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?

9 thoughts on “Parent wars – be nice to other parents

  1. I think I would have liked the picture more if he was cradled or on her lap or something. That is just a VERY unnatural breastfeeding pose and it is clear to me that it is meant to evoke a reaction.. Also, I wish that this Mom had a bit more foresight wrt this picture – could she not have had his identity protected? At some point this kid is going to be a teenager and guess what? This picture might (in fact, it WILL) surface and cause him to be a possible victim of bullying.

    I don’t have a problem with extended breastfeeding. I’ve seen it in my own family (my cousin was breastfeeding her 4yr old) so it’s perfectly natural and simply didn’t seem weird to me. From what I could tell it was more a comfort thing – happened mainly when it was bedtime and she needed to settle and feel close to her Mom.

    Also, I am an each-to-his-own kind of person and I think that parents should parent in a way that works for them and THEIR kids. I have people gossiping about my 4yr old that still wears a nappy but NO ONE knows that there are underlying issues and that we are addressing these issues. Am sure that they think that I’m a lazy Mom. I don’t care. I tell them to Eff Off. I honestly don’t feel that I need to explain things like how I parent and WHY I parent a specific way to all and sundry.

    Quite frankly, I think that we have MUCH bigger things to worry about than things like extended breastfeeding and c-sections and attachment parenting and and and. Seriously. I agree. Be nice to other parents. One often has NO IDEA why they do things the way they do or what truly happens behind closed doors.

    • very true Julia, we seem so quick to judge. It is almost as if by judging others we can feel better about what we do. Why not just find peace with what you do and let others get on with doing things their way.

  2. Parenting is one of those insane jobs, there simply is no right or wrong way (well apart from the wrongs you mention).

    Ultimately it can’t ever be a bad thing for people to disagree on things, or we’d all be the same. But to do so with such aggression and malice only makes me concerned for the poor kids.

    I think all of that is really just some people’s way of trying to justify what they are doing. Anything that may be seen to being vastly different to what they are doing surely can’t be right?

    At the end of the day as long as the children are happy where’s the harm?

    Ultimately I’m just thankful that my parents were alternative enough to allow my brothers and I to all be very different people with very different world views.

  3. I guess the only thing I have issue with is choosing to not vaccinate at all. (Delayed vaccinations on the other hand are totally fine.) That to me is like choosing to send your kid to playschool when you know they have lice – you’re making a decision that potentially affects more children than your own. That aside, brilliant article. I’m frankly sick of people who go on a rampage every time they see a parent choose to have a Caesarean or breastfeed their baby in public.

    • The decision not to vaccinate is usually carefully considered. There is risk in both vaccinating and not so parents decide which risk they are more willing to deal with. It is not actually true that unvaccinated kids are a risk to vaccinated kids, they are more at ‘risk’ to each other. Not to debate but rather explain that friends who have made these decisions have thought very carefully about them and accept that kids might get some of the disease, they deem this better than some of the risks of vaccination. And to be clear for most this is not the autism thing at all which has been disproved but other reasons too many to list here. I understand why they make their choice as they do.

  4. You make a point to which I never thought about it like that – you write articles about parenting to give ideas. I never thought about it this way. I always thought that parenting articles was there to give advice rather than giving an idea – this will surely make me see articles in a different point of view, even blog posts.
    Thanks for opening my eyes to this point of view. Make me view things a bit different now.

    • Blackhuff I am glad to help, I love the idea of being open to read what others say and see if it fits with me and the way I think about stuff. I would never even have thought of cloth nappies or known anything about them if it was not for article that I read. I love the idea and so it worked for me. Vaccinations was a big one for me I went backwards and forwards as I understand the reasoning on both sides, I eventually found the middle ground that worked for me. The ideas helped me form what I would be comfortable with.

  5. I dont care if women breastfeed the kid till its 3 or whatever, but I don’t see the point, is the kid still getting the health benefits from the breast milk, I would think the optimal length of time has lapsed and that its just useless still breastfeeding coz if you look at nature, the babies stop feeding from the mother once they’re developed enough. A 3 year old’s system is totally different and its matured to a stage where breast milk will be of no benefit. So I just dont get it. I think those women like the bond that they feel so much whilst doing it that its hard to give it up.

  6. Undeniably imagine that which you stated. Your favourite justification seemed to be at the web the simplest factor to be mindful of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed whilst people consider issues that they plainly don’t recognize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing with no need side-effects , people could take a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thanks

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