Indeed, this post is all about cats and dogs, judges and the judged…(and I’ll lay it on the line here, I’ve sometimes been pretty much both without even realising it). Parents have never been so conscious about raising tiny humans. Are we doing the best for them? Have we read the last research article on ‘breast is best’? Do we have what it takes to get the best school in town? Are the piano lessons and swimming classes perfectly synchronised!? These are the kind of questions which I’ve noticed have the immense power to divide a group of mums into three main categories:
- the angrily surprised mums who can’t believe these silly questions dare crossing your mind
- the bragging mums who wouldn’t stop telling you all about their personal experiences (and more)
- and the puzzled mums who quietly listen and nod along to all others’ categorical parental dos and don’ts, but who wouldn’t be scared either to do a little judging during those sobbing antagonising moments.
Just wait until your toddler has a fiery tantrum in a public space then wait for some slightly unsubtle whispering voices on what they may call it poor parenting skills. Sometimes you can even hear a very unsubtle voice sharing some thoughts with another witnessing gal of how she would’ve coped better with the tricky situation. Or a braver one, mother or not, suggesting what drastic measures to take in order to stop the crying, blubbering and yelling bundles on the very long term.
Nonetheless my thoughts are that wars start when parents, who tend to fall under the main four types of parenting styles psychologists love so much to talk about, have a clash of opinions even though none may be right and none may be wrong:
nurturing, affective, setting boundaries,
discipline through guidance, open communication
strict, inflexible, high expectations,
punishes rather than disciplines, ‘tiger mum’
nurturing, affectionate, few or inconsistent boundaries,
takes the role of friend rather than parent
emotionally detached, self-absorbed, inconsistent
or no boundaries, little interaction
From all those mums feeling smug about their parenting decisions to all mums feeling often tormented, guilty and unhappy, yet wearing the biggest grin on their face while judging each other, here’s the 12 war topics that we continue to spend so much emotional energy on…
1. The ‘no pain, no gain’ vs pain free
Or Caesarian vs natural, add home birth believers and the list can go on and on…This is probably one of the main most intense topics new mums can spend hours, days, even years trying to push forward their impressions based on their own unique experience. But hey, at the end of the day when you go home and get lost in cuddling and nuzzling, who cares how this tiny human of yours made an entrance into this wide world of critics and windbags?
2. The ‘breast is best’ vs the bottle battle
Breastfeeding has been a hot topic for a while now and I found out that the subject itself has even divided opinions among mothers on whether to retreat to an intimate place or encourage breastfeeding in public and be a brave example for other mums. Yes, it’s mums too who judge other mums on how and where they should breastfeed. Add some wicked comments of some boasting breastfeeding mums on the bottle feeders, how dare they refuse their babies the healthiest start in life? Without thinking much about each individual’s circumstances, often running into women who don’t have the ability to do it for various sound reasons…
Ania Pawleta Photography
3. The sleep trainers vs co-sleepers
‘Is your baby still sleeping with guys? But he’s almost two!’. Or ‘let them cry, they’ll be fine!’. ‘My mother left me sleep on my own since I was two months and I turned out just fine!’. ‘A good selfless parent allows children to stay over until they are teenagers’. And the list of things I’ve heard so far continues (and I’m sure you heard yourself some pretty amazing sleeping stories!). But does it really matter what the other is doing, is there any benefit in judging their parenting choices when you have your own that already works for you? And if it’s not working and looking for sleeping tips, other mums’ experience stories can be full of wise tips, but don’t forget we are all friends here…
4. The stay at home vs the meal ticket
Huge debate indeed, add here disputes on when you should be returning to work…Rarely we take the time to understand each other’s lifestyle’s challenges and needs, instead we jump criticising the one that does things differently. Is it fair to the baby to return to work after only 4 months of maternity leave? Is it worthier to stay at home and look after the family’s domestic and education needs? Whatever your decision, we should all pay more attention to what we do for ourselves rather than critising what what others are doing for their family.
5. The early educators vs the postponers
Vs home schooling even. Nursery, child minder or babysitter for your three months old baby? Or nursery when the child is older, let’s say three? Your call really, mums will always have different opinions on this depending on their own needs, yet less criticising would do us well. It’s one of the most frequent conversations I keep hearing almost every day at playgrounds and sometimes mums can’t be more bickering to each other more often than you’d think…No need, mums, find the system that works for you and kindly share your opinion…
6. Age gap vs no gap strifes
Even vs only child or more. When it comes to siblings mums have all sorts of fun theories. Do it all fast, have all children one after another as time flies and later it may become more difficult. Or the opposite, having a longer gap may do things slightly easier, anyhow, mums keep disagreeing on this subject, I hope we take the time to understand that different things work for different family situations…I’d love for example, another one, despite all this lack of sleep which is a killer sometimes, but my circumstances are not the most favourable right now: my family is not close enough to help out, I’m trying to build a business on my own, my partner is working crazy hours, gave up a great job with a steady paycheck, childcare cost gone through the roof etc. And each of us has a story worth listening to before judging…
7. Farmers’ market vs McDonald’s mums
And every other rather permissive or stricter type in between! It would be fair to elaborate a bit though: either you are part of the food police mums group or you’re the health seeking relaxed mum (gmo, organic, free range, gluten free, sugar free may be your favourite food vocabulary shopping words…) vs eat anything & everything mum, it’s your decision on how you want to raise a family. Maybe not becoming too obsessed with what’s written on each can of goods, but avoiding as much as possible those chemicals and nasties wouldn’t make you the clumsiest mum alive…
8. Bragger mum: early walkers vs early talkers
Aka my kid is cooler than yours. Oh yes, this is by far my favourite!! Have you ever noticed how many mums tend to brag about their children’s early development every time there is a conversation walking or talking related? Which can be sweet and nice up to one point. But as this doesn’t usually stop here, it goes far to who’s the smartest kid on the playground, how the genes are helping out and all that extra care is taken when it comes to fine education. It’s all good, mums, brag all you can, but don’t make the others feel there’s something wrong with their kid, it simply doesn’t work like this. And taking credit for a baby’s independent development is like me taking credit for sending a satellite onto the space. I didn’t really have much to do with it, except maybe for sending lots of good thoughts 🙂
9. Vaccination vs no vaccination
Even this subject gets complicated as there are now different vaccinations that are not as ‘dangerous’ as the NHS recommended ones. I will not say my opinion, as this article is not really about sharing my own personal experience, but our all experiences and thoughts that clash quite often. It’s a big decision and I am sure every mum is carefully doing her homework while wasting good nighs’ sleep over whether to do it or not. Continue to research on it but don’t forget there are specialists and researchers who could answer your questions. When another mum is strongly trying to impose her opinion and meddle in your affairs don’t let her make you feel like you’re wrong when seeking for other answers.
10. The OCD vs the messy learner
I know both types of mums, the ones who are cleaning freaks and the bacteria lover mums (and surprisingly, less relaxed mums somewhere in between these two extremes). Guess which type I am ;). However what I don’t happen to enjoy much is the gossip mum who goes into another crib and then starts criticising her parenting skills. It does happen more often that you imagine. Not cool, not cool…Motherhood is not the easiest job and some days multitasking can be a tricky business.
11. Private vs public
Parents want to do their best for their children. Some go the extra mile, others remain slightly relaxed and often they analyse things though their own childhood experience. Some though seem to enjoy being a little vocal about how the extra mile would be making a difference when it comes to the child’s education development and how everyone should make this as a priority and go private or get them in the very best public schools. Again, remember we all have different backgrounds and expectations, be more understanding, being a parent is not the easiest journey…
12. North Pole vs the Ecuador
Now I am not completely sure if all of you have experienced this, but I get told off quite often by other mums (or get some subtle suggestions) when it comes to the way I dress my child. Many think there should be more layers, maybe a hood under a hat and a warm thick scarf wrapped tightly around his neck and two warm jackets if possible (at 25 degrees!). It does happen especially when I am going abroad on holidays, but sometimes even the playgrounds here are not exactly the friendliest places around and some mums like to share their opinion quite loudly. I never told a mum her child is dressed like an eskimo even though I must admit it crossed my mind and maybe I even stared a little bit as the thermometer was showing above 20 degrees but I am sure she knows her child better…
There are so many other subjects which make mums clash: potty training right timing, what to do and not to do when the children feel poorly, how to manage teething, fever etc etc, but I am waiting for you guys to let me know the challenges you are facing when it comes to other opinionated mums (even mum friends), or sometimes, without realising you may be one of them (like surprisingly I found myself).
Emma Donoghue said something clever in an article for the Guardian as she suspects today’s parents’ self conciousness of raising children may be related to a low birth rate. The more I think about and research I do, the more I tend to share her view; our parents don’t seem to have been too worried about which buggy is best to use or car seat to choose. So the less children we have, the more focus we put on them…
So, cool mums with witty bundles, it’s now your turn to spill the beans and share your story…
If thirsty for more creative fun ways to enjoy motherhood and its perks, follow Allmumstalk Facebook page or you can get lots of colourful ideas from my Instagram #allmumstalk (I’m such an Instagram junkie!). Cool mums tweet, so throw at me your tips if braver (#allmumstalkhere)! 😉
Motherhood can be beautifully challenging yet tough. Good news, we’re all in this together!