Being a parent is not easy! There is no manual on how to do it right and there can’t be. Every kid, parent and family is different. So when did it become okay to judge other parents for not doing things the way you do them? Over the last few years I have noticed mothers (and fathers) being shamed for raising their child differently than the “majority” and honestly it pisses me off! (Sorry for the language but I needed to express that!)
When our oldest daughter was born we were pushed not only by the hospital but by other parents to breastfeed. I was a brand new mother, I had a child that would not stay latched and I would pump for over an hour and only get 1 ounce of milk. But because I was constantly told that “breast is best” and to “keep trying because it’s what your baby needs” I spent an entire 6 weeks miserable. Our daughter would cry constantly, I was exhausted and on the verge of a breakdown and my husband would literally drive our daughter around at 2 am just to get her to sleep. It was supposed to be one of the happiest times of our lives and instead we were beyond miserable. Then came our daughter’s 6-week check-up and after discussing what was going on with the pediatrician (he had been doing this job for decades), he told us we needed to get soy formula for her. It was established that she had a VERY sensitive stomach and had colic. I was beyond relieved to have someone tell me that it was okay for me to use formula and not tell me to just keep trying! I was tired of being shamed into being a miserable and exhausted mother. So that day, we left the doctor’s office and went and bought the best soy formula we could. That night was the FIRST night my husband didn’t have to drive our daughter around at 2 am to get her to sleep. That night was the FIRST night that she was a happy and loving baby. That night was the FIRST night that she slept through the ENTIRE night. Today, my child is four years old and extremely smart. She speaks English and Dutch, she is amazing with puzzles, and drawing, she is funny and loving and is the tallest kid for her age. So while some people believe “breast is best”, I believe happy is best! It doesn’t matter if you are breast feeding or formula feeding your child. What matters is your child is getting the nutrition he or she needs and that they are loved and cared for. There is no universal fix for every child!
Something else I have noticed parents, in particular mothers, being shamed for is a child’s sleeping arrangements or habits. Apparently co-sleeping and having your kid sleep trained within a few weeks is supposed to be the norm. Um, excuse me but not everyone is okay with sharing their bed. My kids have NEVER slept in the bed with me. I take my personal relationship with my husband very important, and you probably do too but in our house that means everyone sleeps in their own bed. Now, when our girls were young they did sleep in our room because our bedroom was downstairs and theirs were upstairs. However, they had their own bed. Once our second daughter was born, our oldest was old enough to be in a toddler bed so we put her upstairs in her room and then our youngest moved into our room. Once the night time feedings were done, they got put back into their bed and I went back to my bed. That didn’t make them any less attached than a kid who co-sleeps. That is what worked for our family. What works for your family may be different and that is okay because again, there is no universal fix! As for this sleep training…let’s get this clear. You can try your hardest but your kid is going to do what he or she wants! Once our oldest was put on soy formula she started sleeping through the night and continued to do so (for the most part) even to this day. Our youngest is a whole different story. No matter what we tried, she just would not sleep through the night. We have just now gotten to the point where she will occasionally sleep through the night and she is three years old now! Every kid is different…you got it…there is no universal fix!
Listen, it’s nothing new to have parents who believe strongly one way and other parents who believe strongly the other way. It will be that way until the end of time. What is not acceptable is shaming a mother (or father) for doing something the way that works best for the child, the parents and the family. When did it become okay to make a parent feel so bad that they end up miserable trying to do things the way that society says they should? Shouldn’t we care more that the child is loved and healthy? Why does it matter that the child is formula fed over breast? Is it your child…if not then it’s none of your business why that child is formula fed!
So let me say this parents:
It’s okay to formula feed your child.
It’s okay to breast feed your child.
As long as your child is getting fed then you are doing a good job.
It’s okay if you choose not to co-sleep.
It’s okay if you choose to co-sleep.
As long as your child has a warm and safe place to sleep you are doing a good job.
It’s okay if you choose not to sleep train your child.
It’s okay if you choose to sleep train your child.
As long as you and your child are getting sleep then you are doing a good job.
It’s okay if you are a stay at home mom.
It’s okay if you are a working mom.
As long as your child is cared and loved for each and every day then you are doing a good job.
If our child is loved, cared for, healthy and happy then you are doing a good job!
Quit worrying about what other parents say or think. They are not in your household and do not know your situation. All I ask is that you love your child. That you teach them to be respectful and that you teach them to QUIT JUDGING OTHER PEOPLE! And maybe, just maybe, you can do the same. Let’s start showing support and compassion towards other parents and a whole lot less judgement. Being a parent is the hardest job in this world and it doesn’t get easier with your judgements….only harder!
So let me be the first to say it today, YOU ARE A GREAT PARENT! <3