OK, so I am probably going to get a lot of flack for writing this, but it’s been heavy on my mind and I don’t want to hold back anymore. So many things we are not supposed to say in an attempt to keep some level of peace and order, but I am of the opinion that in many cases keeping quiet does more harm than good. Here it goes.
As many of you know, I am a mom. Naturally, as a mom I somehow end up in a lot of mommy groups online. Truth be told, it is usually really hard for me to read so many of the posts in these groups. You see, an online mommy group is basically where a bunch of moms go to ask a million questions (“is this dot on my daughter’s toe normal?”), trade baby goods and complain about their husbands.
There is something that I often see in said groups that I have to speak up about, and this doesn’t happen only in these groups but in life as well, and I just can’t take it any longer.
It sounds something like,
“Don’t be so judgmental,” or “let people parent how they want to parent.”
Let me be clear. Yes, on some level too much judgment or concern about how someone else is doing something is only going to drive you crazy, and yes I drive myself crazy at times. There are absolutely certain things that parents should have the right to choose how and when and where they do XY and Z with their child. Absolutely. Then there are some things that are straight up not OK, and telling people not to judge is a way that one doesn’t have to inquire about the harm they are potentially causing. Instead, we have gotten to a place where we can pull out the, “mommy wars” card at anyone who is telling us that what we are doing to our children is not in the child’s best interest. Another very popular response is,
“What works for some people/families/babies doesn’t work for everyone’s.”
Again, yes, at times this is true. Some babies like being swaddled, some do not, etc.
Then, there are some things where biologically speaking, as humans, we are not that different. In the cases of how our brains are affected by trauma and abuse, we are not that different. In terms of our biological requirements as human beings, we are not that different. What we often times mean by, “this is what works for our family,” translates to is, “this is what works for me.” What is most convenient for parents isn’t always what is best for baby.
So where is the line? Where then, can we step in and say, “Hey, I am actually looking out for your child.” When can we stop making it about us and how our feelings might get hurt if someone points out something we are doing that could be causing harm?
What if I decided to give my daughter labiaplasty? Hey, I like the way it looks, and I read an article somewhere that it’ll help keep her vagina cleaner. Don’t judge me.
Oh, and when I don’t like how my partner is acting I just get out the belt and whop him on the ass. Put him in a corner to cry. Hey, he deserved it. He’s MY partner and I’ll deal with him however I want.
You get the point.
Some of the things we do to our children-our BABIES- we would never dream of doing to others. Do you judge child abusers? Rapists? Sexual predators? I hope you do. Judging these types of people is what gives us the discernment to say, “Hey, this is NOT right.” I am not comparing parents to rapists. I am saying that there is a certain type of judgment that is good, in my opinion.
What if I told you-and this is where I am going to catch some flack- that some of our parental “choices” and “rights” are merely socially acceptable forms of child abuse, neglect, and sexual assault.
There. I said it.
Judging other parents for their decisions to modify their child’s body, leave their baby alone to cry in a dark room until they are vomiting (or any form of cry-it-out), and using physical force as a form of punishment is not me being sanctimonious or perpetuating “mommy wars” anymore than judging and calling out a rapist is being a cock block.
We judge these behaviors so that we can make better decisions so that we can have a better life for ourselves and our children and ultimately, humanity.
Judging human behavior is natural and a way that our internal alarm system goes off when universal law is being abandoned.
“Asking someone not to judge is one of the most unnatural things you could ask. What you’re essentially asking the person to do is to act brain-dead and abandon their natural human faculties, which is itself unnatural as long as the person is alive.”
As parents it is our job to question common practices and evaluate if we are carrying them out because it’s a pattern and it is what was done to us or if it’s because it works and actually feels good to do it. The problem with so many of these issues I am talking about is that it is rare that people are consciously choosing them. They were mostly chosen for them by society and are passed down quackery.
” If you don’t know your options then you don’t have any,” and therefore you are not acting from a place of choice, you are acting on autopilot and acting from that place does not give you freedom to choose. You are not choosing. You are a prisoner of “tradition” in a sense.
To not question these harmful and trauma inducing parenting practices that have caught wind in our culture is to perpetuate intellectual dronery (if that wasn’t a word before, it is now).
We have to stop assuming that common practices are okay simply because they are common. Many of them are only common in our country, on our side of the imaginary lines. Do you realize that things we think are acceptable and normal here are BANNED in other countries? Can we stop justifying common practices simply because they are common? Can we think past the fact that some things are widespread and actually question the nature of them? In reality there is no difference in mutilating a boy’s genitals than there is a girl’s. There is no difference in piercing a baby’s nose than her ears. There is no difference in hitting your spouse than there is in hitting your child. There is no difference in threatening and isolating an upset child than there is in isolating and threatening an upset girlfriend, except maybe your girlfriend has the brain capacity to self-soothe and regulate herself, unlike a small child. Something we can only learn as adults if we were made to feel secure and attached as infants.
So go ahead. Call me judgmental and sanctimonious. You can claim that I “must be so perfect compared to all the horrible moms out there.” I am not perfect. I mess up. I get frustrated and I have felt overwhelmed. This isn’t about being perfect. Being a parent who inquires about their decisions doesn’t make you perfect or better, it just makes you responsible. Thinking and using methods and formulas (not the food kind) on our children only detaches us from feeling them in every situation. They’re not spreadsheets. They are thinking, feeling, needing beings. The only “war” on moms are the ones created by “experts” and other people who tell mothers to go against their natural instincts and cause harm to their babies. We are so concerned about the feelings and “rights” of the mother that we keep our mouths shut and “support” her no matter what. I will tell you, I don’t always support a decision just because it was made by a fellow mother. What about a child’s right to health, optimal development and bodily autonomy? What about how a baby feels when he is left alone in a room for 12 hours? We would be appalled if someone left a baby alone in a dark closet alone from 6am to 6pm. But a dark room alone from 6pm to 6am? Totally fine, but why? Their needs don’t go away at night.
I am not anti-mom. I am a huge proponent in needing more support for mothers. The lack of it is devastating and in large part to blame for the bad decision making I am talking about. It is not totally our fault.
I am pro-child. Children deserve to be treated and cared for the way I believe nature and the universe intended. This doesn’t mean making sure they don’t ever cry or protecting them from all pain and failure. It means not inflicting it upon them intentionally and unnecessarily. It means being willing to look at all of our actions to see if that is what we are doing. Children are not sub-human.
“Children are not property, they are people; precious individuals worthy of love, respect, and protection. Listen when they speak. Comfort them when they cry. Treat them kindly. Teach them devotedly. Correct them compassionately. Love them unconditionally.
If we want the world to be a better place, we should start by being better to children.”