Monday, November 5, 2007

Militant Mommies

So I have become a frequent visitor to several parenting boards. I am also trying to find local mommies I would enjoy getting to know and generally trying to transition from being a carefree and feckless lass into a (hopefully) hip and fun-loving mommy.

I do take the responsibility of raising a happy and healthy child quite seriously and put a lot of thought into my choices etc.. but I have noticed, since I began lurking about boards and reading about parenting stuff, that there are a lot of mommies out there who really turn me off.

I guess the thing is that I really believe that nearly all parents have a basic desire to raise their children well. I think it's pretty rare for someone to not love their child and want to do things that are in their best interests. We all, of course, have different ideas about what those best interests might be.

A lot of parents out there, though, take their ideals of parenting to a point I find to be offensive, even when I agree with them. There is no one right way to raise a child. We all, of course, adopt the philosophy that works best for us and I cannot understand why so many of us become so militantly pro-whatever that we end up essentially insinuating that anyone who does otherwise is a bad parent.

The two issues where I see this at its worst are breastfeeding and circumcision. I do breastfeed and if I had a son I would likely not circumsize but I cannot understand the venom that so many breastfeeding and non-circ mommies spew toward parents who choose otherwise.

Sure, I believe that breastfeeding is the best choice. I believe that it has been proven, beyond any doubt, to have numerous health and emotional benefits for both the parent and the child (not to mention economic). I hope to be able to breastfeed Lily pretty much exclusively until she's 6 months and then to continue with solids until at least a year. I cannot find that I have any right to look down on or berate anyone who feels differently though.

So what if the woman doesn't want to breastfeed for whatever reason she finds compelling. If she thinks it's yucky, if she thinks it's inconvenient, if her family doesn't like it... hell, if her dog tells her that breastfeeding is only for poor people... whatever her reasons might be; they are her reasons and she should not be put down or criticized for making a choice to feed her child formula (hmm... if her dog's talking to her that might bring up separate issues :)).

I can't tell you how sorry I feel for women who speak up on these boards to defend their choices, or the choices of others, only to be yelled down by dozens of fire breathing militant mommies who use their "evidence" to try and make these women feel like they are making a choice that is going to harm their child.

The fact is that breastmilk is the best. It is the standard food for babies and should be. It helps support healthy immune function and works the best in almost every case. The fact also is that most every woman knows this. Also, formula is a safe alternative to breastfeeding. Yes, it is substandard, it is not as good, it is second best to breastmilk... and millions of babies have thrived on it for many years. This is not to mention that most women who are formula feeding are past the window of lactation by the point they post on these boards anyway... so it's not like you could be getting them to nurse their child even if you weren't pissing them off.

It's the same with the circumcision issue. With really any issue about parenting. Parents who do cry it out are wrong, parents who don't let their kids learn to self-soothe are doing the wrong thing, babies must be put on a schedule or the parents are failing them... blah blah blah. None of these things will insure a negative outcome and none of them will ensure a positive one either.

Raising a happy and healthy child is not dependent upon what you choose to feed them or certain choices you make. I don't think anyone has the secret recipe that works for even "most" children. Just because you or I am happy with the philosophy we choose doesn't mean it is the "right" one or that it is even going to work for our kid in the end. Only time will show us if our parenting choices produce the results we were hoping for.


Rebecca said...

I cannot tell you how much I agree with you.In fact,I believe I've ranted along these lines myself many times LOL I'm a huge advocate of breastfeeding and adamant about not circumcision and I really think the militant mommies make the issues so confrontational that they are doing more of a disservice to the issues than they are doing good. Raising awareness and trying to educate is a far cry from pushing your own beliefs and ideals on others and telling them how wrong they are for doing differently.I am seen as being very extreme on both of those topics but even I know when to leave well enough alone and respect another person's decision. Parenting is just as personal a choice as religion and who am I to interfere with that?

Juliette said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels this way :) !!