I've had lots of experience with people saying unsolicited but well-meaning comments about the choices I'm making for my daughter. An offhand remark about how a pacifier made their child stop latching correctly, so I should be careful about giving my daughter a pacifier. Asking whether or not I do enough tummy time after seeing that my daughter can't hold her head up for very long yet. And LOTS of opinions about whether or not I should work outside of the home.
Usually, I don't mind these well-meaning comments. I know people are genuinely trying to help. In fact, when it's family or a close friend, I'm always seeking their advice and opinions.
But this time was different. It had already been a pretty long and hard day. I was in Costco, putting some baby formula into my cart.
"You know what they say, breast is best," I heard. I looked up to find a man standing across the aisle by the paper towels. I give him a half-smile and turned back to the formula.
"But really," he said. "When you breastfeed your baby, it gives them immunizations."
"Hmm," I said.
"Babies can't get those immunizations from formula. If you're not exclusively breast feeding your baby, he's not getting the best start."
At this point, I was mad. So I mumbled something even I couldn't understand, put the formula in the cart, and wheeled away as fast as I could. Of course, when I played it back in my head, I imagined myself throwing a can of formula at his head and shouting "Why don't you parent your own children and I'll parent mine, thankyouverymuch. Oh, and it's immunity. Breastmilk doesn't give your child immunizations, it gives them immunity. There's a difference!"
Someone needs to invent a rewind button on life, so when people think of these great comebacks hours later, they can rewind and play them out in real life ;)
Here's the thing. I'm not the first mom that's been told she's doing it wrong, and I'm sure I won't be the last. And I don't think that man woke up that morning and thought "if I see a new mom at Costco, I'll be sure to belittle her parenting choices." But still, it happens. And it bothered me for the rest of the day.
I'm a big believer that there's no one right way to raise a child. Talk to any mom with multiple children, and she'll tell you that each of her children had vastly different needs. I'm part of a few mom support groups on Facebook, where mothers can ask questions and get advice from other moms. A few weeks ago, one mom asked a question about circumcision, and I was really surprised at all the terribly negative, judgmental, and accusatory comments that stemmed from it. Why do we as human beings feel the need to judge other people so harshly? If circumcision is right for your child, do it. If it's not right for your child, don't do it. But please don't think that you have the answers for someone else's child.
My baby takes formula in bottles, because that's what's right for her and I. My baby takes a pacifier. My baby gets immunizations. My baby sleeps in her own crib. Those are all choices that are right for my baby. If your baby is the total opposite - exclusively breast fed, no pacifier, co-sleeps, that's great too!
I loved this article on stopping the mommy wars. Seriously, read it. I love the pictures.
How do you deal with unwelcome and unwanted criticism? About anything - not just being a parent. Should I have been more brave and told him that formula is a good choice for my baby? Or was it best to just walk away? I would love to hear your opinions.
In the meantime - happy weekend!