Thursday, 21 February 2013

Thursday: Mummy Wars!

As my regular readers know I have a 7 year old and a 1 year old.

Image from morgueFile
I am so grateful that I had my first child 7 years ago.

In the last 2 years there seems to be a media driven 'Mummy Wars' that pitches mother against mother and in the end makes everyone feel bad about the choices they make as a parent.

When you have your first baby everyone seems to have a view about what you should be doing to ensure that your child gets the best possible start in life.

  • Breast vs Bottle feeding (Yes, breast feeding is better IF you are able to manage it - no mother should be made to feel like a failure if they have to bottle feed)
  • Stay at home mum vs working mum
  • Attachment parenting vs free roaming parenting
The wonderful thing about having a second child after your first one has started school is that you have proof that no-one cares about the choices you made to bring up your baby.

At no point during enrolment for Kindy or School was I asked how I had fed my daughter. No one cared that she started walking at 15 months. No-one asked at what age my daughter was toilet trained. 

But, in the last couple of years the media seems obsessed with pitching mother against mother. If you read a lot of the parenting blogs or websites you can end up feeling like a failure. Instead of mothers supporting each other we all seemed to have turned on one another to justify the decisions we have chosen to make. 

We should not have to explain our parenting decisions to anyone (except maybe our paediatrician but only if there is a problem). Everyone has their own reasons for making the decisions they do. Unless you have taken the time to find out a mothers story then you should not judge.

For example my son was 8 weeks early. I had huge struggles with breastfeeding. I could not make milk without large quantities of Motilium. I was able to express milk for about 10 weeks before my milk supply gave up even with using all the drugs. At the time my husband was also undergoing 9 months of chemotherapy for his brain tumour which was making him very sick. My daughter was also starting a new school. It is safe to say I was very stressed.

I then had to formula feed. At times when I bottle fed in public I had other mothers give me looks of disgust and make comments like 'I breast fed because I cared about my child'. None of them knew my individual story. They just made a presumption based on what they saw.

Why have we become like this? Why are mothers attacking each other instead of supporting each others choices?
  • I don't care if you breast feed or bottle feed. If your baby is healthy then in my view you are doing a great job.
  • I don't care if you stay at home or go out to work. Each has its own challenges and benefits. What ever works best for your family is the right decision.
  • I don't care if you carry your child on your body or push them in a pram. Do what feels best to you.
  • The age your child walks or toilet trains is none of my business.
I hope these 'Mummy Wars' are a short lived phenomenon. Sadly, the age of the Internet is that many people are happy to comment on blogs and websites with opinions that they would never say to someones face. It is easy to forget when we type at a computer that what someone reads can be just as hurtful as what someone says.

To all those first time mums - don't question what you are doing. I am sure you are doing a fantastic job at raising your child. If you are having problems with post natal depression then contact your GP or have a look at Beyond Blue for help.

See you tomorrow!

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