Last week’s post generated a great deal of feedback, which is so great. I think that it’s important for us as moms to dialogue about this topic as much as possible, so we can begin to be more aware of and sensitive of others.
So, how can we remain passionate about our decisions while offering support to other moms with differing views?
This is the part that is tricky. For example, I am sure that the well-meaning mother I met at the park has researched natural birth in-depth, and she probably can explain to me why natural birth is BETTER. And because her knowledge of that is so deep, she felt compelled to educate me. But here is the problem with that: what GOOD is that doing for me, the listener? I think that there became a point in our conversation when she became less concerned with me, her listener, and she became more concerned with standing on her soapbox.
I do think that it is possible to remain excited and firm in our decisions while being encouraging and uplifting to those with different choices. Here’s how:
- Tread lightly. I think that the best way to avoid conflict is to not bring up controversial issues. It’s one thing to homeschool your children. It’s another thing to, while having a latte with your best friends (whose children all go to public school), bring up the latest research supporting why homeschooling is better than public schooling (I’m not saying that it is, or even that said research exists…I’m just being hypothetical here, ladies). Also, maybe while hanging out with a friend who stays home with her children, a good question to avoid would be, “So what do you do all day?”
- Have empathy. Breastfeeding has always come easily to me. My children latched on well and I had plenty of milk. One of my dear friends, however, could not produce any milk. She desperately wanted to breastfeed her baby, but after weeks of trying, she finally gave up and fed him formula…which he gobbled right up! This was so hard for her because she wanted to be his source of comfort and nutrition. As her friend, I knew that she was personally struggling with this so much. So I did my best to avoid nursing in front of her, I almost never brought the subject up, and I frequently checked in on her to see how things were going. I know this friend well, and I know that she would never want me to feel like I was walking on eggshells around her, and I absolutely was not doing that. What I was doing was just being a little sensitive to the fact that this may not be a topic that she would want to discuss much, especially during or immediately after her struggle.
- Consider what is beneficial to others. Quite frankly, this is difficult for most of us to grasp. I think that many of us like to talk about what is important to us without considering the well-being of others. We must, however, ask ourselves, “Is what I am about to say going to benefit the person with whom I am talking?” Is she going to walk away feeling supported, respected, and encouraged? Or is she going to feel belittled or judged?
I understand that many of us are opinionated. I think that having opinions, especially those that are different from the moms around us, is a great thing. We should each have things that we care deeply about. My concern is that sometimes, our desire to express our opinions clouds our judgment regarding whether or not we should open our mouths. Krista, one of our blog contributors, wrote the following comment on my previous post about this topic: “I think the problem begins when we see ourselves as an “advocate” to a certain decision. I make my personal decisions, but I am an advocate for ALL moms.”
Let’s ALL be advocates for all moms.
(The image we posted was not our own idea. We were inspired by this amazing project and hope you are as well.)