I love when friends share Bible verses on social media! It always makes me smile knowing that others take the time to read it and are encouraged by the word. It also makes me feel like I’m not alone on this journey and it’s encouraging to know that others struggle with the same thing I struggle with.
This morning it was 1 Thessalonians 3 that was shared. It’s just one of the examples of Paul encouraging other believers, and encouraging them to be encouraging.
We all love encouragement, receiving it that is. Giving it is another story. Did you know that as a culture we are so bad at encouraging one another that we’ve come with the term mommy wars? What that means is that mommies everywhere judge other mommies everywhere for everything they do from the moment they announce their pregnancy to the moment their child eventually marries and moves out.
I read a story recently where a 30 year friendship ended after the two friends became mommies. They were so critical of each other’s parenting techniques that the friendship ended in a spat about breastfeeding vs formula feeding. “She had an opinion on everything I did, and I was always wrong. At first I distanced myself but then the passive aggressive comments came via Facebook posts that she knew I’d see. Eventually I had to end it, I mean why did she care so much about how much screen time my kids had, or how often I bathed my son, or the fact that I fed him store bought food?” Said one of the moms in an interview with a parenting magazine.
As a foster parent I’ve had more than my fair share of unsolicited advice. Everyone knows what’s best for the kids, and I apparently know nothing. Since I knew that I would be under the critical eye of a government agency I’m somewhat okay with their criticisms, these aren’t my kids after all. It’s the scrutiny I felt from the day…. no, long before the day my first son was born from everyone under the sun that gets under my skin. They all want to tell you what’s best, even people who have yet to have their own kids! “You should go with a midwife” “no, you should use a doctor” “have your baby at the hospital” “do a home birth” “refuse pain meds” ask for pain meds” “don’t have any ultrasounds” “get as many ultrasounds as possible” “find out the sex” “don’t find out” and that’s just some of what I can remember hearing before my son was born.
Afterwards it got even worse, from whether or not to vaccinate, to the oh so controversial topic of breastfeeding vs formula, then to what baby foods we should buy or better yet…make! I remember hearing criticisms about how we rocked him to sleep and that he slept in our bed and that we are spoiling him and ruining him and on to how much screen time he got on the tablet and so on. It became so hard to navigate through all the opinions of other people to actually determine what is truly the right thing for my son and my family, that I began to tune out all of the voices and that’s when I found some clarity. Nobody knew my little guy better than his parents, and his Creator, between God, my wife, my son and I we would figure out what he needed, and when.
Tuning out those voices is an ongoing battle, which I’m sure it is for you too. You’ve probably been at the playground and saw the judgemental glances from other parents, or heard the whispers when your kids falls and scrape a knee. You’ve probably been at the grocery store trying to reason with an irate toddler demanding a bag of Oreos and seen the ‘mom of the year’ walk by with her perfectly dressed kids, walking hand in hand asking their mother politely if they might please have a bowl of broccoli for a snack whence they return home. I’m a dad, and therefore don’t hear quite so much of the cattyness but I’m not oblivious to it either, I can read between the lines when I see one mom ask another if she’s sure if she wants to put that in her kids’ mouths.
The approaching school years get even worse, you’ll hear from people you didn’t even ask which school you should send your kids to, and they are all very passionately convinced that they are right. Private vs catholic vs homeschool and obviously public is only for the heathens. Then come the birthday parties and one parent out bashing the other when it comes to how elaborate they should be. Bouncy castles are a must now and any kid who doesn’t get one is obviously living below the poverty line.
Okay, I’m done ranting, I just can’t figure out why so many people preach diversity in parenting and then demand that everyone parents the same way. Why does the homeschool mom and the public school mom have to be at odds with each other? Why can’t they each arrive at their own decision and be happy for each other? These pics say what I’m trying to say best.
Putting aside all sarcastic ranting and the fact that I’m a dad and not a mom, wouldn’t harmonious parenting be better than competitive parenting? In my experience dad’s don’t do this, at least not to the level I’ve seen moms do it. If you don’t believe me just read the comments section of any topic related to parenting. Mommy shaming is a term someone came up with in an effort to describe what it’s like to be the subject of all that unwanted criticism, and I think it hits the nail on the head.
Remember the old adage ‘it takes a village’? Well now it takes a mom and the village just scorns from the outside looking in.
Look, I’m not saying I’m innocent in all of this, like I said I’m a foster parent. That means I take in kids coming from bad situations and I’ve done my fair share of judging those parents. I’m just asking that we put aside our opinions and what worked for us and we think they should do, and support each other and encourage each other in all the different ways we parent. Like the Apostle Paul when he wrote to his fellow believers, be an encouragement. Lift each other up and for goodness sake, lighten up! Life’s hard enough raising kids in this crazy world, why do we want to raise other people’s kids anyways? At the end of the day if that kid is a brat, it isn’t your problem.