As mothers, I’m pretty sure we can all say that we are guilty, from time to time, of passing judgement on the parenting style of another. I’ve been at this job for five years now and I am not innocent of critiquing the way another mom is doing it and thinking my way is better. On the other hand, and more often than not, I am constantly questioning, worrying and wondering if my way actually is the right way…so who am I to judge?
I recently read an article in the Globe and Mail (and the reaction that followed) about Elisabeth Badinter’s book, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women. In it, Badinter, a philosopher, professor and mother, shares her concerns that “seemingly progressive” parenting styles (i.e. attachment parenting) are undoing the hard work of the feminist movement, limiting a woman from reaching her full potential. I tend to disagree.
What I believe is anti-feminist, is being un-supportive of and judgmental about women’s choices around what works best for them in terms of parenting. Actress and parenting author Mayim Bialik wrote a rebuttal to Badinter’s theories in The New York Times entitled, “Attachment Parenting is Feminism”. In it she states those who embrace attachment philosophies
“…are educated, humble and devoted women who believe it is just as much a feminist choice to be [an attachment] parent as it is to not be one.”
She’s right. Motherhood is not a “one size fits all” endeavor. What works and feels right for one woman, doesn’t work and feels wrong to another. Isn’t one of the points of feminism to honor the choices afforded to us by the women before us who fought for them? I applaud Bialik (probably best know for her role as “Blossom” in the ’90s series of the same name) and think it takes a woman who has a great deal of self-confidence and intelligence to be strong in her own opinions about parenting, while realizing and respecting that her particular philosophy is not for everyone.
For crying out loud…some of us (would you believe) don’t even have a “philosophy”…we parent from our hearts, from instinct. Some of us read every book we can get our hands on. Some of us embrace new philosophies or techniques each week until we find what works for us. Some of us decide to take time off work to be with our kids, only to realize that we need careers outside the home to feel whole. Others go back to work and discover that being at home with our kids is what brings the most satisfaction. Some of us remain conflicted for years about whether or not we are making the best choices for ourselves and our children.
Here’s the truth. We are all different. None of us are perfect. There is no “right” way. Finally, regardless of whether you co-sleep or Ferberize, bottle feed or breastfeed, go to work or stay at home – if you love your child, instill confidence and empathy in them, and provide them with a safe, loving and nurturing environment, they will likely turn out to be a-okay.
This Mother’s day, take the time to tell another mom what you like about what she is doing. Most of us don’t get told enough and, surely, it would be refreshing to hear what we are doing right for a change.