Why can’t we all just get along?

by shirtyherself

I’ve got six weeks to go until my bundle of joy makes her way into the world, and in the interest in getting as much information, advice, and support as possible I’ve joined/browsed a few baby forums and read reviews on the books of “experts.”

One thing seems to be abundantly clear on these forums, and that’s the dynamic of “us versus them.” Are you an attachment parent, are you detached, are you a helicopter parent, are you breastfeeding or formula feeding, or are you just letting your child run naked through fields – what sort of parent are you? And you’d better choose the right answer, lest you get flamed and shamed into believing you’re a bad mummy because you don’t think the methods used by another parent are right for you and your baby.

There are many heated debates over what parenting style is best, and a lot of them are based around the words of people who may not have psychological/medical training regarding children and could be seen as purely anecdotal, but some parents out there swear by the techniques used – even ones that could be potentially dangerous. But hey, it works, right? Hmmmm.  Yeah, I’m not on board with doing anything that isn’t recommended by actual baby health professionals, but that’s my choice. And while I agree that there are techniques out there that work for some parents and their baby, it doesn’t mean they work for everybody – but according to some, “you’re just not doing it right.” Well, how about realising that not every baby is the same, therefore won’t respond to the same things another baby might? It’s not necessarily the fault of the mother if things like controlled crying don’t work, but yet so many of these forums would have you believe that it is.

Shouldn’t instinct come into play? How many archaeologists have dug up ancient texts on how to get your cave baby to sleep? Women have been having babies for thousands of years, and we’ve never, since the beginning of time, been given a manual that has all the right answers. So how can anybody call themselves an expert, and how can some mothers put all their faith in someone who does and feel that they are now entitled to bully other mothers into thinking the same way, or else their child will be forever damaged? Look, I haven’t done this parenting thing before, but I’ll give it my best shot, and if I get to a point where what I’m doing doesn’t seem to be working then I’ll seek reputable advice. I’m not too proud to ask for help, especially with the most important thing I’ll do in my life.

You know, seeing as how raising a child is the hardest, most important thing a woman will do, shouldn’t there be a bit more of a sisterhood around? How is it helpful to a new mum who goes onto a baby forum seeking advice, only to possibly leave feeling worse about the situation because she apparently doesn’t fit under any of the labels mentioned above?  I’m baffled that we need multiple labels at all – I would have thought “Parent” was the only one needed. After all, we all want to make sure our child is fed, clothed, well rested, sociable, educated, respected, well-treated…I could go on, I’m sure. Surely all of those things sit nicely under the label of “Parent.”

So, can we please dispense with the bullying, the flaming, the shaming? Can we increase the support, love and care? And can we all just get along?