Let's get real for a moment.
Parenting is hard. Damn hard. With the level of social media available to us these days, ideologies of what a ‘good’ parent (note: mother!) is, is everywhere. There is no avoiding it. And everyone has an opinion on what is best. The saying goes it takes a village to raise a child- which is true, we do need that support and to be surrounded by people who know what it’s like. But sometimes, this village becomes toxic. And because of social media, it’s become less of a close circle of well-known and trusted family and friends, to an international circle of strangers.
Sure, this has its benefits. Of course it does- we get to learn things we may not have otherwise. But it also has its downfalls. People tend to hold less back when behind a keyboard- the good, bad and ugly. We seem to forget that people on the other side of that screen are just that – people – not emotionless machines. Some of those people are already on the edge, and reach out to others in the hopes of some encouragement and a “hey, you are doing a great job!” Instead, they are met with judgment, criticism and sadly in some cases just plain nastiness. But why? Why do we feel the need to judge other parents? What does it achieve?
We need to build each other up. Nobody will ever agree on everything related to pregnancy, birth and parenting. That’s life - and imagine how boring it would be if that was the case. There needs to be difference of opinions. It’s how we learn, its how we grow. But let’s cut the judgment. Let’s cut the nastiness. Let’s cut the ‘holier than thou’ attitude. We are all parents. We are all trying to do our best for those little people we love. None of us know what the hell we are doing (although some of us try to pretend like we do!). So instead of knocking each other when we do things differently, why not throw a little encouragement to each other.
“Hey, I see you bottle feeding, awesome job on making sure your baby is fed!”
“Oh, you are breastfeeding your 2 year old? Go you!”
“You had a totally unmedicated birth in a creek in the rainforest? Good job!”
“You had a caesarean? Way to go on bringing your baby into this world!”
Its. Not. That. Hard! Even if you don’t agree with something, it doesn’t give you the right to tear someone down. Of course a bit of a healthy debate is good, and asking questions as to why someone does what they do is a great way to open up discussion about different parenting styles and philosophies. But do it respectfully. Don’t patronise, don’t judge. Listen. Acknowledge that sometimes we need to agree to disagree. Accept it and move on.
And maybe, just maybe, by being more encouraging of others and accepting we are all different, we may be easier on ourselves as parents. We won’t always be thinking where we are going wrong, or worrying that something is wrong with our baby because they aren’t doing what Jane from up the street’s baby is doing. We will learn to accept that we all parent differently. Babies develop differently.
But most of all, maybe we will learn to be a village. A place where people from all walks of life are able to share parenting wins and fails and not fear judgment or nastiness.
Parenting is hard enough. Why make it harder?
We need our village. And thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever to find it. We have seemingly infinite support available, from all over the globe (handy at 2am when you are up feeding a cranky baby and need someone to chat to!). Let’s not ruin that. Let’s not make it harder to find a village the easier it gets.
I’m not saying it needs to be sunshine and lollipops and rainbows all the time. That’s not reality. Of course there will be hard times, and disagreements and difference in opinions. But let’s use that to our advantage! Let’s use that to learn from each other. To grow. And possibly most importantly, to open our minds to different ways of thinking. Let’s be that village. Let’s be the village that builds each other up, that offers a kind word when someone is struggling.
From one mother to another…. You. Got. This.