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When did we stop supporting each other and turn parenting into a competition?

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I read a rather smug, judgemental post on a friends Facebook page the other day. I won’t go into detail but it insinuated that anyone that didn’t agree with her parenting style was clearly an inferior mother.

Over the last few months it seemed my Facebook feed was getting filled with more and more parents trying to out-do each other with their ‘aren’t I the best parent in the world’ posts. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with seeing posts about peoples kids, their lifestyle choices, or even photo after photo of little Johnny eating his first banana – it’s great, you’re a proud parent and I love all those cute baby pics. There just seems to be a surge in parents, probably unknowingly or maybe even knowingly (?), making others feel bad as they continuously preach like some paragon of virtue, belittling anyone else’s parenting choices.

Natural birth = 5 points

This got me thinking; how have we moved so far away from supporting each other through the stresses of parenthood and turned it into some competition by which you win points for eating organic food, breastfeeding, having a ‘natural’ birth, co-sleeping, not co-sleeping, not returning to work or returning to work etc? You just have to read some threads on parenting forums and before you know it, you’re witness to a mass argument between strangers, all fighting with each other over who’s the best mum! Surely we should be giving each other a pat on the back and words of encouragement?

How could you possibly leave them with a stranger all day?

This doesn’t just stop at social media. I’m well aware that what people may portray as their perfect lives parenting 1via twitter and Facebook, often don’t match reality. The mum who just posted pictures of the perfect organic cupcakes and cookies she spent the afternoon baking with her children, may actually be the result of a fraught, stressful afternoon spent telling her darlings off, the kids ended up in tears and mum resorted to the ‘ready to bake’ mixture from the cupboard! But I hear it in every day conversations, news articles and general chit-chat. It usually goes along the lines of:

  • ‘Are you going back to work then? Oh I don’t know how you can leave your child in a nursery all day, you’ll never see them, I gave up work when I became a mum’
  • ‘You’re not going back to work? I’d be so bored at home, you will lose your identity, don’t you want to teach your children that you can work and raise children at the same time?’
  • ‘Why aren’t you breastfeeding then? Breast is best and nothing would make me give in to a bottle, even if my nipples literally were falling off’
  • ‘Why are you still breastfeeding? Surely they don’t need to at that age, that’s just weird?’
  • ‘You buy ready made baby food? I cook up batches of organic food every week and freeze it you know’
  • ‘Why are you co-sleeping? Don’t you know the dangers of cot death?’
  • ‘Oh I had little Tommy in our bed for the first 6 months, how could you put him in his own room from birth?’
  • ‘You’re planning a home birth? How can you risk it!?’
  • ‘Oh you had a cesearian? I had a natural birth’

THE LIST GOES ON. And it infuriates me! I even had a friend who felt like she would be classed as such a failure because her natural birth turned into an emergency cesarean, the only way (in her eyes) to make up for it was by breastfeeding successfully – cancelling out the ‘failed birth’. Despite her baby having a medical condition making it near enough impossible for him to feed, being admitted to hospital on several occasions and her baby becoming ill, she did not stop trying to breastfeed for fear of ‘failing at that’ and comments from other mums asking why her child was being given a bottle.

Who wins? You decide

If Emma breastfed her children until they were one, but feeds them processed food and ready meals now they’re at school, yet Jayne bottle fed her babies but feeds them organic home cooked meals everyday – who is the better parent there?budgeting to become at stay at home parent

Amanda co-slept, did attachment parenting, baby led weaning and had her son in a sling by her side all day, but she’s happy for him to be glued to her iPad for hours at a time now he’s old enough, where as Michelle put her daughter in her own cot in her own room from day one, let her cry it out and never let her sleep in her and her partners bed. But she spends every waking hour playing and engaging with her daughter. Who scores the most points there then?

You get my drift. There are no winners, just differences. Some parents these days seem so hell bent fighting their cause, they forget how many other parents they are offending in the process. After my friend wrote her controversial Facebook post (and she does this on FB a LOT) another friend was quick to comment that while she was so busy apparently being such a bad mother, she spends her spare time with her precious baby rather than passing judgement on other peoples choices on Facebook. Good point I say!

We all want the same thing!

So how about instead of trying to score perfect parent points, we actually support one another, give encouragement regarding our differing parenting decisions and a huge pat on the back?! After all, the differences in parenting styles and approaches are what make us unique and individual. We’re all doing the same thing – raising our children the best way we can – and no one persons way is better than the others. Let’s not point score but embrace the fact we’ve all been blessed with these little munchkins and all want the best for them!

 

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About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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