I’m not interested in who is right or wrong in the Mommy/Mummy Wars. I don’t think many of us are.
Do you know what I’m most interested in? The big picture. The condition of our culture at this point in history. The social change percolating. The war is just a symptom of what’s going on. Where are we all going on this massive trip?
Clearly it’s never cool to judge and hate other mothers. We can cry out for a ceasefire but that doesn’t overcome the reason why war broke out in the first place. I believe it has something to do with that colossal beast called Mother Guilt. No-one wants to be told that they’re not parenting well enough. No matter what kind of parent we are.
Until we overcome and heal Mother Guilt, we cannot overcome the war.
By why is Mother Guilt at boiling point right now?
There’s a new kid on the block: attachment parenting. It embraces the science of mother-infant attachment, which believes emotional attunement to babies is nourishing for their brains and hearts. It’s been well accepted by academics for decades, and has gradually gained momentum in practice in recent years.
When a new parenting movement gains momentum, suddenly mainstream is challenged. Guilt brews up. Values are confronted. Wounds are opened. Someone must be blamed. Bang! You’ve got yourself a war.
“In a nutshell, the very existence of this new parenting style has pushed red-hot buttons everywhere. I think that is perfectly understandable. A breastfeeding toddler must surely be an outlandish and provocative image to people who have never seen or even imagined such a thing. And as today’s early childhood information rains down upon us in ever bigger downpours, millions of parents worldwide are affronted: ‘You are telling me about things I did not and could do for my child – so you are telling me I was not a good enough parent!’. And, as if that were not insult enough: ‘You are telling me that my parents were not good enough, that they damaged me – Oh my God! Am I damaged goods?’”
So at the heart of this war is a clash of cultures with lashings of Mother Guilt. Add in the media looking for a provocative story and it isn’t surprising that mothers are pitted against each other.
Where are we going on this trip?
Robin Grille’s article goes on to explain his theory of where our parenting clashes are heading. Basically he believes society will absorb the science, and children’s rights and emotions will be valued more. Personally, I think any time we value children more as a society, we all will be happier and healthier too.
So in the meantime, how can we live more peaceably with each other?
We can be compassionate. No matter how we parent, we need to be compassionate to ALL Mother Guilt. When someone judges you, it’s their pain talking. Listen to that pain and be kind to it. Don’t participate in the hatred and the anger. Wish them well and get on with healing ourselves.
We can choose to not take things personally. Whatever choices someone makes about parenting are NOT an implied judgment on our choices. Just because someone says they respect their children, doesn’t imply you don’t respect yours. Many people explain their views because they’re simply excited about them, or feel misunderstood. Either way, choose not to take it personally.
We can empower ourselves with perspective. Parenting styles are on a spectrum. All of us are sitting on that spectrum somewhere between conservative to progressive, between detached to attached, between control to connection. At the moment the majority of culture is hovering over the conservative area. This doesn’t mean most people are wrong or don’t love their children, it’s simply stating an inherited historical legacy. You can choose to sit anywhere on that spectrum. You can choose labels or no labels.
We can empower ourselves with facts. We can refuse to believe the sensational misinformation being peddled by the media. Attachment parenting has been demonised and misrepresented in this war. Most attachment parents are just normal people who are making a conscious choice to be attuned and responsive to their children. Most don’t follow rules or care about labels. And most don’t think they are better than anyone else.
We all love and cherish our children. We want the best for them. And we’re doing the best job we can do with our available resources. You are the best parent for your children.
We all benefit when we are gentle with ourselves and gentle with others. But most of all when we are gentle with our children.