Last week, at the Mom 2.0 Summit in Arizona, I led the “Sisterhood of Motherhood” roundtable discussion with Lindsy Delco from Abbott Nutrition. “Sisterhood of Motherhood” is the name of Similac’s campaign which went viral earlier this year. If you haven’t seen the video, it’s amazing and you should watch it now.
I think the reason that video did so well is a) because it makes fun of the so-called “mom wars” and b) because it features moms and dads with all different parenting styles coming together to save a runaway stroller with the tagline “parents first”. That’s a sentiment I’ve heard on my Facebook page when one very astute mom commented, “We don’t have to parent the same to get along.”
The idea behind “The Sisterhood of Motherhood” is to help parents feel supported instead of judged, something that should be obvious but unfortunately is not the way many moms feel when they try to voice their parenting opinions online.
I consider myself pretty lucky to have avoided most of the controversy I come across in the mom space. But then I think that’s because I am not particularly confident in my parenting style. I’m actually not even sure I have a parenting style (unless lazy counts), so it’s harder for people to insult me when I fully admit I have no idea what I am doing.
There have been times I’ve been attacked but mainly that’s when my posts are syndicated on larger sites than my own. After a few experiences with less than pleasant feedback, I learned to NEVER EVER EVER read comments on large news aggregate sites. Those comments are always peppered with trolls who think it’s fun to insult the writer and then sit back to watch everyone go nuts.
How do I know this?
Because I have had slideshows of cute baby photos go live and people have called those babies ugly. I have written about a two-year-old’s tantrums and been told my child has mental issues. I have talked about pumping at work and been told working moms can’t breastfeed. If commenters will stoop so low as to call a baby ugly or say my two-year-old is mental, than I can’t take them seriously. And I’m am not going to listen when they criticize working moms or my choice to use a pacifier either.
For the most part, I have chosen to keep my personal stories on Mommy Shorts, which to me, still feels like a safe place. I am perfectly open to criticism and guidance when I believe those words are coming from a good place. All the commenters on my blog, my facebook page and my instagram account have been incredibly supportive throughout the years and they give me hope that all moms can find non-judgmental support online if they look for it.
Of course, there are times when judgement finds us regardless. Like the time someone commented on my facebook page that I was murdering babies by writing about my sleep training experience. I don’t mind disagreement but that statement is so hostile, I banned that woman from ever commenting again. And I lost no sleep over it later. Especially when my sleep trained baby was sleeping soundly in the other room. People with extreme parenting views don’t seem to understand that what works for one kid doesn’t necessarily work for another.
One thing that came up at the roundtable I thought was interesting was how “the mom wars” effect new parents as opposed to parents who are on their second or third or fourth kid. I said I thought the tide was turning and “the mom wars” was becoming more of a dated controversy. That’s when the new moms stepped in and said it was alive and well.
My takeaway is that new moms are more sensitive than more seasoned moms (I know I was) and thus, more likely to get upset at someone taking a perceived dig at their parenting style. And because many new moms need reassurance (whether they realize it or not), they might accidentally call out another mom’s parenting in an effort to feel better about themselves. (Also, some people are just assholes and I’m sorry if you’ve ever encountered one of those.)
So, I’ll say this. The mom wars may not go away, but as your kids get older, you will care less and less about what other people think. So, in some respect, at least in your own world, parenting judgement will be a thing of the past.
In the meantime, I hope “The Sisterhood of Motherhood” is a good reminder that there is not one right way to parent.
If there was, I’m pretty sure it would be written in stone and that’s what we would all be doing. Parenting, unfortunately, is not that easy.
This post was sponsored by Similac’s The Sisterhood of Motherhood, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.