What Not To Say When A Mom Parents Differently

To be completely honest, I thought the "mommy wars" thing, was a joke. OK, maybe I thought it was real, but it was certainly dramatized and overplayed, right? Wrong. I had no idea what I was getting into until I found myself being verbally attacked by a "friend" for having an epidural. An epidural, you guys. Medicine. To help me birth a baby. I really couldn't understand. So, in no time at all, I realized there are more than a few things moms need to stop saying about moms with different parenting styles. And by "stop saying," I mean, "Seriously never, ever say these things again because come on, can't we all just get along?"

I had no idea how upset people — from family members to friends to internet strangers — would be about the parenting choices I made. Then again, and now that I've been a mom for all of two years, it kind of makes sense. This parenting thing is scary. I mean, a lot is on the line and there is a ridiculous amount of responsibility at play. We all just want to be validated in our choices, and told what we're doing is the "right" thing to do. Sadly, sometimes the need to feel like we're good parents come out in a nasty way; a way that attacks others; a way that makes other moms feel like they're failing when, really, they've just found a different way to go about raising another human being.

So instead of attacking one another for making different choices, we should be encouraging one another. Instead of saying the following things, us moms need to remember that our need for personal validation shouldn't manifest itself into judgment or attacks on other people. We're all doing our best, my friends.

They're Uneducated

Just because someone doesn't make the same decision you have made, doesn't mean they're uninformed or uneducated.

This, honestly, was the most hurtful thing I heard postpartum. A friend who believes in non-medicated births, told me I chose to have an epidural because I "didn't know any better." She explained I probably wasn't told I was given Pitocin (I wasn't) and that I was "lucky" everything went smoothly. (While I am lucky in that I gave birth to a healthy baby boy, I also gave birth to a baby that wasn't alive so, you know, "lucky" is a very strange word to use in that context.)

She automatically assumed I didn't know what I was doing, instead of just trusting that I did (as did my team of doctors and nurses because, again, my birth wasn't "normal"). Don't assume, dear reader. You have no idea what another woman's labor and delivery was like, and why she decided what she decided, unless she specifically explains it to you.

They're Being Manipulated

It's pretty condescending to assume someone is being manipulated simply because they're not choosing to parent the way you are. Instead, have faith that people know what's best for their children. I mean, after all: it is their children we're talking about.

They'll Regret Their Decisions

I had a "friend" tell me I would regret getting an epidural. Well, after 10 hours of drug-free back labor, I can tell you I don't regret my decision to ask for the drugs one bit. Like, at all. That epidural gave me time to rest, collect my strength, and successfully push my son into the world.

No one has the capability of knowing how someone may or may not feel in the future. So, even if you personally regret a decision you made (the same decisions someone else is currently making) that doesn't mean your experience is universal. We are all different. We all know what is uniquely best for us.

They're Hurting Their Children

Oh, the humanity! Right? False.

If I had a dollar for every time some random internet stranger (or a well-meaning family member or friend) told me I was putting my son in danger by choosing to bed-share with him, his college tuition would be set. However, it was bed-sharing that actually helped my son. After he was born, he had problems regulating his body temperature. A night of skin-to-skin contact allowed my body to help stabilize his, and we have been bed-sharing ever since.

I would venture to guess every single mother has a story like that: a reason for the "controversial" decisions she is making. So, you know, just trust moms. They know their sh*t.

They'll Change Their Mind

Maybe. Maybe not. Unless you have a crystal ball (and OMG if you do can I borrow?) you have no way of knowing that.

Honestly, adapting to any and all unforeseen circumstances, and changing your plans in order to accommodate your always-evolving baby, is par for the parenting course. We all go in with a certain set of expectations, only to change them.

They're Bad Parents

Different is not bad. Repeat forever.

They're Failling

"Failure," honestly, is up for interpretation. I know I feel like I'm failing when I don't spend that much time with my son, but he is happy and healthy and thriving. I know I feel like I'm failing if I can't read five books with him, and only get to three, but, honestly, that's not failure.

You might look at another mom and assuming she's "failing" because she's not doing things your way, but your way might actually result in actual failure for her. Her child is different than your child. Her family is different than your family. Success isn't an easy thing to measure, and neither is failure, so we (collectively) probably shouldn't even try.

They Need To Do More Research

Just assume every mother has done pretty much the same thing you did when you found out you were pregnant: Google her ass off. I mean, we're all trying to figure out this mom thing, so we're reading and researching and asking all the questions.

However, we don't always come to the same conclusions. Our answers may vary, but trust that we're all doing the same work.

They're Too Different To Understand You

While motherhood can look differently, it has some of the very same underlying experiences. Sure, we aren't really "all in this together" because we're doing things differently and come from different backgrounds and have different experiences, but there are things we can all come together and universally agree on. One being, of course, that we love our children.

We're all just doing our best, trying to do right by these adorable humans we have created and grown and birthed and cared for. That makes us pretty similar, my friends. Even when we parent differently.