The Mommy Wars are unending. Everywhere we turn, mothers are griping at one another, often in incredibly vicious ways. In my four years as a mom and a freelance writer, I have experienced every manner of harsh criticism from readers, family members, and even friends. At least a handful of readers have gone so far as to say that I don't deserve to be a mother.
Early in my life as a mommy, I believed that I had parenting all figured out, but I now know better. Looking on the last four years with hindsight of 20/20, I feel shocked, frustrated, and disturbed by the amount of dirt that we moms tend to sling at each other. There are some situations that mothers should never be criticized or attacked for. Here are a few of them.
1. Don't judge moms' medical decisions for their kids. A mother once accused me of abuse for vaccinating my child. Another accused a non-vaccinating parent of the same thing. I have also heard mothers harshly judge one another for the use of complementary alternative medicine, the induction of post-term labor, and the use of doctor-approved alternative treatments for incurable medical conditions. Although I may disagree strongly with some moms' medical choices, I ultimately realize that we all have different experiences, different health care providers, and different children -- and that one child's needs may be very different from another's. This is one point that moms need to stop attacking each other about.
2. Never criticize moms living in poverty. As someone who has survived the darkest side of poverty in America, I feel disgusted and sick when I hear moms criticizing those living in poverty. You don't know the story of the "welfare mom" with three kids. She could have been fairly stable until the death of her husband. She could be a survivor of domestic abuse. And even if she has simply made bad life decisions, your judgment won't undo them. Impoverished mothers need sympathy and respect, not ridicule.
3. Stop playing 'greener than thou.'I'm that crazy environmentalist mom who used cloth diapers, feeds her kid organic food, brings bags to the store, and recycles. While I think it would be great if all other parents made the same choices, I'm sick of seeing the competition of green living between other moms. There are moms who don't have the financial means to buy organic, moms who are physically unable to breastfeed, moms who live in areas without recycling, and moms who don't have washing machines to launder cloth diapers. It's unfair to judge moms for not being pristine examples of Mrs. Green, since you never know what circumstances might contribute to a parents' lifestyle decisions.
4. The working mom vs. stay-at-home-mom wars need to stop now. All right moms: let's call a truce. Working moms are not better than stay-at-home moms. Stay-at-home-moms are not better than work-at-home moms. A parent's choice to work at home, away from home, or as a full-time parent is not anyone else's business. Your finances aren't a judgment of how good of a parent you are. The cleanliness of your oven, the number of hot breakfasts you serve, and the amount of time you spend working with your child in your lap are completely irrelevant as measures of your parenting ability. A child needs love -- not a working mom, not a stay-at-home mom, and not any other iteration of hard-working parent.
5. A mom's relationship status has nothing to do with her parenting ability. Single moms aren't the pathetic dregs of society; many are wholly competent parents who dedicate a lot of love, attention and affection to their kids. Moms who date are also not harming their kids; they're taking care of themselves -- and, by proxy, their children. And of course it's appalling to judge any parent based on her orientation, including for being in a same-sex relationship. Whom a mother loves -- along with, and in addition to her children -- has no bearing on her quality of parenthood.
Related Work by Juniper Russo