"End mommy wars": What do you think? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 02-26-2014, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This popped up on my facebook a while ago:

 

http://ctworkingmoms.com/2013/06/11/end-the-mommy-wars-special-photo-edition/

 

What do you think about it? It made me think quite a bit. I have mixed feelings about it .

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#2 of 26 Old 02-26-2014, 01:25 PM
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On the whole, I think it is a very positive thing.  I think we need to be more accepting of the choices of others.  However, there are certain pictures of the photo shoot, that get my inner tiger growling.  I recognize that these are the issues that I was very passionate about when they were relevant to me.  But, honestly, I really do think that if women support each other and their choices--as long as we aren't talking about abuse, then society will become more supportive as well. 

 

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#3 of 26 Old 02-27-2014, 07:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree that supporting each other is a good thing. Trying to understand the other point of view etc... I just felt like it was normalizing things that, well, I don't feel should be "normal" (as in equal to another choice). What bothered me was I felt like the message was "Do whatever you want with your kid, they'll be fine.". Which has some merit, but only to a certain point. Does that make sense?

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#4 of 26 Old 02-27-2014, 07:40 AM
 
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Honestly I'm all for the photos and none of them bothered me. Now... I am not laid back about everything. There just wasn't anything specific in those pictures that aggravated me. there are certain things that bother me. For example if I saw I am a single mom or dad and I introduce man after man/ woman after woman to my child I would be fully judging them. But this is only because I see what it does to my own.

 

Judging in my opinion is natural BUT being openly mean about it or even making a well meaning comment about it to that person is where I would draw the line.


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#5 of 26 Old 02-27-2014, 06:46 PM
 
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The thing that annoys me about it is there's no actual reasoning displayed. It's not 'don't judge other mothers for going back to work/staying at home because studies have shown X effect on children', or 'don't judge other mothers for choosing C-sections, because their reasons might be Y'. It's just 'don't judge us... because'. Because judgment is done by bad, nasty people. Because these two women are both happy, smiling and of similar attractiveness, so their parental choices must be benign and equally valid. Because these other two women are smiling at each other, which must mean they're friends, so if you disagree with one of them you're anti-friends and anti-happy, smiling women and probably anti-puppies and rainbows as well.

 

And of course, the choice of issues isn't accidental. The implication is that all these choices are valid. You don't see two beaming women holding up placards saying 'I stayed with my daughter's abuser' and 'I left him', or 'I kept my girl's genitals intact' and 'I performed Type 2 FGM on her'. 

 

I recognise that vocal sectors of society are always going to use visual and textual rhetoric to shame people into toeing the line of their preferred worldview. That's not inherently bad - calling male circumcision MGM, for instance. But it has to be backed up with reasoning. Otherwise it's 'gay rights because Neil Patrick Harris' family is cute.' 'Feminism because the girl wearing 'This is what a feminist looks like' T-shirt is approachable and pretty.' 'This school because the kids on our billboard are smiling.' 'No nuclear power because here's a photo of a green valley.' 'Breastfeed because look, Salma Hayek.' It reduces sometimes very complex issues down to which side has the better public image, the better catch-phrase, the better meme. It shuts down rational discussion with a blaring "If you disagree with us you're racist/uncool/a bigot/anti-environment/anti-family/anti-freedom/anti-choice/anti-God/anti-America/anti-laughter-and-light-and-all-things-good."

 

As it happens, I don't believe we should make blanket judgments on women who, say, formula-feed. But I hold that position based on a) knowing that medical evidence is vastly on the side of breastmilk as a far better choice for babies, b) recognising the systemic and personal difficulties women have in initiating and sustaining breastfeeding, and c) realising it's therefore ridiculous to place all formula-feeding women in a category of 'women who don't care enough about their babies to do the research, want to preserve their youthful breasts and/or get plastered every night.'

 

Actually, I doubt very much that most women do place FF mothers in that category; I think the 'mommy wars' are far more prevalent in the media than in real life. Nevertheless. I also know for a fact that there ARE women who formula-feed because they don't give a damn about their babies' health. Of course there are. And there's actually no reason the photo gives for me to think one way or the other about the woman holding the 'I chose to fomula-feed' sign. The implication is she had very good reasons for doing so. Maybe she did. If the point was simply 'You don't know her reasons, so don't judge her', I'd be all for it. But the photos don't say or even hint that. They just say 'Don't judge me.' Because...?

 

It reminds me of hilarious internet discussions where people are discussing tattoos. A few people will make the usual noises about how tattoos are disgusting and trashy. Then someone will simply say 'I have a tattoo'. As if that changes anything. It makes me want to scream at the screen "They don't know you!" There are plenty of good pro-tattoo arguments; use them, instead of just trying to shame strangers by saying "Well, *I* have one and you wouldn't possibly think these dreadful things about me, despite the fact you have absolutely no other knowledge about me which might incline you to think I have worthwhile things to say about the value of tattoos, which I'm not going to say anyway." 

 

Plus, the whole photo thing smacks to me of 'vaginal solidarity' - a sort of chummy we-gals-got-to-stick-together, join-hands-and-sing-kumbayah mentality, which I happen to despise. Women aren't automatically above judgment, infinitely wise, Doing the Best They Can and so on just because they're women. I'm all for women empathising with each other and helping each other out, given that we often share a more similar perspective on life than men do; but not always, and to imply that our many cultural, religious and social differences (many of which might be the causes of relatively minor parenting differences mentioned in the photos) can be smoothed away just by smiling at each other and having a group hug is... eugh.

 

All that said, I'm sure the campaign means well and I'm probably way overthinking it. :p But it's not something I'm going to repost on Facebook in the hopes of sparking an epiphany in the mind of any rational human. "Oh, we're supposed to be NICE to each other! Well, mustn't disobey the sign. I'm gonna go run out and hug someone in the formula aisle."

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#6 of 26 Old 02-27-2014, 09:12 PM
 
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Brilliantly said, Smokering.

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#7 of 26 Old 02-28-2014, 06:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Indeed, well said! 

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#8 of 26 Old 02-28-2014, 10:27 AM
 
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Yeah awesome post Smokering. I've said the same thing, much less eloquently, in real life many times.
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#9 of 26 Old 02-28-2014, 11:46 AM
 
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Interesting... I think part of it is they are assuming that we've all heard all of the back-and-forth on these subjects already and don't need it reiterated. Sure, the authors of this piece could have done yet another discussion of why some people choose a C-section or choose to formula-feed, but we've all heard it before, haven't we? Can't we fill in seventeen possible reasons that the moms could have made any of these choices? And I think part of it is inviting us to put ourselves in the situation of one of the moms in the picture, where it's one of our friends who's made a different choice than us. I think the Internet exacerbates the mommy wars. People we don't know well are faceless and it's easy to judge them, whereas with your friends, when you know their story, it's much easier to give them the benefit of the doubt. So to me this functions almost as a reminder to give other people the benefit of the doubt. Also, even if you do disagree with a particular decision your friend made, you're more likely to be able to look beyond that and maintain the friendship anyway, versus being inclined to dismiss a random stranger online who made a decision you disagree with. 

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#10 of 26 Old 02-28-2014, 11:50 AM
 
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Thoughtful response Erigeron.
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#11 of 26 Old 02-28-2014, 12:03 PM
 
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This is one of my favorite articles on the topic:

 

http://www.phdinparenting.com/blog/2009/9/26/dont-judge-me.html

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#12 of 26 Old 02-28-2014, 12:31 PM
 
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What I find difficult about the pictures is that it portrays both as equal, valid choices ... and they're just not!
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#13 of 26 Old 02-28-2014, 01:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View Post

Brilliantly said, Smokering.

I agree.

What I found ?odd, ?annoying, I'm not sure, about the article was

- she started by saying it is media who created/fueled the mummy wars and she wants no part of it. But she has made herself part of it by writing the article in the first place. If she really sates no part of it then surely she'd be better off just writing articles which didn't add more to the debate. Although, as I write this, I'm thinking well is that just ignoring a problem which really does exist for some people so, I dunno.

- not all the photos showed actual choices. It's not a choice to be a gay or straight mum, to have infertility or not or to have PND or not. So I thought that was strange.
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#14 of 26 Old 02-28-2014, 07:32 PM
 
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Okay. I'll just flip a coin for breast or formula. We're all smiling.
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#15 of 26 Old 03-01-2014, 09:19 AM
 
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This is one of my favorite articles on the topic:

 

http://www.phdinparenting.com/blog/2009/9/26/dont-judge-me.html

 

I just wanted to include one quote from this blog post:

Quote:
 
When it comes to something like infant feeding (breast or formula), discipline (spanking or punishment versus gentle discipline), sleep (cry it out versus parent to sleep), there are people who say "Do whatever is best for your family. No one way is better than the other". But there are also people who believe, based on considered choice or societal influence, that one way is better than the other. There are some parenting issues where I think each family should do what is best for them. There are other parenting issues where I feel there is a better way to do things and I will advocate for the better way. It doesn't mean I'm judging you if you can't live up to my ideal. In fact, I may not always live up to my ideal (I don't think it is a good idea to scream at children, but I sometimes scream at mine). But I do want to change your mind if you think differently.
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#16 of 26 Old 03-01-2014, 10:53 AM
 
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I'm going to go out on a limb here and be honest. I feel like as a parent, it is your job to raise your kids to be healthy physically and emotionally. I don't feel like all choices are equal, but I do understand where there are exceptions as to why some people can't choose the healthiest options.

I personally think it is really sad to never try breastfeeding. But there are cases where people can't at all or have to pump or supplement or what have you. I know a two people personally who have to work and don't respond to a pump, so they have no choice but to supplement. Their babies are still loved and healthy. I don't judge people who try to breastfeed and fail because they have zero information and support in a society that normalizes formula.

I also think CIO is damaging and mean. The fact that the lady in the picture is mock-crying is messed up. I do, however think that there are times in some women's lives where they are just so overwhelmed and baby is screaming and you've done all you can do and you need to step out for a minute so you don't rip all you hair out. And some babies can't stand being in the carseat so they scream.

It's healthy for families to be families. Turn off the Tv, sit down, and eat a healthy meal together. It's not healthy to let your kids eat whatever they want or watch however much TV they want. Period.

So, yes I do believe that there are better ways of doing things. Nobody is going to be capable of doing THE BEST 100% of the time. These pictures are trying to encourage people not to judge, which is a great idea, but I feel like it's taking it a step further and trying to make certain parenting choices equal. I wish everyone would do their personal best. When someone deliberately chooses an option that they know is bad for their child just for the sake of selfishness, that is wrong.

I personally try to make the healthiest decisions possible for the sake of my children's emotional and physical well-being. I see people parenting in ways that I never would. I know I parent in ways other people never would. No one does it perfectly. I understand that it's not healthy to judge, and when I find myself judging I remind myself it's not my place. Although sometimes I do feel bad for some of the things I see and the children who suffer because of their parents choices.

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#17 of 26 Old 03-01-2014, 01:49 PM
 
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If you encounter a stranger who is, say, giving formula, you don't know what the story is as to why she's not making the 'better' choice, so why not give the benefit of the doubt? 

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#18 of 26 Old 03-01-2014, 02:45 PM
 
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It's not my business to judge or give the benefit of the doubt. Breastmilk is a better choice, period. I'm not making any positive or negative assumptions about total strangers. It's not really my business to know WHY someone is doing anything with their own child as long as the baby is healthy and happy. Formula is still a good choice, it's just not the best. I feel like as a parent, it's only right to do best by your child.

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#19 of 26 Old 03-01-2014, 04:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by erigeron View Post
 

If you encounter a stranger who is, say, giving formula, you don't know what the story is as to why she's not making the 'better' choice, so why not give the benefit of the doubt? 

 

I know the question wasn't addressed to me but here are my thoughts:

 

I would give the benefit of the doubt, yes. But seeing someone do something is a different situation than the link I posted. To me the difference is personal situation versus public/political statements. I guess my point is: If a person choose to do x, y or z as a parenting choice it is 100% their business (within certain limits) and it would be inappropriate for me to judge them on that choice. But I do find that these photos seemed to send a social message of "Do whatever with your kids, they'll be fine, the consequences are not that bad." And I find that problematic.

 

I don't think guilting people is productive, but sometimes it seems like a lot of parenting choices forget that parent-child is a relationship. There are 2 people with equal value. You need to consider the other person (baby or child) and how they are affected by your choices. Yes you count, but so does your kid. I guess that sounds judgy? I'm trying to interpret what these photos mean as a social commentary, not because I want to pressure specific people or tell specific parents they are making the "wrong" choice. I just wonder where we draw the line. What if one said "I choose to overmedicate my kids" "I don't."? "I spank" vs "I don't use physical punishment"? When do we say "That's not an ok choice"?

 

 I felt that comparing CIO or not, unlimited TV or not and, say, being gay or having PPD didn't make much sense. And I was also wierded out by the crying faces for the CIO photos. I don't think mocking or ridiculing a crying child or baby is ok...

 

I appreciate everyone's opinion here! That's why I like MDC. There are some thought provoking conversations here:thumb Thanks!

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#20 of 26 Old 03-01-2014, 06:56 PM
 
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Breastmilk is a better choice, period. 
 

Not necessarily. If mom can't produce enough milk and baby would go hungry? If mom is having such difficulty breastfeeding that it is aggravating PPD to an extent where she can't function? If baby is allergic to proteins in mom's milk? If baby was a preemie and needs to have formula *added* to breastmilk to provide enough calories? Or a number of other reasons? No, it's not necessarily the best choice for everybody. That's my entire point. By assuming that somebody else isn't doing their OWN best for their family because they aren't making the choice that's empirically "best" in a perfect world, you're assuming that person doesn't have good reasons for making the choice that they made. And that is what contributes to the mommy wars, and that's what this meme is trying to counter, by encouraging readers to put a human face on those who make different choices. 

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#21 of 26 Old 03-01-2014, 08:51 PM
 
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Did you read my original post? I mean that breastmilk is the best nutritionally, that is a fact. There are always exceptions, and whether or not the baby is happy is more important than what kind of food baby eats.

Quote:

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I personally think it is really sad to never try breastfeeding. But there are cases where people can't at all or have to pump or supplement or what have you. I know a two people personally who have to work and don't respond to a pump, so they have no choice but to supplement. Their babies are still loved and healthy. I don't judge people who try to breastfeed and fail because they have zero information and support in a society that normalizes formula.

 

I have many friends who supplement or have never tried breastfeeding at all. Do I hold that against them? No. I have a close friend that has never and will never breastfeed because she was molested and doesn't like anyone, her husband included, touching her breasts. That doesn't change the fact that breastmilk is still nutritionally superior to formula.

I struggled with breastfeeding my firstborn. I made it to 3 weeks of exclusive breastfeeding, then I started supplementing. She has a bad tongue and lip ties that I was not aware of at the time. I was living in a women's shelter surrounded by mothers who pressured me into supplementing. It was very rare that she wasn't nursing and these mothers thought they were doing me a favor by giving me formula. I sobbed when I fed it to her. It didn't help that the people who ran the shelter made it a rule when I came home from the hospital that I could only nurse her in private. That doesn't really work when you have scheduled times for wake-up, meals, chores, and meetings. When she was 2 months old I moved across the country. Since I started pumping (with a flange that was 2 sizes too small) and supplementing before my supply was established, my milk supply diminished until I couldn't pump hardly anything by 4 months. I had zero support, knowledge, etc. Everyone has a story, and I did the absolute best I could given my situation, but that doesn't change the fact that my daughter still got a nutritionally inferior start. I wish I could have known then what I know now. When she was 16 months old she just up and decided to start nursing again and does so quite often. When my son was born he had bad lip and tongue ties too and got them laser revised at a week old. It took my milk 5 days to come in with the combined issues of my body recovering from the C-section and his ties. He wasn't peeing as much as he should have been. I had an IBCLC tell me I had to supplement with formula or breastmilk. I did pump but it wasn't enough and in hindsight I realize I should have supplemented.

I don't assume anything negative when I see someone formula feeding, the same way I don't assume anything positive when I see someone breastfeeding.


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#22 of 26 Old 03-01-2014, 09:00 PM
 
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 And I was also wierded out by the crying faces for the CIO photos. I don't think mocking or ridiculing a crying child or baby is ok...

Seemed odd to me too, but then I thought, seeing her beaming happily while holding a sign saying she did CIO seemed really off to me too. So, yeah. :p

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#23 of 26 Old 03-05-2014, 07:53 PM
 
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Did you read my original post? I mean that breastmilk is the best nutritionally, that is a fact. There are always exceptions, and whether or not the baby is happy is more important than what kind of food baby eats.

 

Yeah, I did read your first post and that's why I found the second one confusing, so thanks for clarifying. 

 

I think it's best not to get too, too stuck on what the "optimal" or "best" choice is. Expecting perfection... that's exhausting. It opens the door for depression and other issues if taken to an extreme. I think that is part of what's fueling the mommy wars, tbh. There is so much expectation to do everything exactly right and work to our very fullest potential in these various ways, and so much judgment if we fall even a little bit short. I think that it's valuable to be able to look at your own efforts, or those of another, and say they are good ENOUGH. Breastmilk may be best nutritionally, but formula is good enough. A child who is fed formula will in all likelihood not have any problems from it. So if a mom decides to give formula instead of breastmilk for whatever reason, I don't have an issue with it because I think formula is a sufficiently good choice for people to make. I notice none of the posts on that site are anything like "I let my kids ride around without a car seat/I make sure I have the best car seat available", or anything else where one choice is not just not "best" but is actually dangerous. 

 

Sometimes I want to make up an AP "purity test", just for fun. 

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#24 of 26 Old 03-05-2014, 08:09 PM
 
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Also?  It's a bunch of white, upperclass women.  THere might have been one woman with brown skin tones, I couldn't really tell....

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#25 of 26 Old 03-13-2014, 09:20 PM
 
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I really liked the photos. It's not instinctual not to judge, but as higher thinking beings we are capable of checking ourselves before unessisarly placing our values and expectations on other people. If mommy wars are only media created, than no one pays attention to the exchanges on theses boards. Some I assume very well intentioned people are slaying the confidence of other mothers under the guise of offering advice. I'm walking away with the thought not to judge just because period. Some have stated that not all the options are equal. I argue that none can be understood without consideration for other factors we were not given access to. When a mother can breastfeed or not or stay at home or not without having to explain to others why the circumstance is "best" for her,then the wars would end. At best keep your judements to yourself. No harm is done unless you communicate your perception that what someone else does is wrong/ not as good because you mother differently.
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#26 of 26 Old 03-13-2014, 11:53 PM
 
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What I don't understand about all of this is what exactly are "mommy wars"? Are women out there actually bickering with each other about parenting choices? Do other women really walk up to a bottle feeding mom and say "You know breastfeeding is best. I am still breastfeeding my 4 year old"? and "Do you know disposable diapers are destroying our earth?".  Sometimes I think the whole concept of "mommy wars" is a publicity thing just stirring the pot to put out more articles and useless media. 

 

Honestly this isn't highschool.  If you are being bullied by another mom why would you keep that person in your social circle? I have friends who make all sorts of different parenting choices but when it comes down to it, if their choices are REALLY different from mine there is a good chance we don't have much in common anyway. 


XM,: mama to ds (5/08), dd (9/10) and ds (6/12) ! whale.gif :C.H.S & M.

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