you for this! I try and learn from my mistakes and other mothers all the time, but I never learn from a fellow mother who talks at me with her nose up in the air and tells me that I’m threatening her child’s health by not immunizing my own. It doesn’t convince me that I need to vaccinate my children. If another mother wants to share their own discoveries with me of studies that she has found on the subject that would be more helpful and respectful. There are a lot of women out there that over-judge other moms and destroy relationships because of it. All mothers should unite and help each other instead of bullying and shaming. I completely agree with you on the abortion subject. I had an abortion 11 years ago and it still haunts me today. When I was 19 I was unaware of the seriousness behind it. I do agree with the subject of we shouldn’t tell someone what they can and can’t do, but it is ridiculous that my son’s birth cost $30,000 and the abortion I had cost me nothing but a scarred mental state. I was astounded to read in the comments that someone actually thinks abortion is okay because our world is over populated… Seriously? Okay then it wouldn’t matter if someone came into your house and murdered your family right? Because then we’d be helping our planet! Oh, and of course you and your family wouldn’t have to suffer right? You could just be killed quickly…. Oh my, some of these comments are absurd… Sorry for the graphic detail. Anyways, I understood the meaning behind your post and I thank you for it. I shared it to my facebook and hope the other mothers I know read it. I think thanks to these comments I might head myself into some abortion clinics and see if I can educate some women/girls in a positive non-judgmental way. Thank you again Anita!
Anita Fowler says
Erika- Thank you for your amazing comment. I really appreciate your insight into your past and that you were able to share it with us and confirm what I had only imagined as I have not experienced it first-hand. Yes it is totally ridiculous that your son’s birth cost 30k and your abortion cost nothing. Something is seriously wrong with that! You are right when other moms are judgemental and try to convince others of what they know to be the better way it hardly does any good and it alienates a potentially great friendship. Thanks so much this is one of the best comments I’ve ever had on my blog EVER, please feel free to stop by again!