Seriously… that’s a whole lot of angry mommy war ammunition right there. And a whole lot of passionate, defensive mothers. I, myself, am not a big attachment parenting advocate, obviously. I prefer to think of myself as realistically thoughtful in my parenting approach. And that’s worked for me so far.
My biggest problem with both sides of this debate is how angry and judgemental we get when dissecting someone else’s parenting choices. Erica Jong, spouting your opinion is your job, but your broad mommy generalizations were unfair and inaccurate. Collective helicopter-parenting community, you are not better than everyone else. (No, seriously. You’re not. I’m sorry.)
To childless adults it must seem ridiculous that women get so emotional and angry when discussing their parenting decisions. Even to me, I marvel at our insecurities. But if you’ll all forgive me for going a little Oprah-ish, insecurity does seem to drive this debate. Face it, we all try our hardest to do what we think is best for our children and our family. Most of us do not intentionally hurt our children. So all of this, ‘You should…’ and ‘Why aren’t you…’ makes us a little crazy. It makes us doubt our choices and our ability. That’s a pretty crappy feeling. It’s a feeling that most people seem to respond to by lashing out and getting defensive. Hence, the very hurtful things that lots of people say when discussing parenting techniques.
One time, when writing about something as trivial as baby slings, a commenter told me that she felt sorry for my daughter, because I didn’t love her. Seriously… I said that I don’t like baby slings and my daughter now deserves pity. I didn’t say that I didn’t wear a sling because it was fun to drop Brenna on her head. I don’t like slings because I either carry my daughter or I put her down. The in-between part didn’t work for me. (I may have snarkily commented on their obnoxious trendiness and some questionable consumer safety reports, but still…) And to that random (and obviously hostile) internet commenter, congratulations. Your anger worked. I felt like shit. Not because I thought that I was wrong, but because I had seriously offended mothers who were obviously just trying to do what worked for them and their child.
Seriously, mad mothers are a scary breed. Not because that pitbull with lipstick from Alaska compares us to carnivorous wild animals, because we’re fighting for our sanity and our own personal justification. So Ms. Jong, I don’t really agree with you. I don’t think modern mothers are imprisoned victims simply because their children are a main priority in their life. And to the collective ‘tsk-tsk’ers out there, I don’t think you have the right to impose your personal mothering philosophy on the rest of us. No, I didn’t mash my own baby food. That doesn’t mean that I loved my daughter any less.
So maybe we should all stop trying to tell each other where we’re going wrong, and spend some time celebrating the ways we’re getting it right. Let’s encourage the women who need it and praise the mothers who deserve it. Maybe their way isn’t our way, but they are finding a system that functions for their family. And honestly, that’s a pretty big achievement.