Parent wars – be nice to other parents

I know that this picture has received much comment. Most about whether a child this age should be breast feeding and then on the pros and cons of Attachement parenting. The photo is meant to be evocative, to get people to buy a magazine. It is very clever, if it was a more hippy looking mom (and I say this without any malice, just to illustrate a stereotype, one which I think I fall into in many ways) with dreadlocks, or long un-styled hair, tie-dyed loose flowing clothes and a 3 year old in soft colours and maybe even long hair, then it would have been easy for most people to dismiss the picture. It would be so far removed and easily classify as ‘those’ strange alternative people. But the woman is young and pretty, what one friend called a MILF. They have cleverly narrowed the gap to make people feel uncomfortable.

But this is not the point. I have been around the parenting block more than once now and have had numerous discussions and debates on the various merits of one style of parenting versus another. The more I parent the more tolerant I become. I realize that it does not matter one tiny bit what someone else does. I could not care less how other people choose to parent and to be honest I doubt they care very much how I parent or how the woman in the picture parents.

So why do I get some vicious comments when I write articles on more alternative methods of parenting? My aim is to give information to others who might find that what I do feels right to them and is congruent with their beliefs and would be something they would want to try. I am under no illusion that everyone will agree with me or even want to do things the way I do. I have written on extended breast feeding before on Parent 24 and received some interesting comments both good and bad.

I think what is more at play here is, that when we feel the need to vehemently defend our own parenting style it might have more to say about our own insecurity in the way we do things, than about what other people do. We are never all going to do things the same way. We might feel strongly about the style we have chosen and even think that it would be of benefit to others. But that is their choice not ours.

I am all for giving information about the different ways people parent, it is after all, from reading other peoples accounts and methods, that I found what was congruent to me and discarded what did not feel right. Others might naturally gravitate to different choices.

I delay vaccinations for example and select which ones I am going to give. I have friends who fully vaccinate per schedule and I totally understand their choice, I have other friends who do not vaccinate at all and I understand their rationale too. Neither makes me feel the slightest bit insecure about what I have decided.

As parents we have the right to choose for our children, and as long as we are not breaking the law and abusing them, then actually, we can do it any way we want to. We all do the best we can with what we have at the time. No parent is trying to mess up their child or trying to make bad decisions. Sure we all make mistakes and are less than perfect.

Parenting can be damn hard some days, what we need is more support of each other, irrespective of our parenting choices. A little more kindness and understanding will go a long way.

While that picture might make me feel a little uncomfortable, mostly because of the way it is shot,( I have had friends Breastfeed a 3 year old and thought nothing of it) I have no right to say what she should and should not be doing, my uncomfortableness is my own and should have no bearing on her. Some people are uncomfortable with breast feeding in public at any age and I expect them to suck it up and take their thoughts away with them. I will not judge her or any other parent who chooses differently to me and I expect the same in return.

So natural birth or c-section, breast feeding or bottle, schooling or home schooling it does not matter. Follow your heart and do what feels right. Talk about what you do and be willing to let other talk about their ways even if different. Don’t feel threatened, it is no judge on the way you do it, they just do things differently.

Be nice to other parents

What did you think of the picture?
Do you feel the need to defend the way you parent?
Have you ever been attacked or criticized for your parenting style?