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Wednesday
Aug292012

The Mommy Wars Made Me a Better Parent

I distinctly remember the moment when we decided to become parents. There was never really any doubt that we would have children at some point. It was more a question of when. Shortly after the conversation where we made up our minds and decided to take the plunge, I booked a pre-pregnancy appointment with my doctor and then I hit the bookstore. I was looking for two books, maybe three -- something to guide me through pregnancy and childbirth (after all, I didn't want to go and sit in one of those silly classes with those other weird couples) and something to guide me through the first year or so of parenting. We didn't need classes and all the awkward socializing with strangers, I thought. I would just read. We would just read.

Standing there staring at the wall of books in the pregnancy and parenting section, I started skimming a few of them. I approached my search much like I would approach the search for a book on learning the finer points of Microsoft Excel. I wanted it to be comprehensive and detailed, but also presented in an easy to digest format. Of course, a good index, clear subheadings and a frequently asked questions section was critical. In the end, I left with two pregnancy books (in retrospect, one exceptionally good and one pretty bad) and a fairly nondescript mainstream parenting book with a week by week run-down of what the baby would do and how we should react.

So, I read. I drank the "how-to-grow-and-care-for-a-baby" Kool-Aid. Was it all intuitive? No. Was it all exactly as I remembered it from observing my mother or from babysitting? No. But that's okay. I bought the latest books, so they must be right. Right?

So, I had my mainstream birth. I saw an obstetrician. I had the tests done, I didn't bother with a birth plan, I timed contractions when the time came, and I showed up at the hospital when I was told to. I told them right away that of course I wanted the epidural IMMEDIATELY. I mean, who wants to deal with pain? I rested when they told me to, I pushed when they told me to, and I tore as they suctioned him out of me with the contraption that looked just like the bathroom plunger.

"Have you tried to breastfeed him yet?", asked the nurse as we were resting maybe an hour or so after the birth. No, I hadn't. I was waiting for someone to tell me what to do, to explain it to me. After all, I didn't have a "plan". I was putting myself in their expert care, at least until they pushed me out the door two days later. So she explained it and I tried and it didn't work. My baby didn't latch on. Not that moment, not that day, not that week, not even that month. No, not until he was 7.5 weeks old.

That moment -- the one where he didn't latch on when he was supposed to -- broke the what to expect cycle. No one told me to expect that. What do I do now? I checked the index of the books, I scanned the table of contents, I flipped through the pages. Nothing told me what to do. It was like some fatal error in Microsoft Excel that the author of the Dummies book had never experienced. I went back to the bookstore and I looked at the breastfeeding books. Half of them assumed every baby latches on and the other half told me I was a bad parent if I didn't breastfeed. Great, super helpful.

Then I cried.

Then I cried some more.

Then I cried even more as I used the stupid breast pump and felt sorry for myself.

Then, I turned to the Internet. I searched "exclusively pumping", thinking that maybe that was an option and maybe I would find some articles about it on the vast World Wide Web. I found a few, but none that were really helpful. I did, however, find an Exclusively Pumping message board on ivillage that became my safe haven. Suddenly, I had somewhere where I could ask my questions. Immediately, I had people who understood what I was going through.  It was incredible.

But then I met flame wars. Out of control wildfire flaming mommy wars. And I sat there at my computer with my baby on my lap and my mouth gaping wide open.

The nondescript mainstream parenting book said that once babies reach a certain age or size, you leave them to cry at night or they'll never learn to sleep. But now some woman on the Internet is raging about how that is a horrible thing to do and you'll ruin your child for life.  The nondescript mainstream parenting book said that babies all get vaccinated according to a specific schedule. But now some woman on the Internet is raging about how that causes autism. The nondescript mainstream parenting book said that it is dangerous to sleep with your baby. But now some woman on the Internet is raging about how anti-co-sleeping campaigns are irresponsible, will reduce breastfeeding rates, increase sleeplessness, and are not based on any facts whatsoever. The nondescript mainstream parenting book said that you need to introduce cereal around 4 months and be finished weaning by the time a baby is around a year old. Now some woman in the Internet is raging about the need to delay solids and OMG SHE IS STILL BREASTFEEDING HER FIVE YEAR OLD.

The accusations of irresponsible parenting, bad science, and irrevocable damage to our children were thrown back and forth. People jumped all over each other and others jumped in to back up their friends. The exclamation marks and little flame icons popped up next to conversation threads and moderators had to delete posts and remind people to play nice. Not that it ever really sunk in, because the cycle would start all over again the next day.

Yes, I sat there with my mouth gaping wide open, sometimes feeling sorry for the people who were being attacked in such a cruel way by others. But secretly, I have to confess that I appreciated those flaming hot threads. It is obviously horrible when you are a direct participant or target in a heated confrontation on parenting styles, but for those observing, I do think there is some value. These flame wars opened my eyes to issues that I never realized were issues. I didn't form opinions based on those conversations alone, but they did serve as a flag. They told me that these issues weren't as black and white as the mainstream parenting books would have me believe and perhaps there is more to the story than meets the eye. They forced me to research, discuss, and consider the choices that I made. They saved me from making choices that I might have later regretted (or maybe not if I remained in the dark).

Instead of simply going along with what a book told us to do, what our mothers did, or what other mothers in our neighbourhood do, a downright nasty, sirens blaring, tempers flaring argument over parenting styles grabs our attention and forces us to consider our own positions.  Much like a political attack ad, which is designed more to catch your attention than to convey key information, the mommy wars have the potential to jolt us out of our complacency and get us to think more carefully about our choices.

There is a lot to be said for the "I do what is right for my family and you do what is right for your family" philosophy. I have to admit (somewhat sheepishly), however, that I don't think those types of conversations would ever have caught my eye. So when I look at all the heated and sometimes hurtful discussions that happen on the Internet, I do think it is too bad that we can't all get along, but I also hope that they at least serve the purpose of making us think.

Recently, when Rebecca Eckler wrote about leaving her 10 week old baby to go on vacation and the Internet reacted viciously, my thought was: meh, maybe it forced someone to think about it in a way they hadn't considered. In this instance (unlike some of the "mommy wars"), I do think Eckler probably knew what she was getting into when she decided to write about it and she did it anyway. I'm not sure if she was thinking about other moms when she decided to write it, but I do think the conversation that it sparked probably forced a lot of new parents to consider whether they would ever leave a 10 week old baby to go away and also to consider what their own criteria might be for deciding when the right time is to take a vacation without their kids.

There is so much that is awful and hurtful about people pointing a finger at a woman and saying that she is a bad parent. But is it awful for me to say that my parenting has benefited tremendously from those flame wars?

« Sometimes I Don't Want To Be a Parent (Guest Post) | Main | On La Leche League Canada's Discriminatory Leader Criteria »

Reader Comments (44)

I can so relate, in fact I practically could have written it, that is how similar our experiences were.

And I'm trying very, very hard not to click on the link about Eckler because I tend to keep out of the drama these days, and anything I've ever read by her or about her makes flames shoot out of my ears. Must. Not. Look.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

Great post, thank you :) All too often mothers are slammed for their emotive discussions but I agree, sometimes it's the heartfelt words that make people sit up and take notice. And we can learn from those discussions. I have many a time had my opinion or insight changed by a heartfelt opposing view, but I certainly haven't learned anything from someone shrugging and saying "whatever works for you."

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim

I love this Annie. I don't know if the internet makes me a better parent per se, but I *think* it helps make me a better person. I am slower to judge, more willing to listen to both sides of an argument, and better informed. On the flip side, there are times those flame wars are a big giant rabbit hole and actually suck the life out of me. Makes me sad to see so much hatred over issues that I deem rather inconsequential in the big scheme of things....like Rebecca Eckler leaving her baby at 10 weeks. If mom's going on vacation at 10 weeks without their babies was running at epidemic levels than I could see healthy debate arising over whether or not this was good for the child. It's not though and the level of noise on that was a teensy outrageous IMHO. Those are the days I have to walk away from the internet, because it's not making me a better person, just an irritated one :)

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCandace Derickx

I was in a foreign country when my baby was 3-9 months old. I didn't have access to books & desperately searched the internet for information. I found way too much and still felt torn and confused. Then when I finally broke through all the "mainstream" information it seemed I stumbled upon (to me) a secret & magical garden of "alternative parenting." Yours was one of the first places I came across and I was soooo grateful. I read almost every blog entry. Your writing and thoughtfulness made me feel I could trust you as a reliable resource. I read some of those flaming comments after some of your posts, but mostly I felt I could get good information here. I had many, "huh, you can DO that?!" moments on your blog. Needless to say you can do almost anything as a parent and people do. Thankfully there are sites like yours that offer an alternative pathway when the "other" ways don't cut it for some of us.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

Annie - it is during one of these "mommy wars" that I found your blog. It opened my eyes to a different way of thinking (actually, I don't think my husband and I were really "thinking" mainstream when we had our first) but you for sure expanded my knowledge of what some of the important baby topics are.

As always, another excellent blog post.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

So, yes the flaming makes us think. It makes me think people are freaking crazy and need to mind their own damned business. I hate flaming, it is the polar opposite of listening or learning, but those of us silently observing are certainly learning about the dregs of human or inhuman behavior. I think the most entrenched people in the mommy wars are those who are hyper-defensive about their own choices because they're paranoid or deluded or narcissistic enough to think other people care.

But, OMG. . . Eckler, Eckler, where do I know that name? Then I remembered. I read Knocked Up researching parenting memoirs for my own book. I am SO VERY unsurprised by this vacation situation. Whatever. . . I think if we're having parenting debates it should be about real mothers not cartoons. Eckler is a cartoon just like Snooki , the skinny drink lady whose name I don't care to remember, and pick a Kardashian. This is not real ground that needs to be covered. Most new mothers can't afford a vacation much less take one. It's like debating Mitt Romney's race horses. Total non-issue for real people.

Anyway, I do love your blog and it all started with you standing up for my lovely friend Kristine. More power to you - and your flame free voice helps us all learn together. See, you're teaching by example. Bless your precious soul!

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda Rose Adams

Thank you, Molly. What a thoughtful comment. I really appreciate it.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Then the "mommy wars" have other benefits too. Thanks Cindy. :)

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Well, yes. At the same time as being given the opportunity to think about my own choices, I certainly have learned about the dregs of inhuman behaviour. But at least something good came out of it???

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Of course we can make something good out of any bad experience. I turned my painful journey through my son's life-threatening condition and three brushes with death into two non profits, tens of thousands of dollars of research money, two medical conferences, and a book.

You have taken sour grapes of people who can't support another woman's right to make her own parenting decisions that differ from one's own and make a lovely and sweet wine of wisdom. I just think that requires insight and perspective to ferment, and that is what you've added to the equation that is not in the basic ingredients found amongst the flames. You've harvested pearls of wisdom to make your peace with the mommy wars, and THAT is to be commended.

Sorry if I seemed flip, I think what you're suggesting is marvelous. I also think it takes a strong sense of self to find that perspective, and that takes time away from the heat of argument and some degree of introspection. You have that in spades, sadly not everyone has the capacity to see beyond the heat.

With affection,
Amanda

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda Rose Adams

The beginning of this post made me totally reconsider your style of writing ... it was so real! I was agreeing with you! ;) (I jest, but in all seriousness, my first pregnancy and delivery was so similar that it brought back pangs just to read it.)

But then you lost me a bit at the end. I still think there is a way of laying out critical information on both sides of an issue without it requiring a "flame war." And I actually think that the more inflammatory posts have only served to divide mothers and make them feel wary about expressing their thoughts, anxieties, and even what they might conclude to be parenting mistakes. I think the more open the discussion, the better. But "flame wars" shut those down very quickly for most people. And in that kind of situation, the "mainstream" becomes the safest fall-back.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercoffee with julie

I certainly don't think flame wars are the ideal way of communicating. I would love it if open and thoughtful discussions laying out critical information from different perspectives in a non-inflammatory way got people's attention and made them think. I don't think that it does that most of the time, however. I think those discussions get glossed over and largely ignored.

In any case, my point isn't that we need more flame wars. It is just that as destructive as they are in many ways, I think I've personally benefitted from being an observer of them.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Off-topic a bit - Annie can you say what it was that prevented you from calling LLL in those first weeks of your baby's life? Or did you, and didn't get what you needed? I'm interested, not judging, I want to know why some mothers don't find an organisation that could help them. It could be some kind of reputation thing, or not knowing what you're likely to receive, or not knowing it exists, or a mix, or something else.... ?

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

Since becoming a mother, I have never felt more scrutinized and judged by society, and especially by my own peers. My daughter is now four and a half months old, and they have been by far the most difficult four and a half months of my life - not so much from anything she has done (she is a sweet, happy baby) but because of all the doubt and uncertainty planted in my brain by other moms. It's amazing how ready people are to tell you you're doing it all wrong as soon as you have a kid. I agree those who post in the comment sections of blogs and articles are by far the worst.

Maybe it's because I'm still in that thick haze of early motherhood that I have a hard time saying this sort of environment has made me a better parent. I hope I can come to that conclusion someday, when I'm more used to this whole mom thing.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHollie

Rachel:

I did reach out to LLL. Initially, I didn't know much about them, but I attended a baby show in Ottawa when he was about 1 week old and stopped at the LLL booth there. I talked to a woman who was lovely, but who informed me that since I don't live in Ottawa, I would need to contact the leader for the area that I do live in. She gave me her name and number. I called, told her I was a new breastfeeding mom in the area and was looking for support. Her answer curt, almost rude. Something along the lines of "...and???". I had expected her to ask how things were going, ask if I needed help, etc. But she just seemed annoyed that I was calling. So I stammered and asked when the next meeting was. She said "we had our meeting last night, so the next one is in 4 weeks". I thanked her and hung up and never did go to that meeting because I'd found other support by then.

Although you didn't ask about it specifically, I should probably mention that I was also working with an IBCLC, which was great, but she was available to me at specific appointment times, not any time of day and night like the Internet message boards were.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Really interesting post. I did the same thing with my first pregnancy -- hit the books, thinking I could figure it out. : ) Unfortunately, Ann's book wasn't available. I bought the pretty bad one. It was pretty bad. (Too bad I didn't know.)
Back then, (it was early 1996) there were no online flame wars. They happened in real life, by way of other women aggressively, stridently professing there was only one right choice -- bottle feeding, breastfeeding, medication for delivery, no medication, whatever. Even though I hadn't asked. It seemed like an axe to grind, wrapped in a baby rattle. And I agree with you. The shooting flames or axe splinters are cues to issues worth careful consideration.
To me, though, the flame wars are more worrisome than breast versus bottle, natural birth versus pain meds, crib versus co-sleeping. They're an alarming, up-close-and-personal snapshot of human life that's full of dissension, intolerance, mistrust and bigotry. Honestly? That makes me scared for all our kids.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPam @writewrds

Oh, what a nasty experience for you (of the nearer Leader)! When you needed some care and thought and ended up feeling squished. Ugh. LLL Leaders are trained to listen, reflect, empathise, not judge, offer information, discuss. Individuals may fall short of what they normally try to do etc etc. (I wonder what the meeting the night before was like...or what her family had just said to her about doing LLL all the time...or whatever - no excuses, that should not have happened.)

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

What bugs me most about the flaming rows, is that we're in there sniping at each other, and never noticing who is causing the oppression that we all suffer under. Why's nobody flaming Nestlé? (er, come and join me if you feel like it! Their Facebook page needs some new energy!) Why don't we hear more inflammatory remarks directed at the war-on-women politicians? It's possible I'm not looking in the right places, forgive me if there's a cohort working on that! What about the commercial companies that make and market the drugs that mess up birth? The politicians who don't implement maternity leave? The employers who sack women for daring to get pregnant? Cigarette manufacturers who target young women (so it's unsafe for them to sleep next to their babies). Alcohol ads likewise. I could go on.... ;-)

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

and I meant to say, many thanks for responding! I didn't mean 'Why didn't you get help?" (in a tone of exasperation) I meant "How did LLL put you off going there?" (in a tone of genuine enquiry!) I hear what you say!!

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

There's nothing wrong with saying it, because it's what worked for you and your family. Certainly, we have all learned something from these battles and learning is good thing. As long as there is logical thinking behind the opinions, let them flare!

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMomo Fali

I tried LLL when I was having trouble in those early days too. The once a month meetings are totally useless for actual help because the chance you need help the day of the meeting is slim. I called our central line and the message said they check their messages on Mondays and Fridays... I called on a Wednesday and I needed help now.

I love LLL now, but their system is just not set up to help mothers in the early days with actual feeding problems.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKrissyFair

KrissyFair, sounds like your local LLL is under pressure.... Here in the UK, the National Helpline is staffed by Leaders who can choose the times they're 'on', so callers have a good chance of getting through. (The call automatically goes through to the next volunteer on the list if it's not answered.) Still quite a few calls can't get answered, because demand is higher than supply!

Most groups also have a Leader's tel no on the national website too, or an email address that gets checked frequently. The monthly meetings provide information - and some groups can manage more than monthly. Mothers who can make contact while pregnant can get the Leaders' phone numbers so they can call when they need to.

The services LLL can provide locally all depends on having enough Leaders and members to support the Leaders' work. Glad you're enjoying a group now!

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

I'm a little torn on this. I don't think the name-calling/personal attacks/etc is positive, but I do think mothers passionately discussing the pros and cons of parenting practices is very positive. But I sort of hate the way it seems like everything is up for debate by everyone. I was really caught off guard as a new mom by how strongly people around me felt about how I was parenting. I have some relatives who may never talk to me again and think my husband and I are "uppity" because I wanted to hold my own 4 month old baby at family holiday instead of passing him around to dozens of people, and because I went and nursed in private much of the time instead of socializing while formula feeding (which is what all of them had done with their babies. Some didn't even do the feeding themselves-they passed the baby and the bottle off to assorted relatives). Anyway, I think there's sort of a mentality now that it's okay to debate and criticize parenting practices others have chosen specifically rather than discuss the topic in general more objectively, and I don't really like that. Does that make sense?

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrunchy Con Mommy

From the moment your child was conceived, everything is all up to you, how you want to bring him out in this world and nurture him. Sometimes these so-called mommy wars about parenting what nots just leave so many people confused. One good advice may or may not work for others. So might as well just follow your own momma instincts, right?

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterorganic mommy

I agree that name calling and personal attacks aren't a good thing. My point was simply that as bad as they are, I think I benefited from them. If the flames/exclamation marks hadn't called my attention to the discussions, I may not have ever noticed them at all.

I do also agree that there is a difference between debating and criticizing an individual's choice and discussion it openly in general terms.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I think one of the problems I had was that I didn't have those momma instincts right from the get go. I really did need to rely on external sources of information to help me find my path and figure things out.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I think our instincts get masked by the assumption that someone must know better than us. This is so true with us and the medical system too. We really want to trust doctors and nurses and it is no different with our babies. I was a clueless mess with my first one...it wasn't until 2nd and 3rd that I realized that I - me - could stand up and do what felt right to me...not to a book or anyone else. I agree that seeing all the dissent was helfpul in that it taught me that we all can be right and that every one has ways of doing things.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKerry Sauriol

I love the way you keep discussions very general-it's one of the things that has made me feel very welcome reading and commenting on PhD in Parenting posts despite being a conservative Christian. I know that you'll never attack me personally for choosing different parenting practices than you sometimes, and that you won't tolerate others doing the same (although you certainly will discuss the issues!) and I think that is just awesome. And it's a great way to get people to hear other viewpoints they would normally tune out much sooner-just the other day I found myself saying "that's such an elitist argument" on a conservative messageboard discussing an issue on which conservatives disagree amongst ourselves, and I blame you...in a good way-for making me think more about privilege and how it impacts parenting decisions and political issues :)

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrunchy Con Mommy

Yes, this is what I was going to say. What made things hard for me in the beginning was a lot of what I'd believed/was hearing/saw in mainstream media didn't fit with my instincts or work for the baby I had so I was very confused. My baby napped for 20 minutes at a time, was up every couple hours to nurse, and when I read about what he was "supposed" to do, I thought I was failing. When I read about how I was "supposed" to handle it (CIO, force him to go 3-4 hours between nursing etc. etc.), it just seemed wrong. So it was nice to discover there were other moms online who had been through the same thing, who offered other suggestions that made more sense to me. I felt less alone.

I definitely got pulled in by those "flame wars", though it was always frustrating to me that what could have been an interesting and educational debate always degenerated into "you think I'm a bad mom, you think you're better than me" and shut down any learning that might have happened. I no longer have the energy for that, which is kind of too bad because I liked the idea I might help another woman, as I had been helped.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

And to add, you are so right about wanting to trust medical professionals. It floored me to realize OBs and mat. ward nurses and peds don't even study lactation! It's shameful actually. And one of the things I try to tell moms-to-be to be aware of.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

I think the flame wars exist to different degrees IRL as much as they do behind the screen, although anonymity and instant communication certainly feed the fire online. Reading about hot topics and mommy wars has made me think a lot about how I parent. It's entrenched certain views, opened my mind to other possibilities, and sometims provided comic relief. We may not always like the voices we hear but at least we have somewhere to have a voice.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Reading through this reminded me of my reactions when I first found this page a few years before I had my daughter. Before having a child I thought some of your posts and so many of the comments in response were too over the top! They did give me food for thought and often prompted me to look further into particular topics but pre-child I found it hard to appreciate how passionately parents feel, especially when they are doing things outside of the 'mainstream' way and having positive results that they then want to share with people who maybe don't know any other way yet.

September 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZoe

Loved this post, Annie. This is exactly the attitude I want to have as a parent. Thanks for telling the story of your first birth, it hit home and made me understand your views a lot better.

September 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

This is an interesting post and I enjoyed it tremendously. Like you, I approached getting pregnant and having a baby (though in my case, it turned out to be babies, as in twins) like an academic project. Research, read, plan, plot, and then watch all of my careful planning fly out the window. Our posts this week are actually kind of similar, except that I talked about feeling pressured to keep up with the other mommies, and feeling like there was one right way to do the whole thing, and I wasn't doing it that way. I only got my head out of the sand to see the mommy wars a bit later. And by then, I already had the "I know what's best for my own kids" attitude in place.

It's wonderful to see people taking positives from the negatives in life, including flame wars. In my case, it's postpartum depression and depression in general. I feel like they've made me a better person and a better parent. Here's my link: http://www.angiekinghorn.com/2012/08/partly-cloudy-in-perpetuity/
I think you and I have a lot in common. So glad to have read this!

September 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngie Kinghorn

You know, I can relate 1000% to this post because I have also benefited from obtaining support on a message board and reading, in shock, to some of the mommy wars that occurred. And those flaming discussions completely changed the way I parent by opening my eyes to other, non-mainstream, possibilities. But I never even realized it until reading your post. I never considered the positive effects that those flame wars had on me.

I also would like to mention that some of the times, the flame wars began because someone dared to voice an opinion that wasn't mainstream and was then attacked by the mainstreamers who thought she was being pushy just because she voiced an opinion that differed from theirs... I'm just saying...

I love this post. I can totally relate. Not only did I learn about who I want to be as a parent from the Mommy Wars, but also the type of parent I don't want to be. I also learned a lot by the responses by others to the wars, on the fringe.

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCasey

Awesome post. I'll give you the perspective from a dad, with full knowledge that my exclusion from the experience of carrying, delivering, and breast-feeding a child is duly noted.

I feel things written with such passion as the mommy wars chronicles are worthy reads, if for anything, by their passion. I'll relate it to sports. I'd much rather read the work of a journalist whose mind is in constant motion, has opinions and biases, and pours herself into her copy, than one who is just coloring by numbers.

Passion elicits passion. It brings it all to the forefront, and it isn't often pretty, as we've seen. But it also spurs discourse, and our ability to respond with our own passionate retort.

Ultimately, these mommy wars are like a political campaign, though. You'll see and hear opinions from both sides. Informative posts, some attacks. But you'll have to step into that voting booth alone - which is like your parenting booth, really.

When all is said and done, no matter the influence from our families or message boards or the media, we made those parenting decisions based on what feels right to us. No matter what our friends, families, or any flamers online have to say about it.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEli@coachdaddy

Riiiiight and the holocaust was a good thing because of what we learned both as a society and medically (I hope my dripping sarcasm came across clearly here).

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJo

Godwin is always right.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Comparing internet message boards to the Holocaust? Congratulations, you win the Internet today.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

It's so sad and unfortunate that there are these "wars" between women. We all do things a little different - what works for one, doesn't necessarily work for another. As women, we should be supporting each other, not tearing each other apart.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal Ponti

I can say this type of "discussion" has in a lot of ways effected how I parent - in a positive way. Prior to experiencing these flame wars, I had no clue about extended-rear-facing, being able to exclusively pump if nursing didn't work out, attachment parenting, and a whole slew of other things. While I do not believe that discussing anything in this manner is constructive, it does often raise interesting points I may not have considered.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNina

[...] Mommy wars can be good for [...]

These discussions are how I found your website! CIO is the norm with at least the more vocal half of my mothers' group and it has gotten to the point where I don't feel like I can say how I'm feeling (if tired) without a lecture. I hadn't consciously taken a position on the sleep debate but knew in my gut/heart that it wasn't the right thing for my lo. After the first 6-9 months some of the CIO advocates dropped the platitudes ('whatever works for your family', 'every baby is different') and started to insist that I not only leave her to cry but that "tears are ok, you only go in if they are crying so hysterically they aren't breathing properly". No kidding. It was at this point that I started to look for alternative avenues of support and found this post ... It helped me own my parenting approach as an approach and drop the platitudes, at least to myself.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCate

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