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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know we talked about being judgmental toward other mothers who don't do as we do, but what do you do when people react defensively to you as a mother?

I am growing tired of walking on eggshells for fear that what I say and do naturally will offend someone. I am finding myself coming to MDC more and more because I identify with the mothers here more then any other mothers I've met, both in real life and online. I'm not as "crunchy" as some, and I don't want to be in some areas, but I still find that when I'm here the things I do as a mother are not considered, culturally, to be my "dirty little secrets".

So how I do live life without causing other mothers to react defensively or out of guilt? I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said "I'm not a bad mother if I don't... [insert parenting technique here]".

The most likely to create a response are being against the use of formula as a choice, being against CIO, being against the early introduction of solids, being against the use of gadgets to entertain my baby, being against letting her watch TV, and of course, advocating extending breastfeeding and co-sleeping. At the slightest mention of any of these things it seems that people are assuming I mean them to be a bad parent for not doing the same as me.

I am just SO tired of being weighed down by this. It's really starting to get to me. What's weird is that I couldn't give a crap about what other people do, probably because I am confident and comfortable with what I'm doing. When someone offers me unsolicited advice (like my husbands 80 year old aunt telling me to put my DD down because holding her was making her sore) I just smile and knod. I don't feel the need to explain myself. I'm not defensive. I don't have to justify or rationalize what I do to strangers.

So how do you handle people who are OBVIOUSLY guilty for how they're parenting their children? Ignore them? Point out that they must be guilty for some reason?

It just seems so many people are predisposed to doing many mainstream things, yet something inside them must know differently for them to react so defensively.

I also find that some people would follow their pediatrician off a cliff if they said it would be safe. I once talked to a mother who started her baby on pureed fruit at two months old, and upon hearing that I plan to skip the whole transitional baby mush food, she just HAD to explain to me about how her pediatrician said it was Ok. It just seemed to me that she knew deep down that it wasn't Ok, otherwise she wouldn't have cared what my thoughts were.

I'm just so frustrated right now, and I wish I could be more open to my family about some of the things I do as a mother. My daughter, who is 4 months old, was just given a Baby Einstein DVD box set, yet, I didn't have it in me to explain why I didn't want it, or why it won't get used. Apparently letting baby's watch DVD's is "normal", and I just don't feel like having to explain myself, because heaven forbid I make those who did let their children watch TV feel guilty or defensive.

Uhg.
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No advice..sorry. Just want to say I feel the same way. I lost a great friend b/c of it. I hope soon I will meet(IRL) another like minded Mama?
 

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Really good point. I don't even have kids yet and I get this when I chat about how DH and I plan to do things--- people will ask me about it, then jump in and go on for days about why they did things the way they did. I have just been ignoring them, but they're not really close friends, just older folks at work and in classes. I am apprehensive about some of my friends because I'm not sure how this issue will shake down once I have a baby; they don't have kids yet so I don't know their opinions, but they ARE opinionated! I just wanted to say I hear ya!
 

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You don't have to make apologies for raising your children the way you feel is right for them. Another mother's guilt is not your burden to bear.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Boobs
You don't have to make apologies for raising your children the way you feel is right for them. Another mother's guilt is not your burden to bear.
Well said, sometimes I forget that
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Boobs
You don't have to make apologies for raising your children the way you feel is right for them. Another mother's guilt is not your burden to bear.

:


I think anyone who makes choices that tend to go "against the grain" - all need to remind themselves of exactly this!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by North_Of_60
It just seems so many people are predisposed to doing many mainstream things, yet something inside them must know differently for them to react so defensively.
I'm not harshing on you in particular here (
), but are you sure their defensive reaction is based in their "secretly" knowing better in their heart? Is it possible their defensive reactions are occurring because they sense they're being judged? They'd probably stammer and backtrack and try to explain their parenting position to anybody who seems to be different than they are--they feel judged (maybe for being too liberal, maybe for being too conservative, maybe for being too ANYTHING), and they try to explain themselves. Haven't we all had the feeling, sometimes, that we need to explain or justify our parenting choices? I mean, motherhood can be hard, especially when you're new at it, and sometimes the feeling that you're being judged or looked down on brings out defensiveness. I wouldn't assume that they're "obviously guilty." Defensiveness doesn't mean guilty....none of us feel guilty about being AP, but I've surely seen a lot of people around here get defensive when confronted or judged by mainstreamers.
 

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I think with many people with whom you can be more frank, it pays to be frank. Like with my ILs, we out-and-out said that we don't do Barbie, we don't do Disney, we don't do kids' TV or characters or plastic. Books. Books are good. Gift cards to Ikea: also good.

Most of the time, they've really tried to listen, especially my MIL (my FIL is another story
: ).

With friends, if stuff has come up in the course of the conversation, I'll just say something like, "I know not everyone would agree with me" (boy is THAT the case!),
"but we're really not that into TV, at least for our family." That tends to help it not come off as a judgment against their family's choices (although, to be honest, I think their choices really stink...but they probably think the same of mine).

With other people (not-so-good friends), we smile and say "Thank you for the Baby Einstein," and sell it on Ebay or re-gift it to someone who would've gotten it anyhow.

For less "public" things like co-sleeping, I don't even bring it up. Not their bizwax, really, and it never comes up in conversation anyway. If it did, I'd just say, "Yeah, we bought Lou a futon for herself, but she mostly just decides to sleep with me. Since she doesn't snore like my DH, I don't really mind."


Quote:

Originally Posted by North_Of_60
I know we talked about being judgmental toward other mothers who don't do as we do, but what do you do when people react defensively to you as a mother?

I am growing tired of walking on eggshells for fear that what I say and do naturally will offend someone. I am finding myself coming to MDC more and more because I identify with the mothers here more then any other mothers I've met, both in real life and online. I'm not as "crunchy" as some, and I don't want to be in some areas, but I still find that when I'm here the things I do as a mother are not considered, culturally, to be my "dirty little secrets".

So how I do live life without causing other mothers to react defensively or out of guilt? I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said "I'm not a bad mother if I don't... [insert parenting technique here]".

The most likely to create a response are being against the use of formula as a choice, being against CIO, being against the early introduction of solids, being against the use of gadgets to entertain my baby, being against letting her watch TV, and of course, advocating extending breastfeeding and co-sleeping. At the slightest mention of any of these things it seems that people are assuming I mean them to be a bad parent for not doing the same as me.

I am just SO tired of being weighed down by this. It's really starting to get to me. What's weird is that I couldn't give a crap about what other people do, probably because I am confident and comfortable with what I'm doing. When someone offers me unsolicited advice (like my husbands 80 year old aunt telling me to put my DD down because holding her was making her sore) I just smile and knod. I don't feel the need to explain myself. I'm not defensive. I don't have to justify or rationalize what I do to strangers.

So how do you handle people who are OBVIOUSLY guilty for how they're parenting their children? Ignore them? Point out that they must be guilty for some reason?

It just seems so many people are predisposed to doing many mainstream things, yet something inside them must know differently for them to react so defensively.

I also find that some people would follow their pediatrician off a cliff if they said it would be safe. I once talked to a mother who started her baby on pureed fruit at two months old, and upon hearing that I plan to skip the whole transitional baby mush food, she just HAD to explain to me about how her pediatrician said it was Ok. It just seemed to me that she knew deep down that it wasn't Ok, otherwise she wouldn't have cared what my thoughts were.

I'm just so frustrated right now, and I wish I could be more open to my family about some of the things I do as a mother. My daughter, who is 4 months old, was just given a Baby Einstein DVD box set, yet, I didn't have it in me to explain why I didn't want it, or why it won't get used. Apparently letting baby's watch DVD's is "normal", and I just don't feel like having to explain myself, because heaven forbid I make those who did let their children watch TV feel guilty or defensive.

Uhg.
:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by RedOakMomma
I'm not harshing on you in particular here (
), but are you sure their defensive reaction is based in their "secretly" knowing better in their heart? Is it possible their defensive reactions are occurring because they sense they're being judged?
If I were just willy nilly telling people that I do "this, this, and that, because of X, Y, Z", then maybe. But I'm talking about stuff in general, usually in passing. Sometimes it's just based on observation!

For example - solid foods. Just about everyone I know has asked me if I've started her on solids yet. Mostly I say no, haven't gotten around to it yet. But the ONE time I actually explained why ("nope, we plan on starting after 6 months because my husband has diabetes and waiting helps prevent all sorts of things, including the diabetes). You'd think I threatened this woman with CPS from the way she went on.

It just seems unfair that I have to keep my mouth shut for fear that our every day life will offend someone. Should I lie? Make something up? I already fib to my MIL about most things for this exact reason, but I'm growing tired of it. I want so desperately to be proud of what I do, and not feel the need to slightly alter my ideas for fear of it being a subject of contention.

The TV issue is our latest dilemma. My whole family seems to think that plunking her down in front of a TV will help her talk faster, in different languages, as she counts to a 100 while doing sign language. Like heaven forbid I actually cuddle with her, and, oh I don't know, READ.

So now everyone is telling me that their kids are just fine, they watch TV all the time, "they're not bad parents for allowing TV" (when did I say they were?), and so on. I can't simply say, no thank-you we don't watch TV, without it becoming a whole big thing. Oh, and when they ask why and I explain it, it gets blown out of proportion even more.

Just like the whole exercauser thing. We had one given to us. I don't use it. They come over and see it in the corner holding laundry and question why I don't use it. I explain "because I like to play with her, the leg holes dig into her legs, and she would just rather be with me, and I'd rather be holding her instead". From that one sentence I got a ten minute speech about they used it and their kid is just fine, blah blah blah. Sometimes it's as if they're trying to convince me, but mostly, it comes off as defensive.

But I agree, being a mother is hard enough with out constantly feeling like the whole world is looking at you.

Just a funny, quick story.. today I went grocery shopping and was putting the wrap on and the woman loading her car next to me said "that looks like a lot of work". I smiled and said yup, but it's sooo worth it. Judgment is everywhere, so I guess it's natural to feel somewhat defensive at times. Though most of the time I don't see the point if you're comfortable with your decisions.
 

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Most people think I'm a little crazy. My mom was here today and asked where Z slept cause there is no crib in his 'room' (nothing of his in there) as though it was unthinkable that he would still be in our room. Just as the girls were (and sometimes still are). She didn't say anything, but I know what she was thinking. She also dosen't really believe that breastfeeding is better, cause she used formula and we are fine. Its not really modest anyway.
I do get tired of feeling like I need to defend myself and our family decicisions with family and friends. I also get tired of the eggshells thing and when I try to talk about something I get the 'whatever' vibe. I have found that strangers seem to be more accepting of the slinging and cloth diapers, while my family and in laws cant believe I would do these things.
But I Do find my self judging my siblings for the choices they make and I know they are judging me. And we are so far apart in these decisions that we cant even discuss them without heat.
I feel sorry for my child self too. I now have a good idea of how we were raised as small children and it is not how I would like to think is right for kids. It is only by treating my children with respect and love and comfort that they need that I begin to feel better.
 

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I think that some people just can't imagine that they could be wrong. For example CIO. I'm not going to do it and I KNOW I'm not wrong. If anyone decides to press the issue with me, I can argue or not but I will probably never change my mind that CIO is totally wrong. For some people TV, cereal, Dora the Explorer toys, formula, is the right thing to do and they really just think they're right. I have a cousin who thinks that if girls don't have Barbies they will be "nerdy" or something. She thinks that kids need to "belong" and that having the "cool" toys is part of how that happens. Her girls are lovely (totally mainstream, but lovely), but that still doesn't convince ME that Barbies are okay.

But sometimes people are actually in agreement and don't even know it. My brother thinks that CIO is the way to go and he thinks I'm totally wrong. He's told me as much. Now, he has kids and I don't (yet) so he even has experience with it that I don't have.

But here's the crazy part:

THEY DON'T CIO! They just think they do. As soon as the baby starts to cry during a nap, my SIL SPRINTS down the hall to him -- SPRINTS! And she breastfeeds him right away to soothe him. Now, they will let the baby whimper a bit, or make little noises. I'm telling you -- the kid doesn't cry but they think they are letting him "cry". Now my dad gets wind of our discussion and starts in on me with, "Oh yeah, you're going to have the kid that doesn't cry." and other scarcastic comments. "They don't let their kid cry Dad!" Maybe it's in the way it's presented -- I actually have reasons behind my beliefs and decisions and I explain them. But the family still thinks I'm weird even though I plan on doing the same thing they do.

Maybe it's competition? If people see you're spending more time, attention, patience and energy with your parenting than they do, wouldn't they feel threatened? Survival of the fittest? If you spend 2 more hours per day on language and cognitive development (playing, talking, reading, gardening, etc.) with your child versus plopping them infront of the TV or computer I think they'd have an advantage over the other TV head kids that other parents might resent -- even unconsciously.
 

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It's very odd, isn't it? I used to be into animal rights and animal rescue (not anymore) and it used to annoy the heck out of me when people would always be telling me the awful things they did to animals but that it really wasn't that bad because (insert justification). This sort of reminds me of that.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by RedOakMomma
Haven't we all had the feeling, sometimes, that we need to explain or justify our parenting choices? I mean, motherhood can be hard, especially when you're new at it, and sometimes the feeling that you're being judged or looked down on brings out defensiveness. I wouldn't assume that they're "obviously guilty." Defensiveness doesn't mean guilty....none of us feel guilty about being AP, but I've surely seen a lot of people around here get defensive when confronted or judged by mainstreamers.

I was thinking about this the other day and I don't think I have ever felt defensive about the way I parent. I really do think that people are defensive because they are not totally comfortable with the choice they have made, I AM comfortable with the choices I have made so far.

I guess I don't have a lot of contact with mainstream parents but when I do I just do my thing and if people ask "why" I just tell them why and if they tell me I am wrong I just say I like my way but I NEVER feel the need to justify my parenting.

It's not like I haven't made mistakes but I try to learn from them and move on.
 

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I understand how you feel. I have several friends who had babies within weeks of my having my daughter and they seem to act shocked that I get up w/ my daughter during the night or surprised that I haven't yet started solids.

Just them asking you the question, "Haven't you started feeding your child solids yet" is judgemental on thier parts and while you may feel defensive, I think you should just say that for your familiy, it works for ya'll. Several of these new moms have babies that sleep for 10-12 hours strait and my daughter wakes up and wants mommy about 2-4 times a night. Usually for food, but sometimes, just to be rocked back to sleep. (We don't co-sleep, but I'm VERY responsive to her needs...that monitor is turned up WAY loud!
). We stayed on one of these mom's houses and thier daughter doesn't sleep strait the entire time... I was up with my daughter and I could HEAR thier daughter talking and playing in her crib. The poor child just learned early (they CIO) that crying doesn't get her anything so she just has to entertain herself. They of course, never even wake up to hear her talking/playing because they learned early on to tune out her crying for them. Poor baby. I wanted to go and scoop her up and give her some attention.

Anyway...I digressed. I just wanted to say that I completly understand what you are saying....
 
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