Inside: Conflicting parenting styles that challenge friendships.
When you become a mom, your world turns upside down. Not only do you and your husband have to figure out how to take care of your new peanut all by yourselves, all of the sudden you are faced with all the motherhood decisions you may or may not have been prepared to make.
You may ask your own mom for her opinion, you may ask another seasoned mom for hers, and then you do research. So, so much research. You weigh the pros and the cons of each choice, and ultimately, you make your own educated decision.
But lo and behold, after you’ve put so much work into deciding, fellow moms disagree with you. They tell you why your decision is the wrong one and which decision you should have made instead. When different parenting styles cause friendship problems, motherhood all of the sudden starts feeling like a war zone.
I was sitting on a park bench, watching my husband as he chased after our one-year-old twins, helping them climb up the playground stairs and go down the slide. I stretched my tired legs and leaned back into the bench, hoping for the tension in my back to loosen up a bit.
I rubbed my belly and tried to coerce the little babe inside to move away from my bladder and find another pillow to lean into. I tickled him until he moved. He flipped over and pushed his foot against my rib. I changed my position in hopes to get him to move again.
“How’s the baby?” I heard a woman’s voice. I looked up to see another mom standing next to the bench. We’ve crossed paths at the same park before, and had a couple of small talk conversations. “Oh hey, he’s very active,” I laughed. “How long do you have left?” she asked, looking at my belly. I told her the date my son was to be born.
“Oh, really?” She sounded surprised, “You sound so sure of the date,” she added. “It’s scheduled,” I answered, not thinking much of it. “Ohh.” I could hear the disappointment in her voice. I sat there, looking at my little family playing together.
“Why did you have to have it scheduled?” She asked, “Are you being induced?” “No, I’m having a c-section.” She turned quiet, but only for a few seconds. She couldn’t help herself. “But why would you have a c-section? Don’t you want to experience a natural birth?”
The truth was, I did. I wanted to feel what it’s like to have a natural delivery. I went through labor with our twins only to find out that one of them could not be delivered vaginally and I had to have an unplanned c-section.
I was pregnant with our third miracle baby when the twins were 6 months old, and my doctor strongly suggested another c-section. The two pregnancies were very close together, and my body hasn’t had time to heal enough to endure labor.
“It’s too risky to have a vaginal birth so soon after a c-section,” I told the mom who was now sitting next to me, looking intensely at my face. “Having a c-section is what’s risky,” she said. “Why don’t you just try to have a natural birth? I know of at least two moms who had a successful VBAC,” she added.
I knew of at least two moms who tried, only to have emergency c-sections. After lots of research and conversations with my husband, our choice had been made. We weighed our options and ultimately decided that it was best for our family to do what the doctor recommended.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s been made”, I answered her. I could tell she was a bit antsy. She looked like she was searching for more words to say. I never had the chance to hear them. One of my twins tumbled down the slide and I got up to check on him.
A few minutes later I waved good-bye to the mom sitting on the bench as we were leaving the park.
I couldn’t help but feel a bit pressured that day. And I wanted to never make another mom feel this way.
Moms may never agree on everything
Often, mothers disagree on every aspect of motherhood.
- Home birth vs. hospital birth
- Breastmilk vs. formula
- Cloth vs. disposable diapers
- Natural remedies vs. traditional medicine
- Feeding baby on demand vs. putting her on a schedule
- Going back to work vs. staying home
- Co-sleeping vs. sleep training
- Sending kids to pre-school vs. keeping them at home as long as possible
- Organic produce vs. whatever’s on sale
- Helicopter vs. free-range parenting
- Leaving baby boys intact vs. not
- Homeschooling vs. unschooling vs. sending kids to traditional schools
- Home lunch vs. school lunch
We disagree on attachment parenting, time outs, consequences, screen time, and so much more. And often, we make our opinions known. What we sometimes don’t notice until it’s too late, is we’re hurting our friendships.
We become so engulfed with defending our motherhood choices that we lose friends over it. Tensions start building simply because we disagree.
When a mom makes her choice, she’s making it for her own family. Every mom is capable to make the decisions she needs to make in order for her family to thrive. Her choice may not be right for another family, but it’s right for her own.
It’s nice to find and associate with like-minded moms who are making similar choices, but it’s not worth losing friends over a difference of opinion.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should bite our tongues and not share opinions. But we cross the line when we push our opinions on fellow moms with different parenting styles. When we tell them that the choice we made for our family is the best one out there and they should follow suit, we’re not being a very good friend.
Let’s keep our friends
When different parenting styles cause friendship problems, instead of focusing on convincing fellow moms that the choice we made is the only right choice, let’s respect each other’s differing opinions. Let’s focus on helping our kids grow up to be good people. Let’s keep friendships and support each other. Let’s not lose friends over differences in parenting styles. Let’s do motherhood together.