The Absolute Right and Wrong of Parenting

Ready?  Here it is:

Absolutely do not abuse your children (or other people’s children) mentally, emotionally, physically.

Absolutely do try a little harder to be a bit better every day for your kids.

There it is.  That’s it.  Case closed.

I feel that lately we’ve been pushed to buy into this awful notion of right or wrong.  And this definitely extends to parenting.  Of the top of my list, here are some of the many things that ignite the so-called “Mommy wars”:

  • bottle vs. breast
  • co sleeping vs. room sharing vs. crib wayyyyy down the hall
  • religion vs. no religion
  • working moms vs. work-at-home moms vs. stay at home moms
  • screen time vs. outdoor time
  • daycare facility vs. out-of-home daycare
  • home birth vs. hospital birth
  • baby food from Wal Mart vs. homemade baby food
  • regular clothing vs. cage-free no-kill chemical-free clothing

Okay, I made the last one up.  But still.  You get the point.

Here’s my super controversial opinion about all this so-called “controversy”…. it’s nonsense.

There is very little absolute right and wrong about parenting.  For the most part, it’s doing your best, recognizing all the fuck ups in an average day, and going to bed to try again tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be better. Right? It has to be.
Tomorrow will be better. Right? It has to be.

I get it.  Motherhood is a sensitive thing.  It’s the thing we probably care the most about, or at least told that we should care the most about it, so it’s easy to feel automatically defensive about it.  We feel that judgement is implied when someone chooses a different path from us, so we feel the need to shore up our defenses.

I have definitely felt attacked when no attack was intended.

I have definitely touted a strong opinion when no one asked.

I have definitely judged the crap out of other mothers and turned up my nose, while secretly thinking I was such a great person because I didn’t voice my distaste.

So let’s just stop.

Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please has this amazing section on the Mommy Wars.  If you are feeling the Mommy Wars hard, I highly suggest that chapter (although the whole book is definitely worth the read).

Poehler is my spirit animal
Poehler is my spirit animal.  You go, Glenn Coco!

In her book, Poehler coins this magical phrase:

Good for her, not for me.

Every baby and every family is different.  What works for one family and/or baby may not work for another.  And that’s okay.

I happen to feel strongly that my son should sleep in the other room.  That’s partly because I’m a really heavy sleeper and don’t trust myself, and partly because I have a nasty habit of sleeping with the TV on, one I don’t want to impart to my son.  I totally get that other mamas and other babies room share and/or cosleep.  Good for her, not for me.

I stopped breastfeeding when my son was four months for reasons that could encompass another blog post.  One of my good mama friends is still breastfeeding her one year old and has plans to continue for as long as possible.  Good for her, not for me.

Poehler describes it as a mantra, one to hold to when you doubt your mothering abilities or find the creeping urge to judge another mama.  “Good for her, not for me.  Good for her, not for me.”  Repeat as necessary.

Because let’s face it: this shit is hard.  We need support, not judgment and fear.  So please, let’s agree: there’s not really a right or wrong here.  Its good for her, maybe not for me and that’s okay.

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