We love a bit of T-Swizzle in this house, and we’re getting better at just shakin’ it off when the shit hits the fan. As I’m becoming more immersed in the world of parent blogging, I’ve become astounded by the amount of writing fuelled by upset at others’ judgements of parenting styles. I’m not naive enough to think the the haters aren’t out there, and my own hatred of social media yummy mummy memes and glossiness is well founded now, but I really am shocked at some of judgements cast on parents – by other parents.
Already this morning, I have read an article on one woman masturbating* to get her through labour pains and another on why a mother chose extended breastfeeding. The former, predictably, attracted quite fiery responses. People claiming it was unnatural and an epidural should have sufficed and others suggesting this lady was perverted for bringing her child into the world that way. Whilst I’m really having to hold back on making some very very rude remarks about the intelligence levels of these commentors, I couldn’t help but reel in awe at the mass of comments to the above effects.
With the, I believe, less contentious article about extended breastfeeding, I was even more surprised. Not as much by vapid, half-witted comments (though these weren’t that much better), but simply at the proportion of unkind, unhelpful, judgemental opinions that were aired. Perhaps I’m coming at this issue from a biassed point of view – I breastfed Monster Minor for 14 months… does that count as extended? – but really, does using human milk to feed a baby/toddler/child for a significantly minute percentage of their lives warrant comments such as ‘Neurotic behavior by needy women’, and ‘ Breastfeeding grosses me out. I don’t think I’ll be able to do so if I ever have a baby, because the whole thing absolutely disgusts me.’ and ‘So… You nurse for your own benefit because you can’t let it go. Clearly it’s not for his nutritional needs.’
What is so wrong with sitting on the fence? How has the art of mumbling ‘hmm.. that’s an interesting idea’ with a nervous smile painted on, become so lost? The whole ‘if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’ is kind of lost on the internet, and from what I can see, it becomes an open forum for judging and criticising.
Of course, there’s an argument to suggest that you shouldn’t publish things on the most public arena we have, if you don’t want an onslaught. I get that. I air some fairly honest opinions on my blog, and would be foolish and naive if I thought I wouldn’t get some disagreement. I’m fortunate enough to only have one unkind comment made – and I actually quite enjoyed the to- and froing that the squabble brought. But I know that if I hadn’t have found it so easy to
outsmart placate this hater, I would’ve felt quite downtrodden. Silly that, I put my, rather strong, opinions out there, on an emotionally-driven topic, when I know I’m inviting responses that have the potential to unsettle me.
And I think other writers are generally the same. The enjoyment of writing outweighs the risk of criticism. Even so, when no negative, judgey, critical thoughts are put out there, how does it still reel in those angry, hateful, belligerent commentors? I’m not talking Daily Fail articles, or The Sun pictures. I’m talking Parent Bloggers, writing about their day, their eating habits, their take on raising their children. Why does this attract others to spout abusive judgements about why their take is totally satanic?
No one gets it right 100% of the time. I doubt many get it right 75% of the time. But most try their best. And most try a lot harder than their best. So what’s to judge? Why not just get off your battle horse and take a pew on the fence? The view is quite overarching from up there and the air much cooler. Without sounding like a total nob, parents need to stand together. It’s a proper shit-shovelling job, and everyone is shovelling shit. Seriously, what is there to judge when, breastfeeding or not, baby-led weaning or not, controlled crying or not, we’re all just shovelling shit?
I read an article a couple of years ago which suggested choosing two or three things that are really important to you when raising children, and then accepting that you’ll have to let the rest go. Amongst other things, Husband Dearest and I decided that it was very important to us to teach our children to respect mealtimes around a dinner table (at home or out) and behave appropriately throughout. It’s going REEEAALLLYYY fucking well. Monster Major now sometimes chooses to eat his food with cutlery rather than hands, and Monster Minor now only puts his feet on the table at the end of a meal. WIN! (We should’ve chosen something simple like don’t kick old people or keep your pants on in the park, but hey-ho.) Would I judge a family that choose to eat on the sofa watching Peppa Pig? Hell no. I’d bloody pull up a stool and join them, leaving Husband Dearest futilely insisting ‘we don’t get down from the table until everyone has finished’, in the next room.
Since becoming a parent, I must’ve said the phrase ‘if it works for them…’ a million times. (See Snapshot #11) But it’s a parenting mantra. I cannot understand why the haters are still out there, judging other parents. Our little people are a verminous, snot-spraying, finger paint-wielding army, and parents need to remember – it’s safety in numbers. We need to climb the short distance to the top of the fence, and perch there proudly – upsetting no one, patting each others’ backs, and all muttering ‘FFS’ in unison.
—I say I don’t judge. You may sense some judgement in the manner in which I comment on the stereotypical ‘Yummy Mummy’. This isn’t true judgement. It’s envy. If I could do crafts, whilst breastfeeding, whilst making home-grown carrot and quinoa pancakes, whilst not swearing, whilst standing on my head, whilst my beautifully Baby Boden clad darlings complied angelically, I’d Instagram the hell out of that shit and plaster it across every social media platform going. But alas, I can’t. And I doubt you can either. I can see that half-necked glass of gin hiding behind the Ocado delivery… —
*I do think this term was wrongly used for the shock factor. Scientifically, she was stimulating a part of her body to generate oxytocin production. This then helped to block/distract pain receptors and help labour progress. Just the same principle as using nipple tweaking and sex to give labour a kick up the bum. Or up the vag, if you will.