I’m not a better mother than you.

There is an uncomfortableness I often feel when people ask about the way we live and choose to raise Bella. From no TV (cable/satellite) to natural food, from baby led weaning to cloth diapers. Our decisions have often been the butt of jokes or incredulous stares.

And we’re pretty moderate when it comes to natural parenting. ‘Cause I heart Clorox Wipes. Sam loves bleach. Gerber snacks saved our sanity on the last two trips out of town. And the toilet wand with the throw away scrubbies? That thing and I are like this ::crosses fingers::

However, I notice immediately that there are other moms who get offended/irritated/angry even when I say something about how we parent that differs from them. Although it has nothing to do with them, they are quick to either poke fun at me, or discuss the benefits of their parenting style over mine: “We fed little Johnny regular food and used disposables and he turned out just fine. Never grew an extra arm or anything.”

It’s almost as if some people think that because we live this way, we have a sort of competition going. A one upmanship. That I must consider myself the “better mother” because my kids (apparently) run around naked in (non-genetically modified) wildflowers while eating (organic) clovers and playing with (hormone free) chickens and goats.

And therefore, I must think I win at mothering.

Or deserve some sort of a (lead free) medal.

::snorts::

We raise Bella, and live, the way we are comfortable with. It works for us. Sam and I like natural parenting.

I’m not out to prove anything with how I raise my child. I’m not doing things differently to be stubborn or difficult, to make people feel slighted or that I moved myself up one notch above them on the parenting totem pole. Sam and I live our lives in such a way that natural/attachment parenting just fell into place. For other families, different things work better.

It’s time to all stop judging each other, to stop being offended that a mother still breastfeeds her 3 year old or someone takes their son to McDonalds for a lunch date. Who cares? Why does it matter to us what someone else chooses to do with their life and their children?

And if you are upset, perhaps you should re-evaluate your parenting style or your understanding of theirs. Because if you mock someone for the different choices they’ve made for their family, maybe it’s because you wish you could do it that way.

It happens to me – and I’m trying to turn immediately defending my own choices into a discussion to learn more.

Of course there are issues to fight for; conversations and debates to be had. But one of them shouldn’t be critisizing choices families make for themselves. It’s hard enough as a parent without the methods you use being under scrutiny or ridicule.

I don’t care how you raise or raised your kids. As long as they are happy, healthy and loved – no one should. At the end of this journey, all of us have the same goal. To look at our children, have them love and appreciate us, and know that we did the best we could for them – whatever your personal best may be.


Comments

  1. I could have written this exact blog. AMEN! I get scoffs all the time and definitely people thinking that I think I’m better than they are because of the way that I choose to do things. I don’t think I’m better than they are, I KNOW I am…Just kidding. I don’t think that at ALL. I’m passionate about the way I parent and I try to educate myself well on both sides of the equation so that when my decisions are challenged, I have answers. Just because I have answers, again, does not mean that I think I’m “better” than you, it simply means that I have chosen a certain path based on the knowledge that I’ve acquired. One of my goals for the up and coming year is to not let others’ negativity affect me negatively and a lot of the negativity I’m referring to is due to my parenting decisions and the flack that I get about it from people.

    • That is a great goal – and I love that you educate yourself so that you have answers. That is something I’ve been working on too – why I do what I do.

  2. I find that the people I interact with in person…I rarely know these sort of choices. When we started CD (even though we’ve since stopped), I was shocked to realize a handful of my friends did the same. I find that our friendships flow better because we never make those topics, and because of that they never become issues of judgment on either side. I am choosing to take this route with my friendships online. Because how they raise their kid isn’t the reason I like people.

    • This is a great comment and I would have to agree with you. My real friends and I don’t even sit down and discuss our different parenting techniques! The only folks who have ever made comments about what I feed my son, etc. are folks I don’t even know too well.

    • Amen. It’s like talking about politics with family – it never ends up making everyone happy.

  3. Excellent post. I find strengths in every parenting style! I like to say I practice the “wing it” method… Learn all I can but in the end I do what works for me :)

  4. Diana, I feel exactly the same way… If it is not commenting cause yes, I am STILL breastfeeding my 14 month (and do not intend on stopping until she chooses), or that we do not let her eat pizza at a party, or that she has never had ice cream, only cake twice, or juice, that we still baby wear, choose organic when possible, cloth diapering, etc… all these things are MY and my husband’s choices, last time I looks I birthed her and I have to deal with the ramifications of any mistakes I make with her, right? I feel so strongly about this subject also. Sometimes I just look at the people who start to attack my choices and I am like, come on, are you serious!?! Keep raising Bella the way you and Sam choose to, you will not regret it, I promise :) I will not regret how I have raised Bailey because I am trying my best and THINKING about every single choice I make with her.

  5. Go you! I agree with you, even though I am not a natural parenting parent. To each their own, and whatever works for you family I believe it is best. I was a baby wearer and co-sleeper, but other than that we deviated. I think the reason some people are defensive about it, at least in my case, is because they have felt attacked by some natural parenting women. It’s crazy how some people are on either side. As long as the children are happy and the family is on board with everything, so be it!

    • Ah. The attacking. Yes, I’ve been on the receiving end of that many times, especially online. Natural parenting does have a tendency to take a “holier than thou” attitude – which I hate.

  6. Yep, yep and yep. Don’t get me wrong, I judge. I totally judge. But not because someone cloth diapers or feeds gerber baby food. Not because someone bed-shares or uses CIO. I judge when people look down their nose at me and my parenting ways — and it isn’t the parenting style that causes that “I am better than you” attitude, it is the parent.

    I think you are a wonderful parent and I have never seen you scoff at others based on their choices. You have your opinions and to me, that is what makes the world go around.

    Great post!

    • Thanks Anne. And so true – judging someone means they often start judging you. It’s hard not to if you feel like someone is constantly on your case for the way you’re trying to live.

  7. Very well said. Even my closest friends (friends I’ve known 30+ years!) have made comments about how we’re still breastfeeding and have him rear facing in the car. In their case they don’t think I’m trying to out-mother them but that I’m trying to keep him a baby. Either way it’s hurtful. But on the flip side I’ve been known to judge other parents as well and it’s something I’m trying to work on.

  8. Why do we do this to each other? I know I’ve been judged — for cloth diapering and drug free births. It’s made me defensive and jumpy, but also better educated and less judgemental myself. So I guess that’s a good thing, right?

  9. I agree with so many of the other Mamas that commented here. Who is anyone to judge another by their parenting style. Last time I checked there was no single manual on How to Raise Children the Right Way. Me and Michael are right there being judged for choosing to CD’ing, buying primarily organic food and going with baby-led weaning. We even have friends who think it’s crazy that Cedella doesn’t know the latest Disney cartoons. These are all our personal choices, why do people seem to think that OUR choice has anything at all to do with their choices? If you want to use disposable, I don’t care. If you ask me about cloth, I will tell you my experience (and brought 3 Mamas over to the CD world so far). The bottom line is that my way of raising my child is best for my child and yours is best for yours. Anyone who feels that natural parents are stuck up or ‘superior’ may just have a bit of guilt and inferiority they need to get over. Make your choice and hold your ground. Beyond that, we’re all in this crazy rollercoaster called Parenthood and let’s all agree is a bumpy ride with no right answers!
    P.S. Clorox wipes and Gerber puffs are indeed ingenious!! But so are GroBaby diapers and natural playdoh! ; )

  10. So true. When I wrote my most recent post (not on motherhood, per se, but on the choices we make and how they affect others), I paused a number of times as I thought about the fact that some people would read the post and read that I was trying to say that I was better than them because I was choosing to make new choices in my life. Only, I’m *not* better than them… I’m as human and as flawed as everyone else. Just trying to do a little bit better. Just like you and your choices for your family… But you know what? I think you’re right in your observations that snide reactions are probably defensive and protective ones– people who react that way are probably feeling a bit less good about themselves when they see the choices you are making. And that’s not your fault…that’s theirs.

    • Blogging is so hard because often it doesn’t come across the way we mean it to. It’s tough to get emotions out on here.

  11. you are so right! my former ‘friend’ always had a problem with everything i did with C. she would get snarky about me still breastfeeding him (this was at 5 months), she thought it was gross I was starting to cloth diaper, she would always tell me how she did blahblahblah & how her daughter blahblahblah. i know people don’t agree with how i am doing things & that’s fine. i am still breastfeeding C & he is now 14 months old. some family members can’t wait to tell me that he should be done now. that DRIVES ME NUTS but i just let it go.

    we do a lot of things naturally/organically but we also do a lot that’s not. we are not perfect & i know that. i just wish people some times took their opinions & shoved em where the sun doesn’t shine. because that’s my opinion.

  12. I couldn’t agree more. The first time my MIL tried to give my son ketchup, I told her no and she looked at me and said, “It’s ketchup. What’s the big deal?” It may not have been a big deal to her, but it was to me. And I’d like my choices to be respected…which she didn’t. But don’t get me started!! Anyways, this is an excellent post, as always. And…my daughter just peed all over the floor. Because my idea of potty-training is to just let her go naked. Awesome.

  13. Well said! We go through the same thing here.

  14. I think it is natural to judge. We all do it, even when we don’t mean to do it. I think it begins to cross the line when we speak on that judgment to bring someone else’s style. I don’t know why as parents we do this and why is does feel like a competition. And one that begins at pregnancy. I found myself judging the decisions another mom made during her pregnancy. I guess to feel better? It was so silly and while I never said anything to her the fact that I did at all was just plain silly.

    I think the worse judgment comes from my own family. My son will be 23 months old and we still nurse to sleep. At about 14 months my mother went on and on and how I needed to stop. We co-slept until about 15 months and I got grilled about that day in and out. How he would be sleeping with us until he was 10 years old and be a wussy mommy’s boy. Finally they stopped but I still get looks.

    My MIL doesn’t really get the whole eating healthier. We still go to McDonald’s, we eat pizza. What I do try to refrain from are bringing overprocessed crap into my home. I search for organic alternatives, be it cookies, fruit snacks, etc. When we travel to see the in-laws I bring a lot of my own stuff because their lovely wal mart, piggly wiggly and food lion doesn’t carry what I want. She will buy what other grandchildren in the area eat, which would be fine if all our normal meals didn’t consist of canned, fried, greasy foods. I have to draw the line somewhere, don’t I?

    • It is SO hard to do that with family. I am thankful of how supportive mine is, but I hear stories all the time of people who constantly fight with theirs to raise their kid the way they want.

  15. I love this post!
    I never comment on posts but this one rings so true! I have a 15 month old who I still breatfeed and have no intentions of stopping until she’s ready. This is a choice I make. I don’t judge other people for not breastfeeding or for weaning at a year (I live in Canada and that is the socially acceptable time to wean here) and therefore I don’t expect to be judged for continuing to breastfeed but that is not the case. People have such a problem with it and I don’t understand why? Every baby is different and every family is different so what works in your situation might not work in mine. Parenthood is challenging enough as it is, that a little less judgement and a little more acceptance would make it easier on everyone! Thanks for the great post!

    • Thank you for the nice comment!! And you are right, every baby is different. While extended bf’ing might work for Bella, it may not for the next. It’s just coming up with what is best for you and them at the time.

  16. Love this post! I totally agree. Your doing awesome and keep up the good work.

  17. Hi Diana,
    I have been reading for months now, but haven’t ever commented! I have a 17 month old daughter, and we too chose to use cloth diapers and use organic products when possible. Your bit about Gerber snacks made me laugh, because we were in the same boat on a vacation not too long ago! Anyways, loved the post and love your blog more! You are a great writer!

  18. Amen sister! We could not have more different parenting styles. I love my children more than life itself but, they sometimes eat fast food, sometimes watch too much TV and so on. My best friend has a style more along your lines. It used to be a bone of contention in our friendship until one day I just decided that I am doing it my way and if she judged me then so be it.
    It was very freeing and we are still the best of friends three years later. We are also both amazing parents.

  19. I just read this for the second time because i recently lost 3 friends to their feeling that I am insensitive to the way that they parent and that their beliefs just don’t gel with mine. SERIOUSLY?! I can honestly say that I never make parents feel badly about their decisions, at least not consciously. And I certainly am not going to bow down to anyone who believes differently than I do. I don’t expect for everyone to agree 100% of the time, and I don’t have room in my life for people who get irritated when our lifestyles or even personalities don’t gel. *deep breath* I’m glad I read this again. And I’m going to remember to not let them or anyone else affect me negatively. *woooosaaahhhh*!

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