Mommy Wars: Why Good Parents Judge Others As Bad

After years of writing about parenting, I no longer take the bait when it comes to mommy wars issues like breastfeeding and home-birthing, co-sleeping and daycare. I still love knowing what other people do. And I'm always open to new ideas about how to relate to or discipline or bring out the best in my kids (without turning them into aimless children who believe in themselves but can't make a decision without my approval).

But when someone warns me (through an anonymous comment is always a favorite) that I'm harming my children when I tell them "no" (or when I don't tell them "no") or in how I feed them or restrict them or what I say about advertising and the media, I'm not offended. Or the least bit concerned.

In fact, it barely registers.

Related: 7 reasons why I'm glad my kids are girls

This could be parenting issues fatigue. But my guess is that I've managed to figure out a way to parent that both suits my values and doesn't force me to be someone that I'm not. I'm comfortable as a mom, as a parent. Even though I've got the teen years ahead of me, I long ago figured out that I'm pretty good at, um, figuring things out. I make what turn out to be mistakes … all the time, even. But my oldest is very forgiving, as are most kids I would guess. As long as my heart is in the right place. As long as I love my kids.

Which is pretty much what a Livescience article on good parenting concludes. There's no such thing as a good parenting strategy. Good parents are ones who have a decent bond with their kids. The rest is just different paths to a similar end - healthy kids.

So what's all the arguing about in these mommy wars. Why do people still bother to criticize mothers (parents) who send their kids to childcare five times a week while others question the motivations of moms who stay home? Or moms who wean their children or nurse their preschoolers? Or send their raging kids to a timeout? Or hug them when frustrated?

Related: The worst places for raising children - do you live in one?

Why is it all so fraught? From Livescience [via Yahoo!]:

Part of the reason may boil down to the American belief in individualism, [Kathleen] Gerson [, a sociologist at New York University,] said. So rather than the "it takes a village" mentality, middle-class Americans tend to believe that individual parenting decisions are the major determinant of how well a child will do in adulthood, she said. That makes even minor choices seem high-stakes.

Parenting becomes a flashpoint for controversy especially in times of rapid change, Gerson said. The last few decades, with more women moving into the work force and more men focusing on their home lives, have been a time of upheaval. In addition, Gerson said, the recession has made middle-class workers more anxious about whether their children will grow up with the same standard of living as they had.

For a psychologist's take on moral judgements, visit Babble.


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