The past few days have been an opportunity for me to realize just how judgmental some of us attachment parenting types can be. I’ve been working on a business plan for a proposal we’re about to present and have come across several articles and blogs that have shown a whole new light on the attitudes and presupmtions that seem to become an ingrained part of every mother’s psyche regardless of her parenting philosophy. I think part of it is an unspoken need to defend our choices but an even larger part is (as one of the articles I read lately points out) a need to be ‘right’. Most of us have an underlying need for approval and even if we’d never admit it out loud, we abhor being wrong. I’ve watched directors of hugely successful programs (recently) fabricate something rather than admit they don’t know the answer. It’s a symptom of the human condition……..we never think we’re good enough to really be doing the job someone has entrusted us with and we sometimes wonder if we’re going to be ‘found out’ one day.
I don’t think parenting is something that should be approached from that perspective, though. There are very few parenting issues that are strictly black or white and taking a view that only allows you to make decisions from a right or wrong perspective could very well be dangerous.
For example, a good friend and past client of ours had high aspirations during her pregnancy that she would have a beautiful, natural birth and that she would breastfeed her baby for a year or longer and that her parenting experience would be some glorious, natural dreamland. Of course, that was her ideal……what she didn’t expect was that as soon as she got home with her little cherub, she would start having SEVERE bouts of postpartum depression. Not only did she end up bottlefeeding, but she needs medication every day to control her depression. For her, it came down to a choice between living her ideal experience and being sane.
See…….for some of us, there are parenting decisions that are our of our hands. This friend KNEW deep in her soul that she was a breastfeeding mama. In fact, I bet if you’d asked her before her postpartum experience, she might have told you that she was intolerant of anything less. It was a hard decision for her when she finally caved in and walked away from breastfeeding but it was a necessary choice. I think that any of us who might judge her for that are working from a place much more black and white than parenting should be approached from. I personally applaud her efforts to be the kind of mom she needs to be for her sweet baby girl even if it means that she sacrifices some of her dream in the process. She and her daughter will develop a stronger bond and a MUCH healthier relationship for it.
If you’ve got people in your life who parent differently than you do, take a step back today to explore your feelings about it and remember that the ultimate goal in parenting is intact, healthy kids AND parents. Accepting that what’s right for YOUR family might not work for somebody else’s family may very well open the door to friendships you never imagined and a whole world of alternative perspectives. That accomplishes one of two things…..assuring you that you’re headed in the right direction OR opening your eyes to another way of looking at parenting that might prompt you to make positive choices you would never have considered otherwise. Who knows? In the midst of it, you might have the same affect on another mama and make a lifelong friend in the process! 🙂
WMC Doula, Amy Jones