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My Parenting Choices are NOT a Criticism of Yours

A friend of mine who is currently pregnant reminded me of one of the reasons I hated pregnancy boards so much. And why, to this day, I hate some parenting boards. The scenario plays out every day: a pregnant woman asks what the food restrictions are and a second or third time mom hops on and criticizes those who follow the rules because she ate whatever she wanted and her kids are fine. An argument ensues and everyone ends up with their feelings hurt. You can swap out food restrictions with crib bumpers and carseats and every other parenting choice and the situation is the same.

It is exhausting to read, let alone to participate in. Pregnancy and parenting rules and suggestions are constantly evolving. What I do with Eli may not be at all what I do with my next child, but that doesn’t mean that my parenting choices now, or anyone else’s parenting choices, past or present, are being criticized. My choices are mine and they do not reflect or relate to anyone else’s.

For example…

I followed all the pregnancy food rules, including lunch meat, because I was scared of listeria.

I did not buy crib bumpers for my crib because the current recommendation says not to.

I do not put my child to sleep on his belly because the most current literature says not to.

My child will rear face in his carseat until 2 years of age because studies show the longer the better.

I choose to pump because my child will not breastfeed and I supplement with formula only as needed because I am crazy and like to make myself miserable because I want him to get as much breastmilk as possible.

I sometimes wear my baby, but sometimes don’t, based entirely upon our preference.

I don’t use a bumbo because I don’t like them.

These are my parenting choices. They reflect decisions I made based upon research and what I am comfortable with. 50 years ago my grandmother smoked through all her pregnancies, placed her kids to sleep on their bellies and they all survived. Those were things that weren’t contraindicated at that time and the fact that I choose to do something different isn’t a criticism of her parenting, it’s a choice to follow the most recent guidelines and do what works best for us. And some parents still smoke through pregnancy and put their kids to sleep on their tummies, and my concurrent smoke-free/back sleeping parenting still isn’t a criticism of theirs.

Simply put, I am a rule follower and I always have been. I will not be apologetic for this.

The fact that I skip the crib bumpers and choose to rear face for 2 years isn’t a criticism of your parenting. My parenting choices have no effect on yours and likewise yours have no effect on mine. And so when a new mother says she’s planning to do x, y or z that is different from when you parented your child, it’s not necessary to defend your parenting. No one is saying you’re wrong. Everyone’s situations are different, just as everyone’s children are different.

And that’s okay. Because my parenting choices are not a criticism of yours.

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