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My Parenting Choices are NOT a Criticism of Yours

By Katie |

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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About Katie

katie

Katie

Katie is a former teacher, part-time PT, wife, and first-time mother to the baby with the best ears on the Internet. You can find more of her grammatically questionable writing at her blog, Overflowing Brain. Read bio and latest posts → Read Katie's latest posts →

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11 thoughts on “My Parenting Choices are NOT a Criticism of Yours

  1. Daisy says:

    Thank you for this. I don’t eat lunch meat, my child will stay rear facing, I’m not using car seat inserts and I’m not buying crib bumpers. It isn’t because I think “you” were a bad Mom for doing so, but I’m making my decisions based on the best information available now, not what was available 5 years ago.

  2. Heather says:

    I think you guys are taking it all a little too personally. Sometimes when we second and third time moms tell you that we, for example, ate deli meat, it’s to help you relax. Like, “I ate deli meat, and my kids are fine” is a way of saying, “if you want to eat at subway sometimes, DO IT” I know those message boards are crazy but they are supposed to be about sharing experiences. Try to take what people write there (and on twitter especially, where you are talking to your friends) in the spirit for which it was intended, and ignore the ones that are purposely causing drama.

    1. katie says:

      Heather, I don’t have any issue with what you’re saying. Those are not the statements that are the problem. It’s ones like “oh please, I ate deli meat everyday and my kids are fine. You’re being overprotective.” that bother me.

      1. Heather says:

        Oh god yeah, those people suck. Screw them.

  3. lonek8 says:

    Well said. As a fourth time parent, it is amazing how fast things change. My first 3 kids only rear faced until age 1, because that was the rule then. I haven’t decided if I’ll keep my youngest rear facing that long yet- ill probably see how I feel at the time/ how big she gets. I do personally think the car seat rules are getting a little bit ridiculous- some of the recommendations suggest keeping kids in the backseat until they are 15. So basically until they can drive! I totally understand safer is better, but seriously, back off a little and stop terrifying the new parents!! I wonder how long it will be before we can’t drive our kids around at all?

    But I digress. I support your choices and I appreciate you supporting mine. Let’s hope this message spreads to those who most need to hear it!

  4. Maria says:

    I totally agree. Motherhood has become a competition. Why we just support each other and respect each others choices?

    http://3rdworldmommy.wordpress.com

  5. Maria says:

    I totally agree. Motherhood has become a competition. Why cant we just support each other and respect each others choices?

    http://3rdworldmommy.wordpress.com

  6. Emily says:

    Amen! It’s fine for mothers (and fathers) to discuss issues a d current parenting “guidelines”, but to believe that all parents will make the same decisions is naive. We are all adults with different takes on life, and hopefully we are all just doing what we feel us right for our families. Embrace different perspectives and each other! The last thing we mamas need at the end of the (long, exhausting) day is to feel judged and bullied for doing our best.

  7. Emily says:

    Amen! It’s fine for mothers (and fathers) to discuss issues and current parenting “guidelines”, but to believe that all parents will make the same decisions is naive. We are all adults with different takes on life, and hopefully we are all just doing what we feel us right for our families. Embrace different perspectives and each other! The last thing we mamas need at the end of the (long, exhausting) day is to feel judged and bullied for doing our best.

  8. Dana says:

    Well said!

  9. amie.evw says:

    To provide a completely different perspective, I hate the, “I did ….and my kids are fine.” because I followed every single rule and my beautiful daughter was born with a 1 in 32,000 birth defect (symbrachydactyly) that was caused by a vascular disruption (i.e. not genetic nor anything I “did”).

    When people say “…and they turned out fine”, it sounds like they had complete control over how their babies developed when in fact we can all try our best but at the end of the day, sometimes it all comes down to luck. I wish I was still that naive to think I had that much control over anything.

    Even though I will probably always feel guilty about my daughter’s birth defect in my heart, I can move past it a little easier because I know I really did try my hardest to follow every rule I knew about.

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