The Elephant In The Room: Stop Patronizing Moms
We need to talk. I love that we are hearing more and more often, "You just have to do what's best for you" when it comes to motherhood. It's great. Acceptance and support are essential to having a better motherhood journey. Sure, criticism still happens, but it's much more likely that a group of moms will come to defend a mom being criticized now than it was years ago. Everyone has opinions but nowadays if you tell a mom she's doing something wrong or she could do better, you're going to get backlash.
However, we need to address something. When my son was very young, I had a lot of difficulties with him. I was exclusively breastfeeding and it was very important to me. But my son was generally extremely fussy, liked to feed often, and was just an absolutely awful sleeper. It wasn't long before suggestions started pouring in from well meaning people. I should try baby cereal, I should consider a bit of sleep training, I should, I should, I should.
Here's the thing. I had done lots of research about the way I wanted to do things. I wanted to exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months. This was the most up to date and research backed information available. I did not want to sleep train my young baby. I personally felt it would interfere with the trusting bond I was working to form with him. I wasn't comfortable with it.
There were plenty of other issues I had made my decisions about and didn't really feel supported in. When I made my voice heard and stood up for my choices, I was quickly dismissed as a know-it-all. Comments were made that I was trying to be perfect and I would fail at that so I should just stop. Here's the thing, I would never put down a mom who is making a choice I disagree with to make her life easier, but here I was being slammed for making choices that were more difficult for me but that I believed were best for my child. What the hell is that?
Putting down another parent who is doing their best is wrong. Point blank. We all know telling a mom to try harder or telling her she's not doing her best would be hurtful and rude. Here's the thing, telling a mom she isn't relaxed enough or that she is wrong to make things "difficult" is just as hurtful and rude. My son was thriving on the choices I made. He was simply a challenging, high needs baby. Doing things differently was not going to change that and could possibly have done him harm. The last thing I needed as a sleep-deprived, isolated new mom was people putting down my choices that I had the utmost faith in.
Time has passed and I think basically everyone knows now that I make my own choices because I don't get a whole lot of pushback on most things these days. My son sleeps now. My son almost never cries. My son is healthy and happy. He eats what we eat, the way we eat it and he loves meal times. The choices I made paid off big. He's growing into an amazing little boy and I am so happy I persevered through the difficult days.
My message is this: just stop. Stop shoving your opinions and ideas onto moms, especially new moms. If people want advice, they'll ask. You don't know what works for someone else and their child. You don't know what values different families hold and what their priorities are. Do not patronize the mom who has made choices for her child that seem "up tight" or unrealistic to you. This is her journey, not yours.
To the moms who are going through challenges like this, stay strong. This is your child and you get to decide. A lot of the ideas people push on you, truly will not fit your baby. Don't doubt yourself and your ability to care for this baby. Babies are difficult and some are more difficult than others. Some issues have solutions but honestly, some don't. It just takes time! Don't ever feel pressured to try something you're not comfortable with and reserve the right to research every suggestion that comes your way. You may not hear this enough; but not only have you got this, you've got this YOUR way.