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Tired of having to justify my choices!

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 
This is similar to another post about conflicting parenting styles among friends, but I have another point to bring up and thought I'd post it as a new thread. I often find that my parenting style is very different from my friends. I agree with what Gena said in the other thread, that I try not to judge and simply see it as a difference in styles, but it can be hard, especially when I feel a friend is doing damage to her child. I would have a hard time remaining friendly with someone like that. More often than not, I feel that friends are doing a disservice to their children rather than damage, for example, if they're giving in to whining or tantrums, or letting them watch hours of tv, etc. The most difficult, and often infuriating, part of the whole thing is that I often find myself put in the position of defending or justifying my choices when others are not made to do the same. For example, I was often asked why I chose to breastfeed (especially as my daughter was over a year old), but how often are other mothers asked why they chose to bottlefeed? I actually once responded to such a question like that, and the mother looked at me completely puzzled, as though breastfeeding is an unusual choice and bottlefeeding is just a given. I've found myself justifying such things as my decision not to yell, not to let my child watch commercial television, not to buy electronic toys (you know, the kind that require little from the child other than pressing a button), even not to feed my child junk food on a regular basis. I mean, not to sound as though I have a superiority complex, but aren't those all healthy choices??? I'd love to see people explaining why they DO give their kids M&Ms and Oreos on a daily basis, or why they let their kids watch four hours of television a day. It really drives me crazy. I guess it's a sad statement about mainstream parenting, because it seems to me that many moms I meet just sort of do what "everyone else" is doing without ever considering why or whether it is good for their children. Does anyone else notice this sort of thing?
post #2 of 54
You know, you are so right. We as parents who have made these, healthy, common- sense (at least to us, right?), choices for our kids are often called on to defend them, or to atleast explain them, like we are the ones doing st questionable. It is a shame that not letting my dd drink soda is st I have to explain over and over, instead of the other way around! We go to gymnastics and ballet, and after class, my dd's 2 friends always get a soda from the machine . My dd never does, and EVERY darn week, dd gets these pitying look from the moms while their dd's gleefully drink their sugar sodas! They ask "Why can't she have a soda?" Why should she , seems like a more appropriate ? to me!

Sorry, I just had to vent, this reallyt got me thinking!

BTw, she has a special bottle of water she carries around, so she won't feel left out.

It is a sad statememt about mainstream parenting, and to answer your ?, I have noticed it, and it drives me batty!
post #3 of 54

Hello girls

Even the most well meaning friends and parents strike me as ignorant sometimes. I am constantly defending my choices too. My son Donovan is three now, and he had his first taste of dairy and refined sugar at the age of one and a half when I left him with a friend. She thought I was being paranoid when I expressed my concerns and wishes. My husband's ex-boss called Donovan's cookies "dog biscuits" when she saw the box. Why? Because they were organic and made with natural ingredients. My entire family thought I was stark raving mad when I told them not to bother giving him candy or sugar. Sometimes they would even ignore me all together and I would find out that they'd slipped him some chewing gum behind my back. It never ceases to amaze me the way people react when I tell them we don't watch t.v. and that Donovan does not believe in Santa Claus. They say I'm "depriving" him of a normal childhood. I don't even tell anyone that he still breastfeeds...or that I'm considering homeschooling.
And that's just the tip of the iceburg!
post #4 of 54


Amen, peacemama. Exactly. It is a mystery why people don't use their brains and reason things out!
post #5 of 54
I'm going to go out on a limb here. I think that there are a few ways to live and that we all do some combination of them. We can actively decide something - by weighing consequences, thinking hard, parying, doing research - however we choose things. Or else we can do what everyone else does. For the most part, I think, cultural things don't appear as choices until we have some reason to question them. So while I also come here because it is a place where opinions are honored and experiences shared and a good place to vent, I don't like to make a negative type of boundary against certain parenting styles. It seems really harsh to me to put someone down because they do things that "everyone else does" or just perpetuating the way they were raised. Either they have thought about it and chosen that path for their own reasons, or else they haven't come into a place where the questions have occured to them yet. Believe me I know what its like to go against the mainstream and it is very hard. I know that very often people are harsh to those to aren't mainstream and it is so tempting to respond in kind, even in our thoughts, but we have to face the fact that we are closing ourselves to them and their opinions. It has always been, throughout history, that those who question authority, who live "eccentrically" cause great change to happen - its the only way, really - nothing changes if everyone does things the same.
post #6 of 54

Hello Again,

There have been some good points to counterbalance the points of views here. I agree with Blessedx4, and I wanted to say that it was not my intention to come off sounding superior. I realize though that usually happens anyway when you're talking about your kids! Let me add that all of the incidents I mentioned before happened 3 years ago. I remember them because I was extremely sensitive when my son was an infant, I was 23 and I admit that I cared about what people thought of my mothering. I still do, but I have more confidence now, so I can let things roll off my back. In fact I really learned valuable lessons from the people who have different parenting styles than I do. I am opinionated to be sure, but I do not preach.
I would be hypocritical and ignorant if I got up on my soap box and started critisizing other moms, not to mention alienating myself from potential friends.
P.S. I just found out that George Harrison died...he was my favorite Beatle.

post #7 of 54
Thread Starter 
I knew I'd get some interesting replies to this one!

I really never meant to sound as though I'm standing in judgment of my friends' parenting styles; my gripe was with the fact that I'm always the one who seems to be questioned, rather than the other way around. To tell the truth, I would never ask a friend of mine to justify anything she did with her children because it's none of my business! I just find it kind of interesting that people seem to be so uncomfortable with things that I feel are obviously healthy choices, even if they are not so mainstream.

I am not an extremist in any sense of the word, and I allow many things in moderation, like television (mostly PBS, though ), sweet treats, and yes, we have plenty of -gasp!- plastic toys in our house! I myself have a very hard time with anyone who gets so extreme that they look down on anything that is not completely "AP." Although I like the sound of "attachment parenting," I hesitate to use labels, because we are all different people. A friend told me a story of a mom who actually shrieked in terror when she saw her little one's hand reach for a non-organic cracker at a play date, as though the child were about to eat a tarantula. That's just going a bit overboard.

I have lots of friends whose styles are radically different than my own, and we simply respect each others' choices. If someone wants to ask questions out of curiosity, that's great, I'm happy to share. It's when people look at me like I'm depriving my daughter because she has never had a time-out or because she's not allowed to drink soda that I get kind of annoyed. Anyway, I'm getting a bit long-winded, but that's what's going on in my head!
post #8 of 54
I just read a great quote today of Eleanor Roosevelt's.

"Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't."

I guess that's all any of us can do-including the more mainstream mommies.

Why do we have to defend our way of parenting?

I think there are at least two reasons:

1. We aren't mainstream, we don't do what "everyone" else is doing and it frequently looks to others as if we are making parenting hard on ourselves.

2. I think most parents are intelligent and instinctively know that plopping your kid in front of the tv instead of reading them a book is not good for them. They know that m&m's and soda are not doing anything positive for their childs health and are probably actually damaging it.

So, when they meet someone who is making the effort to not do those things, they feel guilty and get defensive by making you defend your beliefs. It's just human nature.

Having said that, my kids had m&m's and soda this week, and have been watching way beyond their share of tv due to the ravages of debilitating morning sickness.:

When I realized guilt was the motivator for all the judgemental comments and questions, I quit defending myself. I just direct the curious towards research materials. (Unless they are truly interested, it's easy to tell who's who).
post #9 of 54

This used to be one of my pet peeves...

...when I was a nanny and care provider!

I would dream up huge and informative and eloquent speeches that I would have LOVED to toss at parents who would allow their kids to turn into absolute horrors, and would think that I possessed some kind of weird 'magic touch' because the kids would actually behave like civilized human beings when they were with me!

However, I'm EXTREMELY glad I kept my mouth shut. I endured many sleepless nights and stomach pains because of it, but ultimately, I don't know of anyone who's been able to change another person's parenting style through convincing argument. I learned to smile and bite my tongue. A lot.

One of the things that finally relaxed me though, was just realizing that every parent puts up with what they're willing to put up with--and then I can let it go. I mean, hey, if the kids whining and throwing tantrums and jumping up and down on top of the table at the restaurant doesn't bother them (or it doesn't enough for them to actually STOP it), then they're the ones who have to deal with it, not me! When people have treated me rudely because I marched the kids right out of the restaurant or store when they threw a major tantrum, I just smiled and shrugged, but I probably have thicker skin than most. I'm already taking heat for my choices for my soon-to-be-here daughter, such as cloth diapering and BFing, but I'm very fortunate to live in an area where that's actually supported by and large, my friends all know better than to try to tell me what to do rudely, and I have absolutely no qualms about telling relatives (politely) to mind their own business.

Of course, this calm collectedness has been out the window for the last month, as I'm in my 9th month, and watching my niece be allowed to run wild all over my house (while parents turned a blind eye and pretty much left me and my husband to put a stop to the destruction) got me extremely annoyed. But I can blame that on the hormones, right?

I guess I see almost ANY parenting choices as under attack in our society--we don't live in a very child-friendly one, that's for sure. If you read fluff magazines like Parents and Child, it's sadly amusing how many contradictory articles on nutrition, discipline, and even horribly inaccurate developmental information you can find all in the same issue! Parents are spoiling their kids if they AP, they're abusive/ignorant if they don't. No wonder everyone gets testy when they see someone NOT doing what they're doing!

One of the coolest things I've noticed about APer or AP-ish-ers that I know personally is that they're very inclusive of others, confident in their choices, and seem to just like hanging out with other families, regardless of parenting styles. The relaxed atmosphere seems to get everyone to loosen up, and I've seen real differences come of that! Plus, the folks I know are pragmatic, more oriented towards the spirit of things rather than 'You must do A, B, and C to parent well'. Thank gods for that!

I'm sorry that you have to deal with rude people. But you know, I bet you'd get dirty looks even if you were stuffing fudge-stripe cookies into your kids' mouth every time it opened, and batted your eyelashes lovingly at them while they played hide and seek amongst crowded cafe tables. I wish there was some concrete way that we could collectively convince parents to treat *each other* better in general!!

Just think, when their kids are bottoming out from the giant sugar crash, or screaming out the latest hard-wired response to the fad ads, you can be doing something fun like an art project, extra nursing cuddles, or eavesdropping on your kids' creativity without hearing one marketing punchline! Not too bad of a trade-off, even if you have to listen to whiners/naysayers along the way.

But, man, you're right. It's just plain old ANNOYING/FRUSTRATING having to deal with it. Ugh.
post #10 of 54
You are so right that we are asked to explain things which are healthy choices, while others are given free reign to go with mainstream parenting and never have to question why.

The older ds gets, however, the less bothered I am by what others do. Within reason, I find now that with some basics in line, I can pretty well accept how others raise their kids.

Our experience has been so unusual. I would have been a big time organic mama. I would have been alot of things I am not had we not gone through the medical experiences related to ds' heart defects. I read all the books and knew all the reasons, and had a super homebirth, and did not vaccinate, am against circ, and very pro breastfeeding.

But life happened, breastfeeding to my horror failed, despite knowing all the reasons why it should not, and when formula magically put weight on him I was thrilled. And pretty shocked it didn't kill him! When things settled down and life went on, I have found that we do things, which surprise by other ap friends, and I just don't care.

Why do we have t.v.? Because ds never slept without waking 4 times a night his first two years, typical after anethsesia, I was determined to stay home, and damn it when he finally sat down and watched a Raffi video it was the first stretch of sleep I got.

Why do we have candy and Burger King? Because seeing my kid survive the most wretched medicine regimines made M & M's look like purified water. I *cant* freak over candy, because I would never believe he could survive half a bottle of baby aspirin a day (yes, he actually had that for 2 weeks after his last surgery, and it worked as expected and he did great). Let alone a 6 week antibiotic course as a newborn.

I know this is not everyone's experience. We are still very aware and we limit how much of this stuff we have. But we have alot more than our other ap friends.

Truly I cannot "sweat the small stuff" anymore, and it has helped me better understand mainstream parenting in general. So long as my friends love their kids, and are really trying to do what they think is best, and are making the child the priority, I can overlook alot more than I thought I could.

Just my 2c

post #11 of 54
I think one of the last things heartmamma said is at the heart of this whole topic:

Make the child the priority.

The thing that upsets me most is seeing any parent showing a lack of respect, concern, and priority towards a child. YES, we are SUPPOSED to sacrafice for our offspring, but the rewards make up for it X 1000!

As long as I know my son is my #1 priority and my parenting choices reflect that, I can handle the criticism or questioning with a superior smirk, because I am superior . . . no one can be a better mother to my son than me!

And yes it is frustrating when you know you have made important, life affecting decisions after careful and intelligent thought, research, etc., only to have some "default" type parent question your choice.

post #12 of 54
This may sound a little trite, but it's the only way I can think of to say it:

If you dislike justifying your parenting choices~ don't!

Even though my baby hasn't been born yet, there are certain subjects I know my family and friends and I will not agree on. So I do not bring them up in conversation, and I avoid conversations in which they might come up.

For instance: I made the mistake of mentioning to my cousin Becky when her son was born that if we had a boy, we weren't going to circumcize him. Well, after listening to all her reasons why I should (okay, her reason: UTIs), I finally just said, "Well, we'll let you know how it turns out."

On a much milder front, we have decided not to share our choice of a little girl's name with my family until/if she is born and it is a done deed. Why? Because no one in the family is shy in offering opinions. That, and 'Bobbie' won't just be the name of our daughter, it is also my husband's nickname (well, Bobby), and also Becky's husband's name and her older son's name. I'm not "stealing" it, I just feel I have a right to it as much as Becky does. So if we have a girl, they will be presented with a fait acompli. "Here's our daughter, her name is Bobbie Catharine Doyle, please call her Cathy to help avoid confusion." Will we hear about it anyway? Probably. But I already know we'll refuse to be drawn into discussions of it.

One thing I discovered early on in life is that a vague, polite smile gets you far. At my last OB appointment, when the doctor said that if I had seen her earlier in the pregnancy, she'd have 'made' me take the triple serum screen test (which Bobby & I made the decision not to have the day we found out about its existence), I could have debated with the woman about the accuracy of the test (especially since my baby's exact gestational age is not known). Instead, I simply smiled at her politely until she wound down, and we got on with the appointment.

Of course, it would be wonderful if you could look upon every "Why do you..." question as an opening to educate. A lot of times it is asked out of curiosity or because the questioner considered doing it him/herself and wants to know if it's the right decision to make. I know a woman who greets every question abut her breastfeeding or her birth experiences as an opportunity to pontificate & explain why she does things the way she does. She wants to 'convert' people to her way of thinking, or at the least let them know there's another way to do things. I respect that greatly, but there's no way I'd have the patience to do the same!
post #13 of 54
I am half-asleep so won't write alot but I think that a lot of times people harrass other people's parenting choices because they are threatened. I know a lot of people are VERY offended that we don't let Elijah eat any sugar. Why? I have no clue. Maybe because they realize that loading their kids up with crap at 10 months of age isn't really good for them but they don't have the willpower to withhold it. Or maybe they just think I'm nuts! A lot of people are bothered by how quickly we respond and that we don't let him cry. Again I think it's because they are threatened that they do not do the same for their child and they know they should. I don't really bother defending my parenting choices. I just state this is the way it is and don't bother getting into it. The greatest satisfaction is when people cut you up and then come back later and say that's really working well for you isn't it?
post #14 of 54
I'm with Sagesgirl, I am not very fond of explaining myself to anyone. And I certainly will not justify my parenting decisions. Not to my family and friends and definately not to strangers.
I concentrate on my family and feel confident in the decisions I make regarding them.
Not to say that I cannot understand how frustrating it is to see the way some other people parent. I'm with you there. I too have a hard time being friends with people whose parenting styles I do not agree with.
That is why I am very careful who I let in my little world. I can be polite and chit chat with people like that but I will never let them get close enough to upset me.

post #15 of 54
Hi - I'm new. I got slammed on another parenting board because I suggested to another mom that she should do some soul searching in regards to her growing resentment of nursing, to see if she really wanted to wean just now...everyone else suggested cow's milk in a sippy cup. Then another mom suggested I was resentful of the first woman's lifestyle, which includes much consumerism, slamming her hubby on-line, lots of meat, disposable diapers, hair color, etc. Sigh. And it looked like even though some people on that board say they practice ap and nursing and such...they don't hesitate to wean just so they can be pregnant again. You see how it is. So I swore off that board and deleted the link...to argue with these sort of people is useless. So what to do.

Then my wonderful neighbor knocked on my door and came for a visit. My prayers for a friend were answered as soon as I took that first step for myself. It was only a matter of hours, not even! So to find a friend - pray? I know that sounds strange, but that is my experience...and not the first time either.

My neighbor gave me the link to this board. She stayed for tea! That's been my big complaint for years since moving here - nobody has time for tea : ) No more complaining - there is at least one person.

So here I am. I won't go back to that other place...but I won't be on here too much. I am limiting my on-line time these days.

I was pleased to notice though that this other board was crashed all day. Perhaps my bad psychic vibes were regurgitated through the cable modem? Too coincidental - ah Serendepity!

post #16 of 54
This thread is a huge help for me. We have family coming to visit us soon. One branch is a group of high achievers who don't believe in "spoiling" children. The other branch of the family sees parenting more like I do but is strong-willed and very opinionated, and critical when we disagree. Ugh.

I already see myself hoping that my dd appears to be advanced, brilliant, cooperative, et cetera, as opposed to being herself, which is the most precious thing I could hope for, so that I won't have to deal with the question of whether or not to justify my decisions.

On the question of judging each other, I had an enlightening experience during my labor. We had planned a home birth, and after 24 hours of irregular and regular contractions, I KNEW beyond all doubt that I needed medical care at a hospital. It was a gut feeling. I tried to explain this to my midwife between contractions and couldn't get through to her. She thought I was wimping out. (She told me later that "all women say they can't do it") DH followed her lead. It took another 12 hours for dd to become distressed, and for the decision to be made to take me to the hospital. Six hours later I had my blessed c-section. (They have their place!) It turned out that I had a severe uterine infection which prevented my labor from progressing.

I realized after that event that all of us can fall prey to rigid ideas that shut out the reality of what is actually happening right now. And I see myself falling into the same trap with my friends and moms I meet when I'm out and about.

I am not a thick skinned person, but I'm slowly learning that I can tolerate questioning and sideways glances by non-APers just fine when I feel very, very confident about my choices. Unfortunately, that isn't very often - I'm new at this! I think it's just always going to be hard for people like me to go against the mainstream opinion. Not hard enough to stop doing it, but just hard.
post #17 of 54


I have had the same issue, only in reverse. All the people I meet seem to be more on the AP side of the fence than me.

In Fact that is why I am here. There aren't any sites for my views at all. I don't see why we can't all get along though. We all love our children.

I have issues, because my choices are opposite of my friends.

I bottle feed, none of them do.

We put the baby in his own room, none of them do.

And most of the parenting type websites are also not what I am doing exactly.

Just focus on "you are doing what is right for YOU".

It isn't anyone else's place to judge you for any choice you make.

As long as you and your family are happy, that is what matters, not anything else.
post #18 of 54

In all gentleness, I am wondering why you chose the Mothering boards as the place to share your views, especially since they are not really in concurrence with the AP philosophy as most members here understand and/or practice it. Can you share your reasoning with us?
post #19 of 54
Thanks to Blessedx4 for mentioning the aspect of being non-judgmental. Sleepies, please know that I, too, am posting in that spirit and welcome you to share with us.
post #20 of 54

why i am here

well, if you dont want me here. i will leave. so let me know.

i come here for different views on many things.

i agree with AP views of discipline.....how to deal with more than one child a.k.a. sibling rivalry....

there are MANY more important ideas than feedings and diapers.

i like to hear people's input on dealing with children in positive ways.

methods of feeding and diapering are really not that important. i am here to learn how to deal with more important issues.

also, there are no bottle feeding sites out there. i have looked.
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