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”?
Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Thank you for supporting my site!
Thank you Julie!
I just love this post! Thank you! I think if we are all honest everyone can walk away from this post with encouragement and exhortation. Both are invaluable. 🙂
Thank you Katie. I hope that people can be encouraged and challenged.
Amen! I agree we need to watch our words when commenting on social media. It is okay to disagree with someone, but there’s no need to be mean, rude or cruel. We learn by listening to one another’s opinions and beliefs. If one really takes the time to think about what is being written, one may just learn something.
Thank you Leslie. Listening does seem to be a lost art nowadays.
Amazing post and great points! Can I just add one thing? Even when approaching someone in love about something that you feel must be corrected/commented on, do so privately. The person may not realize what they said or that what they are doing should/could be changed. In my opinion, it is arrogant to express your thoughts in front of everyone else on social media. It just makes it seem like you want everyone else to see that you are “right.”
That is an excellent point, Abby, and actually quite biblical.
Very well said. One thing I have always loved about this blog is how every topic is approached with grace. It has actually helped me to view the choices other people make (or have forced upon them through circumstances) in a more kindly light. I’ve always tried to not publicly belittle the choices people make when I disagree. In our family we were raised to mind our own business. It really saddens me to see how negative people can be in their comments. Sometimes it feels like they haven’t even given the post a thoughtful read before jumping to conclusions.
Once again, thank you for the grace that I always find here – grace for myself and others. I never worry about pointing people to this blog. It is such an encouraging place to come.
Thank you for your encouragement, Jennifer. That is my goal, and it means a lot to me that you receive it that way.
I just wanted to say that as a fellow blogger this article is spot on. I get disheartened by parenting sites promoting blogs that only further divide mothers. After one particular blog dedicated to why a mom with one parenting style simply could not be friends with a mom with a different style I wrote this blog – http://hvparent.com/opposites-attract-parenting-edition.
I think we are what we read. Garbage in, garbage out. So thank you to you and your wife for using your words to encourage, uplift and inspire. It’s not easy. Every time you put yourself out there you make yourself vulnerable. I still hold my breath and wait for the negativity every single time. But here’s what I’ve learned. There are a million ways to tear someone down but there is nothing to show for your work when you do. I write for the one person who may need to hear that message. Again I say thank you to you and Erin for being a forum for inspiration and encouragement.
Thank you Erin! I feel like it is so much easier to tear people down. Building them up and encouraging them takes time and energy, but it is so very worth it.
Such wise words here for us! The “Mommy Wars” are unfortunately alive and well, as evidenced clearly by our online behavior. People feel a certain anonymity in their virtual behavior, and feel free to spew some really ugly things. Several of your points remind me of points I made in a recent post about how to handle our hardest relationships. The post originated with a friend who shared four simple but life-changing words that have provided great perspective about extending grace in relationships and even to myself. http://adivineencounter.com/four-words
Thanks for sharing a guy’s perspective! You have every right to an opinion on this, and I’m glad you took the time to share it with us.
Thank you Jennifer. I think you are right. These things can apply to many areas of life.
Kelly @ The Nourishing Home
Amen, and amen! This is such a blessing to read! You two are such an amazing couple. I praise God for you and pray He will continue to bless you as you bring glory to Him in all you do! Thank you for sharing this beautiful truth with us! Big hugs and prayers for you daily, Kelly
P.S. I am still laughing over the unicorn illustration! That is hilarious! Love you too! xoxo
I just couldn’t resist that one…haha -Will
Amen! Completely agree……..we should be encouraging each other and if you don’t agree with it- that is ok- we all make choices for our families that others may not understand – but it is our choice and negatively commenting doesn’t do any good for anyone! Why compare/compete and judge when we can lift up and support! Great post!
Thank you, Gina. I think we all need a little encouragement from time to time.
Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life
So much great wisdom here! Thank you for taking the time to write this. I think that even if we are not prone to voicing negativity and intentionally furthering the “mommy wars”, there is still a lot that we should reflect on and put into practice.
This line: “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.” especially stood out to me. Along the same vein, putting into practice the habit of giving people the benefit of the doubt and not assuming they are judging us can make such a big difference in our hearts and in our relationships. I’ve actually written about a similar topic too (http://www.thispilgrimlife.com/i-promise-i-am-not-judging-you/).
Thank you again for this post. I hope we all take it to heart and use the gift of online community profitably and wisely. 🙂
I love what you said about giving people the benefit of the doubt and not assuming things. That really does go a long way.
Great post! Before I had kids, I think I was a little judgmental on why moms did certain things. After having my first daughter, I was totally humbled and now I get it. We are all different and make parent differently but that doesn’t make us any less of moms. 🙂 Now I’ve learned to support and love.
Having kids does change things and humble us in many ways. I know it has for me.
I was a little surprised when I read this article. I had considered unfollowing this website due to the fact that the author of the blog, Erin, actually made ME cry when I pointed out that a product she was promoting was not as natural as it claimed to be and had tea toxicity concerns. My reason for pointing this out was that I had been duped by the company myself, and suffered from the ingredients in question, and I wanted to help others. I was then given a very harsh, in your face, type of reply that honestly broke my heart.
And this dear ladies, is why I am going to ‘unfollow’ and ‘unlike’ all of the mommy-blogs that I currently receive wall posts from multiple times per day. God had entrusted our children to us, and we alone are going to give an account of how we spent time and money. Please keep an eternal perspective! Just because a mom online does a certain thing with or for her children, doesnt mean you have to do it that way! Please, please remember while the Internet may be helpful with tips and tricks, God will give you what you need to raise your children, to love and serve Him, which should be the chief goal of every parent.
Thinking before we speak and treating others the way we wish to be treated – what notions huh? Simple instructions given to us which could truly make a positive impact on the day-to-day, yet they can be so hard to follow. Good job shedding light on a known but generally ignored topic!
And singing “Let It Go” and quoting Daniel Tiger score some really cool daddy points I’m sure 🙂
a pastor's wife
Amen! The mommy wars happen in the church too. But I would also say that people are so used to giving vent to their words online that it happens alot more in real life too. As a pastor’s wife I’ve had gossip/slander come back to me about my husband and it is all a product of a critical spirit. At times we have felt like shredded wheat and wondered why we are in ministry when people are so quick to criticize everything. We have to frequently remind ourselves that we are in ministry because of Christ’s call on our lives. We must please Him alone.
I am offended by that unicorn. Everybody knows that unicorns poop rainbows but I don’t want to SEE it. Gosh, cover up!
Totally joking. Because you are so right that someone will be offended by just about anything.
I’m sure this assessment isn’t true for all mommies, but I have found that the most judgmental moms seems to be those who only have one or two children. At least for me, I could hang onto some vague sense that I knew something about parenting when I only had two, but by the time number three arrived I realized I knew nothing about anything and each child is so wildly different from the next that what worked for my first two will never work for my third; and if that is true for just me, I can’t imagine how true it is for other mommies!! We are all so different and our children are so different and so we will each do this motherhood differently and that’s amazing. At least in my circles, it’s the moms of three or more that are the most supportive: “Do what you gotta do, mama. Carry on!”
As a former teacher I worked with and observed many parents. Now I’m a stay at home mother and I work with and observe other parents in a different way. I can assure you it is not just women who perpetuate the “mommy wars.” It’s men, too. And they are doing all of the things you mentioned. It’s so disappointing.