Almost every day I am diffusing one Mommy War or another (as a moderator of a Facebook group) and I’ve learned a few things in the process.
Why are there Mommy Wars? Moms are naturally very passionate and when it comes to their kids and their families they will fight until the end. In our modern day Mommy Wars we’re battling over topics that are important (or not important) to us. We each have our own “hot topics” that push us over the edge and make us want to claw out another mom’s eyes if they don’t see it our way.
Common “hot topics” include disposables vs cloth diapers, breastfeeding vs formula feeding, circumcision vs intactism, babywearing, car seats, cosleeping, home schooling, letting a baby cry themselves to sleep, vaccinations, etc. I’m sure just in reading over this very short list you could already feel yourself start to get heated up and ready to battle.
Why is it that these topics are so heated and end up with mom’s hurting one another? Because we don’t know how to fight fair. Instead, we end up judging one another for our own parenting decisions when we should be trying to learn from one another. I personally think that Mommy Wars serve a purpose and we shouldn’t waive the white flag on them just yet. However, I think we need to learn how to fight fair and stop judging one another in the process.
Stop judging and start listening. There are things we can learn from one another if we’re willing to stop, listen, and really hear what the other mom has to say. We not only learn more about the other side of the story but we learn to love and respect one another better. We do this through empathy to one another – allowing us to reperceive our world in a new way and to not take it personally. I’ll give you an example of one issue that has me completely open minded now; where in the past I would have placed judgement – circumcision.
We chose to circumcise our son and never even gave it a thought. Everyone in our family had been circumcised and it seemed like the “normal” thing to do at birth. He didn’t actually get circumcised the traditional way though because he had hypospadias (ill-placed urethral opening) and had elective surgery as a young infant to repair the placement. While even this surgery was elective we opted to follow along in our own family traditions. Now, after years of listening to other moms debate and explain why circumcision is not a medically necessary procedure I can understand their side of the debate. I completely respect their values and if we had another male child; I might consider leaving him intact. Not because I feel that either side is “right” or “wrong” but because I understand the values that others place on this and the reasoning behind the battle. I don’t regret our decision to circumcise or repair the hypospadias on our first son either.
Once you open your ears and really listen to what others have to say you can better appreciate their value system without placing judgement on them. Remember that listening to someone else does not mean that you have to AGREE with them.
Tips to Fighting Fair in Mommy Wars:
- Ask before you give advice. The other mom may be looking for empathy instead of reassurance and advice. Instead of offering advice, first ask them questions about why they feel the way they do. Paraphrase or repeat their statement or question back to them.
- THINK before you speak (or type). Is what you are about to say (or type) True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind? If you can answer YES to all of these questions then go ahead and add to the conversation.
- “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all!” I’m sure your mother taught you this one at a very young age. It still rings true as an adult.
Remember that we’re all on this mommy roller coaster together and we all love our children with all our hearts. Last time I checked there wasn’t an instruction booklet for the “right” way to raise our children (and if there is one – can you please pass it my way).
Sometimes the best advice we can offer another mom is to let them know that you think they are a good mom and that her kids are lucky to have her.
…then bit your tongue if you don’t agree with her on every little detail because I’m sure she doesn’t agree with you.
What are some ways that you’ve had respectful debates and discussions with other moms about sensitive topics? Please leave your best tips in the comments below.
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