The mommy wars. When I first came to pregnancy boards and the parenting boards I was very naive. I had vague ideas about how to raise a kid, but I was there to learn and observe. What I quickly learned was that there are widely varying parenting styles and methods and that adherents to different methods could be very vehement in their advocating for the "one true choice."
Hot topics on pregnancy boards include breastfeeding, circumcision, co-sleeping, babywearing, discipline and any number of topics which might seem benign on the surface but turn out to be incendiary for some reason or other. I got a quick education in alternative child-rearing methods. The thing that I always resented though, was that most often a method wasn't just presented for my consideration, with the pros and cons presented for my benefit. The alternative methods were presented in such a way that if I didn't follow them I was ignorant, unloving, unconsiderate of my child's welfare or even, *gasp* an abuser.
Many lovely people would condemn me for having formula fed Emma exclusively from five weeks on, despite the fact that I simply couldn't make breastfeeding work for us and I knew when I went back to work at eight weeks I wouldn't be able to breastfeed. They'd say I didn't try hard enough.
I would be condemned for not sleeping with Emma. I can't tell you the thousands of ways I was told she'll be screwed up because of that. The simple fact for me is that I cannot sleep with someone touching me. Maybe if they snuck up on me after I was sleeping it could work. But I would never fall asleep otherwise. Emma was not a cuddly baby from the start, she was very independent and didn't like to be held close for long periods of time. I thought I was respecting her as an individual. As a working parent I had to do what worked for our family, which was having Emma sleep in her crib and me sleep at all.
I think co-sleeping and breastfeeding and babywearing are all wonderful things if they work for you and your baby. But if you don't do those things I still think you're a good parent.
I guess I got really tired of the implication that if my child wasn't raised a certain specific way that she'd be deficient. She'd be emotionally stunted, aggressive, insecure, or otherwise unfit to mingle with the general public.
If you asked me my parenting style I would characterize it as laid back. I like to let Emma explore and learn her world as much as she can and still be safe. I'm sure I parent much like my parents did, and like the parents I've known growing up. From some of my contemporaries I've learned some ways NOT to parent. But honestly, even when I disagree with something I see another parent do, I still don't think they're abusive or neglectful. Um...unless they really are abusive or neglectful, you know, as defined by Child Protective Services.
I don't miss the mommy wars because I don't miss being second-guessed at every step by people who don't know me, my situation, or my family. The mommy board I frequent now is on a pretty even keel and everyone is generally respectful of everyone else's parenting choices. I don't doubt that if there was ever a hint of real abuse that people wouldn't be all over it. But our group is a self-selected group of mothers who are online and part of this small community because they DO love their children and they do need a place to go for support, information and to just plain brag.
I've given up most of the parenting books too. They were something for when I was pregnant and needed to occupy my mind with dreams and schemes. Now that I'm an actual mom and living it, I don't seem to have any time for books on parenting theory. Every once in a while I feel like I should consult a book to see if Emma's meeting her milestones according to age, but even then I feel like you need to respect the individual child and let them develop at their own pace. The books always make me anxious.
On BIO we came to a point where the motto was "don't label me!" and I feel like that's a fair request. I would advise any new mother to follow her instincts and the good examples around her and make her parenting choices based on what she knows in her heart is right for her and her baby.