You won’t want to miss this dad’s perspective on the Mommy Wars!
By Will Odom, Contributing Writer (and Erin’s hubby!)
I know that some would say I have no business even writing about the Mommy Wars–that because I’m a dad (or a guy in general) my gender somehow disqualifies me to discuss this subject.
I, however, respectfully disagree.
I actually feel that being married to a mommy blogger gives me a unique perspective, as I have seen these topics unfold across social media and our own online community.
I could make this post really short and to the point.
Basically, the mommy wars are senseless and shortsighted.
The comparing, judgement, meanness, offensiveness, etc. are all ridiculous and unwarranted. It needs to STOP.
But that’s no fun.
Seriously, though, I just have to say, “Ladies, enough is enough!”
All of this negativity, getting easily offended, comparing yourselves, and judging each other has to be exhausting. I honestly don’t know how you do it.
Yes, I know it’s not everyone. Really, it’s not even the majority, but the ones who do participate sure are loud.
This blog is meant to encourage, educate, and empower, but I often feel as though people project their negativity into a post where there is none.
As a husband, I am well aware that women and men are not wired the same…thank goodness. We process things and handle situations from varying viewpoints. There are exceptions, but typically, men and women function differently.
For the most part, men often try to fix the problem when presented with a situation. However, as a Believer and Follower of Christ, I am commanded to understand and encourage my wife (1 Peter 3:7), not try to fix her.
(If anyone needs fixing, it’s definitely me!)
As such, I do not want to fix the mommy wars with this post; I don’t think that’s even remotely possible.
I merely want to offer some observations based on what I have witnessed from my interactions with the blogosphere and the work with my bride on this site.
Many would say that I shouldn’t waste my breath. That people are going to be react regardless of what anyone says. That the people who need this either won’t read it or won’t change anything.
Well, if one person reconsiders their actions, then it is worth it to me.
Maybe this will give some food for thought and challenge some people to think before they type.
1) A Better Mommy (or Daddy)
There are many things that determine what kind of a parent you are…
- quality time spent with your children
- how you interact with your children
- the words you use with your children
- strong, selfless relationships
- disciplining and shaping your child’s character
- showing unconditional love, grace and support
- investing in your child’s spiritual development
- providing a trusting, respectful home
- cultivating an attitude of gratitude
- nurturing their interests and confidence
And there are equally as many things that have nothing to do with how good a parent you are…
- clean house or messy house
- SAHM or WAHM or WAHM
- breastfeeding or bottle feeding
- childcare or no childcare
- organic food or non-organic
- homeschool or traditional school
- cloth diapers or disposable diapers
- extracurriculars or no extras
- attachment parenting or babywise
- vaginal birth or c-section
- medicated birth or non-medicated
- full vaccine or modified or none
- helicopter parent or free-range parent
Regardless of the choices that we make (some by our own plans…others by unforeseen circumstances), we should be supporting each other and encouraging each other.
So many things that people get upset over or offended by are really inconsequiential in the grand scheme of things.
There is really no need to compare yourself with someone else or for someone else to compare themselves to you. I know this is easier said than done sometimes, but we are all different and make different choices.
Comparing ourselves to others really does nothing for us and keeps us trapped.
Is their house cleaner? So what. Do they feed their kids corn? Who cares.
As long as the child is not in danger, many of these things are personal choices. Yes, I choose to do things my way, and I may disagree with how someone else does things, but that does not make them bad parents.
What really matters is that our kids are loved, safe, cared for, and supported.
2) Mommy Guilt
One of the things that I often read the most is that something has “made” someone feel guilty.
The only way someone can make me feel something is if I give them the power to do so.
You should not feel guilty about the choices that you make if you are sure that you made the best choice for your family and situation.
Just because someone chooses a different manner of doing things does not mean that they are secretly judging you for the choices that you make.
And just because something worked for my family (and we share our experience) does not mean it will work for you or that we are judging you because of it.
However, I will also say that if someone does feel guilty about something, perhaps they should examine their heart and motives and determine the “why” behind the feeling.
Maybe that person does need to reevaluate and reflect on their actions or choices…or maybe they just need to throw that feeling out the window with assurance that they made the right choice.
There are times when I have found myself reflecting on a particular issue, was convicted, and realized that I needed to change something. Other times, I have been totally comfortable with the decisions that I made and just move on.
3) Easily Offended
I think we live in a society that is easily offended at the slightest thing.
After blogging for 4 years, I honestly think that we could post a picture of unicorns and rainbows, and someone would somehow take offense to the picture…perhaps because unicorns aren’t real or the rainbow colors were in the wrong order.
I know you can’t please everyone, but come on, why are we so quickly offended?
You cannot say or do anything without offending someone. I’m sure the fact that I’m breathing offends someone…maybe I’m taking oxygen that could be used for more productive purposes.
Seriously, I just don’t get it. Why are we so sensitive?
Much like feeling guilty, feeling offended is a choice.
Are there things that offend me? Yes. Do I go nuclear on someone because of it? No.
There are definitely things worth fighting for, and I can have strong convictions about those things.
However, I don’t have to jump down someone’s throat if they say or do something that challenges my convictions. I can approach them in love and grace.
I have a choice to let it go (and yes, the Frozen song just went through my head…argh!) or let it fester and taint my thoughts, mood, actions, etc.
Quite honestly, all the negativity, rudeness and mean-spiritedness (if that’s a word) is exhausting and really wears people down.
If a person doesn’t find something applicable to their situation or life experiences, then just skip over it. It’s not necessary to comment on everything. There are many things that I read that I just scroll past.
Sometimes a person may not struggle with a particular issue, but others may need encouragement in that area. I may not have the same struggles that some of my friends have, but I don’t chastise them for their struggle. We help each other.
For someone to comment statements like “This article is stupid because you shouldn’t feel that way” invalidates the feelings of the other individual.
Perhaps they shouldn’t feel that way, but they do, and they need some uplifting support to help them move past those feelings and on to a better place emotionally or mentally.
Furthermore, tone cannot be interpreted through written correspondence and tends to be one of the main issues for miscommunication and misunderstanding when it comes to email, text, and social media.
Can we just assume the best intentions in people and just read something through a positive lens?
5) False Courage
I have found that social media gives us a false sense of courage and security. Because I’m not looking someone in the eye, I can say or do whatever I want.
That is not courage; it’s cowardice.
You do realize that there are real people with real feelings sitting on the other side of the screen reading all the harsh words, right? Moms just like you who on the same journey and facing some of the same challenges.
In addition, if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, then why would you type it in a social media setting. We control our tongues (well…sometimes), so why can’t be control our typing fingers?
Just like I have to bite my tongue, I need to keep my fingers in my pockets.
Or at the very least, I can type out my thoughts and come back in 30 minutes before I send it to see if I have calmed down and the situation still warrants the response I gave.
Daniel Tiger says, “When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to 4.” (or 400 if need be)
I sincerely hope that people do not treat others in real life like they do on social media. Some people tell me that they do, and I can’t possibly imagine being friends with that person in real life….or them having many friends.
I would not allow someone to sit in my living room and speak to me that way, so why should I allow it to be done over social media?
Their response is usually, “Well, I just tell it like it is.” Sometimes we do need to speak truth to others, but it should always be seasoned with love…even when we have hard things to say.
Jesus said many hard things to people, but he did so with love and in an effort to see them turn from their ways.
Other times we just need to pray for that person and move on.
6) Opening Up
I know that many will say, “Well, when you put your opinion out there, you open yourself up and should expect people to give their opinion.”
The issue is not people giving their opinion; it’s HOW that opinion is given.
Now, I’m not talking about good, honest discussion that leads us to think or challenges our perceptions. I need a good reality check and different perspective from time to time.
I have many discussions with people all the time, and I don’t agree with all of them. But, we are aren’t yelling at each other or calling each other names.
We can actually have a constructive conversation. We can open up to share our opinions without critizing or belittling.
Grace For Each Other
All I’m saying is that, ladies, you are all in this together. Why must this continue?
We have Proverbs 16:24 as a wall decal in our home as a constant reminder of the power of our words. It says:
This would be a good reminder for all of us as we interact with people on a daily basis, whether face to face or online. Our words have the power to give life and encouragement or bring death and discouragement.
Regardless of your faith, here are some other good words to live by:
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear…
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
If you want a female perspective on the Mommy Wars, Erin’s good friend Katie wrote an excellent post on why she doesn’t believe in the “Mommy Wars.” Check it out here.
What words of encouragement would you offer to put an end to the “Mommy Wars”?
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