When you become a mother, you step into this new world you never knew existed. Women come out of the woodwork to congratulate you, offer words of encouragement, and welcome you to the club. It’s exhilarating and terrifying all at once.
You begin to embrace this beautiful chapter of life and then it hits like a brick wall: The negativity. The snarky comments. And plenty of unsolicited advice from strangers. Maybe they comment on your belly size, or maybe they linger near you at the grocery store bombarding you with questions that are frankly nobody’s business. Maybe it’s the women in your life you adore the most bringing you down with their words.
Everyone has a say in how you raise your child, but there is one party that is guilty more than most: The generation of moms before us. So many are failing us by belittling us with their words.
I am unsettled by the amount of my friends that feel unsupported by fellow women, whether it’s their own mothers, mother-in-laws, aunts or even friends. Not a day passes where I don’t see a fellow parent asking for advice on how to handle the negative comments, and it breaks my heart. I get that generational differences may weigh heavily on topics like breast vs. bottle or working vs. staying home. But it’s also much bigger than this.
Rarely does a day go by when I don’t hear some form of the sentiment “I’m glad I’m not raising my children in this generation.” Like we are raising our little humans in this dangerous and awful world, devoid of light and happiness.
How do you even respond to that comment? I get that parenting in the Internet generation is a challenge, but it’s not all doom and gloom. We are also more sensitive and tolerant — things I believe to be strengths — thanks to viral Internet posts that open our eyes to the love and hate in the world.
Then there’s the “kids just need more discipline,” line we hear, or the memes saying things like “We didn’t have ADHD in our day — we spanked and they listened.” Those words sting as we struggle to gain composure of our child throwing a tantrum because he didn’t get the candy he wants in the check-out lane. For all you know, that child may be on the Autism Spectrum, an invisible disorder you know nothing about, and they are mid-meltdown.
Didn’t you ever have a child break down in public? Can you please, for one second, recall these days filled with long days and nights? Take yourself back and remember how difficult it can be.
We get you may be annoyed with society’s new standards for raising healthy kids. Shoot, sometimes we are too! Yes, little Johnny has to rear face in his carseat, and no, he can’t wear a thick winter coat. No, you cannot make treats with peanut butter to bring to school. This route has been chosen because we’ve read the statistics and know that no child’s life is worth risking because of decisions you felt like making.
Stop the nasty comments. Stop the judgy stares. They hurt and belittle mothers, and do nothing to help the situation. Instead, try asking “How can I help you?” Even if the mother doesn’t take you up on your offer to help, she will feel relived to not feel judged. Let’s lift each other up, not bring each other down.
We need support from the older and wiser mothers and grandmothers of the world. We need your wisdom as we tread these uncharted waters. We need you to listen when we ask you to follow the new rules backed by science and respect our choices.
Those of you getting misty-eyed and saying “I miss those days,” and “Enjoy every moment,” — keep those comments coming. They give us hope, and that’s exactly what new parents need to hear while amidst the chaos.
The sun may have set on raising your children, but our sun is just rising. You learned on your own and now it’s our turn to have a crack at parenthood. Trust we can do it and blaze our own trail along the way.
Do you have a great comeback to the negative remarks that come along with being a parent? Please share in the comments!