Constructive criticism? NOT!

Here’s what I know about parenting and raising children – regardless of what you may believe, there is NO one right way. Your way is not the only way to do things.

There is not one way to feed. Yes, I am a breastfeeding advocate and hope for all mothers and babies to have the experience as well as the long list of health benefits that comes from it. But I’ve seen many circumstances where, for one reason or another, it wasn’t working, including because the mother simply didn’t want to breastfeed. It’s my place to provide knowledge, information and guidance, and then ultimately to support the mother’s decisions that are best for her family. Not my family. Hers.

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And for those who think they must criticize the breast-feeders, get over it. It’s feeding a baby. Food, sustenance, fuel, nutrition. Let it go already.

There is no right or wrong about staying home with your child versus going back to work. Or using an in-home nanny versus daycare. Or hiring help to get your baby sleeping better instead of toughing it out on your own. These are personal decisions that have many, many subtle – or not so subtle – components factoring into them. They are not up for discussion by outsiders who don’t walk in the same shoes or have all the facts.

What difference does it make to you anyway? How does your neighbor’s choice affect you? My unprofessional analysis is that others judge because it makes them feel better about their own different decisions. In some weird way, those who are judging and ridiculing others must subconsciously think that THEIR choices may be wrong, so they criticize to feel right.

And since I’m not a psychologist and I don’t play one on TV, I decided to ask a real one what her take is on these mommy wars I’ve seen play out over and over again. “People resort to harsh or negative judgments of others for various reasons.  Some people are convinced of the “rightness” of their stance, others are insecure and only feel ok about what they’re doing if they put down others. And honestly, some people just like gossip,” says Lisa Sacco, a private practice psychologist in Cary. “Regardless of the reasons for it, it’s a waste of time and energy.” Agreed.

I had my own experience recently. A segment ran on the news last month about sleep coaches. I went to the piece online to leave a comment about being a sleep coach and was shocked by the mean posts people left about those who choose to hire help vs. toughing it out alone.

Yes, it’s true, sleep coaching is a newer field, and yes, people hire us to help them get their babies and children sleeping better.  Sure, in the old days, we figured it out on our own. We also had sisters and mothers and aunts who lived nearby helping us. Nowadays, most of my clients don’t have that luxury. And with all the information out there on the Internet, in books and on DVDs, it can be daunting to try to figure it out on your own. A well-trusted person in your life without any personal agendas may be able to help assess the unique situation and give sound advice on how to proceed.

We don’t know where others are coming from – what their life with baby (or babies) started off like. It could have been a miserable, colicky beginning. The parents may have done whatever they could in the early months just to survive.

More power to you if you can do it on your own! And good for you for the choices you make for your family.

But in the meantime, live and let live, would ya?!