Hello Readers! Today, I really want to touch upon an issue that plagues all of us moms and is something we’ve been through: the criticism we receive as first time moms. I know a lot of you are probably groaning as you recall that constant “advice” you received, often unwarranted or unwanted, about how to “parent”. And I’m sure you sometimes felt like others were calling you an unfit mother or something similar.
I’m here to tell you, you are not alone. And if you currently experience this or you are a new mom going through this right now, I will tell you that nearly every new mom endures this. So, why is that?
For starters, most people think they mean well when they try to give advice. I say they
“think they mean well” and not that they mean well because quite frequently people don’t realize how damaging their “advice” can be. It’s hard to see it sometimes, and even I am guilty of offering advice, although I really try to abstain from the practice unless I’m asked. The truth is we all think that we know what it takes to be a parent because we’ve been so successful since now. But the truth is that not everyone is the same, not every parenting style works for everyone the same way, and not every child is the same. So offering advice about parenting can often be an offensive gesture because of this.
Now, I get that this is a little ironic coming from someone who writes a weekly post about parenting practices. The fact is that I’m not an expert in child psychology. But I can offer some tips that have worked for myself and other moms in the past. And I can offer a sympathetic mom who struggles every day to be the best I can be. I also know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the criticism and how much it hurts to have someone critique how you feed your child, how you discipline your child, how you aren’t disciplining your child, how your child won’t eat veggies and that’s somehow your fault, or how you have sleep trained your child too early and too late in life all at the same time. The fact is that I have received the same criticisms that many of you have received, sometimes from the same people. And almost every time, the advice offered has felt like a slap in the face although that wasn’t the intention.
I have been there. I still am there. I still get the new mom criticism. And I know my own mother still gets new mom criticism even though her baby, aka me, is a grown woman with a child of her own. Take heart, dear Readers, and know that for the rest of your life you will experience new mom criticism.
Unless we do something about it now.
I’m not saying to start any fights. But we should take it to heart how we deliver the advice and pay attention to what we say, and how we say it, to one another. For me, I offer advice only when it’s requested. And on here, I try to only spend one day a week on parenting to avoid the overkill of advice.
I do this because I, myself, grew tired of the constant barrage of “advice” that bordered on destructive criticism on my parenting skills. I started cringing whenever I encountered anyone who had motherly advice for me. And even now I cringe whenever my parenting choices are questioned. My own opinion is that as long as my child is fed, clothed, safe, and sound then all is right in the world.
And that’s how I feel we should look at parenting. Sure, there are “rules” or societal norms that most of us should attempt in our household, but it doesn’t hold true for everyone. I have ideas, but I am not an expert. Needless to say, I go through my own criticisms as a new mom.
Currently, I have been experiencing criticism over our son Sean’s eating habits. Sean doesn’t like vegetables and he won’t eat them. At all. I have tried all kinds of methods to get him to eat his veggies with no luck. So, I gave up feeling guilty and at least tried to bump up his other sources of nutrients. He eats fruit, and he loves fruit. So, he gets fruit. I was doing a juice that had both fruits and vegetables, but it is arduous and can be expensive. And, on top of it, I was still getting criticized for his lack of veggie intake. It took some time to get over it, but after discussing the matter with my mommy adviser I decided to let it go. Now, the criticism is nothing more than a nuisance.
My final point I want to make about new mom criticism is that all moms should have a mommy adviser that they know and trust. This is someone who you can reach out to for help and advice about your parenting or about what you should do. It could be a parent. It could be a friend. It could be an older sister. For me, it’s a friend that’s really into the parenting thing and wants to be a delivery room nurse. She only offers me advice when I ask, and her approach is very comforting and understandable.
My experience with her has led me to be that type for others, and I have often been asked for advice without prompt. And that actually feels better than offering unwanted advice because you know the new mom is eager for your advice. At these times, I always try to give them a couple of options to try and I always make sure they know they aren’t alone in their problem. I had a friend with an infant who was desperate for advice on breastfeeding when Sean was almost six months old. This friend had had difficulties producing milk and had tried every tip and trick out there to bump up her production. I, myself, had experienced something similar and had had difficulties producing from the beginning. And Sean had refused to latch at six weeks. After much heartache and feelings of despair, I congratulated myself for at least trying day and night to produce and I moved on. And Sean is still fine; he had at least gotten the colostrum, and that was fine by me. I told my friend about my own experience and what my research into breastfeeding difficulties had said. Just hearing that another mom had gone through it had done a lot to ease her worries. She stopped struggling after that and gave in. And I’m happy to say that her baby is quite healthy and both are happy.
My point is that we should all try to be mommy advisers for new moms. Always let them know that they can always come to you for advice or help, but we should stop giving unwanted advice or criticism. We all believe our parenting skills are the best; but we are all still novices in this field, no matter how many kids we have. And each person, each family, and each child is different and unique from others. As long as the kids are fine, then we are all doing it the way we should be.
Until next time,