It takes a village. And a facebook group. And a twitter feed.

I’ve had this post jumbling around in my head for quite some time but never really wrote it because often times when I try to say things like this I end up coming across as a loudmouthed asshole but I feel like SAYING IT is more important than how a few (probably guilty) people will interpret it.

So anyway…

I remember when Cassidy was born I didn’t have the luxury of 100s of online friends helping me through all the stuff that was happening. When she was born, google was still a small little site run out of a garage. Message boards were still crap and chat rooms were full of horny fat me trolling for little girls. So when Cassidy got thrush at two weeks old, I didn’t have twitter or facebook to turn to for questions and support. I went to the ER at 2:00AM freaked out because she screamed every time I tried to feed her. It only took 4 hours to get an answer, a tube of lotion, and a pat on the head.

When she got roseola when she was 8 months old I didn’t have a forum of moms to go to for stories or support and encouragement. I asked my mom, my mother-in-law, and three of her grandmas who all gave me the same answer and told me to stop being a worry wart.

When I got food poisoning and was told to stop breastfeeding till it passed and she would never start back up again and felt like a COMPLETE FAILURE even though I had managed to make it 10 months, I didn’t have an online “shoulder to cry on”.

And really? Lately, I’m almost happy for all of that. Because I feel like more and more I see JUDGMENT when what I hope to see is SUPPORT.

Heaven forbid a woman say she isn’t going to breastfeed, or that she’s going to breastfeed till the child is a toddler, or has a birth plan that includes an epidural, or chooses a home birth, or chooses to try and let her baby “cry it out”, or wears her baby 24/7, or lets the child sleep in bed with them, or wants to cloth diaper, YOU GET THE IDEA. It seems that no matter WHAT you choose to do, there is another mother (or even NON-parent) out there that thinks you are wrong and is going to loudly tell you how you aren’t doing it right. And I’m just TIRED of it.

TIRED OF IT.

Tired of reading tweets that liken crying it out to ABUSE. Tired of facebook updates that say women that choose c-sections are stupid and lazy. Tired of hearing women say they feel like BAD PARENTS because of the things that other women are saying to them about their choices.

So here’s the thing. HAVE an opinion. I encourage that! But please, PLEASE don’t be catty jackasses when you are handing out that information and be aware that it’s JUST an opinion. Just because you believe that something is right for YOU does not mean it is right for EVERYBODY. I am very pro-breastfeeding. I believe that it’s best for mom and baby to do it for as long as you possibly can but there have been plenty of times that I’ve encouraged and supported new moms that have chosen to bottle feed… for whatever reason. Because it’s not okay for me to EVER make another parent feel bad for a decision they have made about their own child.[1. Unless I think there is actual physical harm being caused to the child.]

I feel like we have this amazing opportunity to be a helpful community, a safety net, a backbone of support for each other from all over the world. We can support, encourage, nurture and help each other on this REALLY HARD journey of parenthood and we’d all be so much better off if we could remember that and one simple thing: respect each other. Period.

Remember at the other end of that tweet or forum post or status update is a fellow parent that is tired, frustrated, confused, scared, WORN OUT and they need support, not judgment.

/steps down off soapbox.

29 thoughts on “It takes a village. And a facebook group. And a twitter feed.

  1. I can’t tell if it’s just a coincidence that you posted this on the same day my mom and I had a disagreement on introducing solid foods early, but I’ll just assume the best and say that it is and hope that this isn’t directed toward me. If it is, I will say outright that I never intend to pass any judgment on anyone, and I apologize if anyone feels that I did. :\

    I completely agree that no one should say there’s a right or wrong way to do anything related to raising children. Different things work for different families, and I think it’s important for people to realize that.

    I shared an article that showed a link between introducing solid foods at an early age to babies who have been formula fed and a higher rate of obesity, and my mom took it as an attack on her parenting skills. Obviously, my mom did something right, as all three of her kids ended up normal, fairly healthy adults. I won’t be doing some of the same things she did, though, and she has a very hard time coming to terms with that – I’ve seen the way she reacts to a lot of the choices my brother and sister-in-law make in regards to their daughter.

    And I’ve seen that a lot in interactions between parents and non-parents – the throwing up of the hands and the “well, what do I know, I’ve only *raised* 3 kids!” kind of thing (to quote my mom “But I’m just the mother.”) And it’s a horrible thing for people to do. It completely belittles the opinion of the non-parent, no matter how researched or well-intended it is, and it makes them feel like their opinion isn’t valid just because they don’t have the trial and experience behind it. I’ve done a lot of research, I’ve read a lot of opinions, I’ve deeply thought about a lot of my decisions – but these types of people are saying since I haven’t tried any of them out I have no idea what I’m doing? It’s infuriating.

    Instead of building a community with other mothers (and non-mothers), a community built on discussion and advice and support, we’re alienating each other. It’s ridiculous. No two people are going to agree 100% of the time on every decision each makes in regards to their child, and that’s understandable. But if we agree even 30% of the time, why can’t we band together a little and support each other for at least that 30% of the time, instead of being completely against each other 100% of the time?

    No mother should ever feel like she’s less of a mother because of a decision she makes for her child.

    1. It didn’t have anything to do with it at all. I’ve had this post half written for probably a month then after talking to Lisa about it last week, decided to go ahead and finish it up and post it. It’s just taken a few days to find the time to do that!

      I completely agree about building a community of support! I wish that more people had that attitude. I really want that for parents because, believe me, it only gets HARDER as they get older!

    2. I have to second this. I’m not a parent, so I don’t have the experience piece, but I’ve done insane amount of research and reading and just about everything I can to prepare FOR that point in my life, including far more developmental learning courses and tasks than most folks who are parents. It doesn’t mean that I can’t have an opinion or any true insight into good techniques in raising a child just because I haven’t done it, right? Owning a dog without reading anything regarding how they learn or interpret the world isn’t necessarily any more wise than a person who has attended classes and read numerous articles and books in an effort to prepare for their new puppy. I guess I’m just saying.. I totally get it. If I ever find something interesting (to me) or enlightening (to me) on rearing a child and talk about it — if it’s the opposite of what a current parent has chosen for their own child, they throw up their defenses and attack me for evening bringing up a kid-related-topic before I’ve got one of my own! It’s silly.

  2. If this was Facebook I would like this post. Seriously. I have been on the receiving end of the criticism and it SUCKS and I still feel like a failure at times for not doing this or doing that. Then I think and look at my beautiful, healthy child and know I’m doing something right because she’s happy and so I am.

    All I can say is people need to parent the best that they can. It’s fine to give advice, facts, statistics, etc, but when it comes to calling people lazy, bad-parents, etc. you come across as a self righteous bitch, to be completely honest. (You as in general, not you directly obviously)

  3. I am so glad you posted this! Nobody wakes up in the morning and says “hey, I think I’ll be a shitty parent today.” The vast majority of parents do everything they can with the resources and knowledge they have available to them, and they do everything they do in love. Shaming them for decisions and techniques simply because they are different from the decisions YOU would make and the techniques YOU would use is petty and mean.

    “chat rooms were full of horny fat me trolling for little girls”

    LOVE. THIS. TYPO WHY WERE YOU TROLLING THE INTERNET FOR LITTLE GIRLS, HORNY FAT ANNA? YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN CARING FOR YOUR BAYBAY!

      1. It also allowed me to paste a (fake) snarky comment about your parenting skills on a post about how we should be less judgemental and more supportive of parents. TURBO WIN!

  4. Ive had a similar post brewing for about a year now. There seem to be certain people online who think they know EVERYTHING and if you do something different then you’re the worst parent in the world. I’ve actually unfriended someone for their opinion on my way of parenting. I don’t like to be called ‘evil’ because of something I thought was right and actually worked at the time. People just need to shut up and leave people alone.

  5. Thank you, Anna. I have ALWAYS felt like I’ve had to defend myself for having c-sections and feeding both my girls formula.

    People always assume the worst, it’s sickening. Jordan was an emergency c-section or she would have died, and Marley was a repeat due to the fact that I’d already had one and I was considered morbidly obese therefor the best plan for us at the time in the opinion of the doctors.

    Things like this are probably the biggest reason why I left the message board world, blogging, etc. I even simply removed ‘friendships’ with a lot of people* I interacted with since Jordan was born because it was obvious if they talked about other people so openly and were so judgmental that they would do the same about me.

    I don’t miss them, or their holier than thou attitudes at all.

    So, thanks again for posting this 🙂

    *some people I simply lost contact with, it wasn’t intentional on my part… like Lisa(leesuh!!!) I always wondered where you were these days 🙂

  6. I love that you wrote this so, so much.

    In my women’s studies class in college, this was actually a topic we discussed. You would think the combination of motherhood and the chance to group and bond with mothers worldwide via forums, Twitter, Facebook, etc. would really help but all it seems to have done, generally, is polarize women and mothers and pit them against each other.

    There IS no “right” way to raise a child; you do the best you can, make decisions about what you feel is best as a parent and hope your child grows up happy and healthy. Shit, kids have survived eating dirt and being dropped just fine.

  7. I’m not even a parent yet, and some of the “support” I see already turns my stomach for the worst and makes me feel like I’d be a shitty parent. Then I remember that i’m fucking awesome and will know what is best for MY child than someone online who disagrees with me.

    Love the post. It’s awesome you Fat Troll. That totally made my day.

  8. Amen. I think you really hit the nail on the head about the fact that it’s one thing to have an opinion but it’s completely another thing to chastise and tell someone they are a horrible parent for not doing things the way they think is right.

    My sister and I were adopted and therefore were brought up on formula. My mother really didn’t have many options but she did the best she could. You do the best you can given the options you have at your disposal and I think in the end that is all anyone can ask for.

  9. Good for you! From a parent who has been less than perfect, and received a fair share of “advice”, I lend my support to your rant. I love your mind (as well as the rest of your being!)

  10. It’s really nice to read a post (and comments!) like this. Being a parent is hard as hell, and the constant judgment from others really doesn’t help.

    Well said, Anna. I like to believe we’re all just doing the best we can.

  11. I’m not a parent and I would never argue a parents choice of anything (unless of course it’s obviously harming the child). If I ever to have a child the internet would be the last place I would personally go for advice. I have lots of good friends who have kids and my parents and other family. I know they are just as likely to disagree, but it would be more of asking for advice and getting it then being criticized by people who don’t know me. And that in itself would be a parental choice. I have seen my mom and brother disagree on things already, but it’s mentioned then left alone. And I have never commented negatively against anything he’s decided to do. It’s his baby, it’s his choice. And I know that a lot of my ideas are not necessarily the choice most people make. Like I am for breastfeeding, but would most likely either get a breast pump or have formula as well after the first few months, for a few reasons. This is a great post!

  12. Great post! I completely agree, and I’m not quite sure why it’s so hard for people to just get along?! XD ps. Typing a comment on the phone is hurrrrd! D:

  13. THANK YOU! 🙂 What an incredible post.

    Seems like a new mom can’t do anything without 438974985 people offering opinions on how SHE’S DOING IT WRONG. Or having some smug mom talk about how SHE’S doing everything perfect and everyone else should follow her lead. Annoying!

    I see so many moms, not just new moms, but all kinds of moms, beating themselves up because they’ve read something or they were told that a certain way was the right way and it didn’t happen that way for them. It makes me sad.

  14. Yeah, I think we put ourselves down enough for what we aren’t able to do without other people doing it without knowing as much about the circumstances behind our choices.

  15. Well said! I am not a parent, but I have to agree with you. You know as a parent what is right and wrong for your child. If others don’t like it, tough! You are the parent, not them.

  16. So, I don’t have a child, so I should probably shut up — but I almost side with you for other weird reasons and thought, based on the title, that’s what this would be about but it wasn’t, lol.

    I commend you. I commend parents who didn’t have the resources we have now, and had to go it on their own, seeking help and answers and putting forth effort to raise their children.

    Lately – and maybe it’s just my Twitter feed or something – I have seen a trend of women who aren’t prepared to be parents, leaning on the interwebs for resources. They can’t make a decision until they’ve tweeted it 19 times, they won’t call a doctor or Google symptoms because they’d rather everyone on their FB figure it out for them, they’ll beg for freebies and giftcards and post their sob stories about money simply because they had a baby before they had the finances to support the baby and they certainly don’t want to consider a JOB or anything, etc. And these same women/families who decide to have babies when they can barely afford rent are the same ones Twittering how WIC and welfare is the best thing ever and everyone should try signing up! It’s like they wanted the attention of the baby and the ability to blog/tweet/talk/judge others/post anything they feel as a FACT without respecting other women’s choices (like you’ve stated) — but they don’t want to put their own common sense and effort into raising these children.

    Argh, am I making sense? Basically, thanks for not being a lame ass Anna. <3

  17. Everything about this post had me shaking my head in total agreement. I have been throw so many online parenting groups and forums and it is just like you are saying. A community of mother should be supporting other moms and not bashing decisions. I posted a post once about best products for diaper rash and got attacked about naming my daughter ‘Cricket’. And it was not the last time it happened. I tend to stay away from places like cafemom because I see that kinda of thing happening to all kinds of mothers. Teenage mothers who go on for support hoping to find it in older moms and get yelled out and preached to about getting pregnant young and blah blah blah- these ladies went to you for help, probably because their own mothers and close adult female role models didn’t want to help them and you’re going to do the same.

  18. I agree whole heartedly. It’s ridiculous how many people want to preach about what they think is right and what you’re doing wrong.

    I am not a mom yet and it astounds me how many people think they know better than the person in that situation. They don’t and shouldn’t pretend to.

    Everyone is different, everyone has a different parenting style and there’s nothing wrong with that. People need to realize that what they do won’t always work for someone else and if you can’t be supportive about their choices and offer an opinion short of, “Well you’re wrong, that’s not what I did.”

    Then STFU.

    /end rant

  19. AMEN. This is awesome. Just yesterday, I was folding laundry in the other room while my husband’s mother told him that feeding our 15 week old baby food vegetables this early will make him obese for life. I fumed in the other room, literally, holding my tongue and whipping the clothes I was folding into their respective spots in the bedroom.

    It’s one thing to have an opinion, I agree, but don’t make others feel horrible for disagreeing with you, or for doing something you wouldn’t.

    I cloth diaper. I LOVE it. Do I criticize those who don’t use cloth diapers and make them feel cruddy? Heck no. To each his/her own. I breast feed, but I also formula feed. I feel like anyone who tells me that’s wrong can suck it (not literally, ew)! I was about ready to hide when said MIL found out we were using both the breast and the bottle three days later. And heaven forbid the bottles are PLASTIC. Oh no! They’re BPA free, but apparently, still a sin.

    Ah well.

    Well said. Kudos. Thank you!

  20. You go girl. I’m not a mother yet, I don’t even have a stable relationship, BUT thank you for blogging about this. I agree with your stance on support instead of judgement.

    And the typo? *giggle*

  21. I very much agree with your post. I myself am not a parent so I cannot even begin to comprehend trying to tell another person how to raise their children, but to say that someone shouldn’t do something just because they wouldn’t isn’t right. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and everyone has their own idea of parenthood and how they want to do it, and that should be up to them (minus physical harm to the child, obviously lol). It is nice though to see when others give their support when someone is going through a hard time or needs advice, as long as it is done in a positive manner it is awesome to see.

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