What’s one of the first things you do when your kids hit an important milestone? If you’re anything like me, you post it on social media.
One of the best parts about having kids is watching them grow, and there is no span of time that sees as much rapid progress as the first year of life. From the time they start grabbing things to rolling over to taking their first steps, kids are maturing at warp speed and social media allows us to document these milestones and celebrate them with our friends and family members on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Well, it SHOULD be a celebration, but that’s not always the case. Mainly because a lot of parents are judgmental, sanctimonious pricks.
Sam is a HUGE baby. He’s 3.5 months old and creeping up toward the 20 lb mark. With the exception of a couple of bottles of formula, MJ has been exclusively breastfeeding him the entire time. The only problem is, it hasn’t been enough lately because her supply isn’t keeping up with his overwhelming demands.
At the same time, Sam is displaying a lot of signs that he wants to eat. He’s reaching for our food at dinner, opening his mouth and chewing when food is close to him, and drooling up a storm when we eat in his vicinity. Also, he’s had some pretty nasty gas lately even though MJ has altered her diet to remove almost all dairy in an attempt to make him more comfortable.
So we decided to mix a little rice cereal in with his breast milk and spoon feed it to him. And he LOVED it! Seriously, he ravenously devoured it. He didn’t spit up or have an ounce of trouble with the spoon — it was a completely seamless transition. And with Sam finally feeling full, he’s also less gassy and sleeping better to boot.
Sounds pretty positive and great, right? Yet the first thing MJ said to me was “Don’t put the rice cereal thing on Facebook. Everyone will get on their soap boxes and talk about how bad it is for him and I don’t want to deal with that.” (I’ve since secured her permission for this post)
And she’s absolutely right. Because, unfortunately, too many parents are judgmental assholes.
We know the AAP recommends breast milk only until at least six months. We are not idiots and we do a lot of research. But Sam is gargantuan and he wasn’t getting enough breast milk even in the bottle, so we’re supplementing once a day with some rice cereal. It’s not massacring his digestive system and we’re not poisoning him as the La Leche zealots would have people believe. We’re doing what’s right for our baby.
Yet there are some holier than thou parents who simply cannot wait to jump up on their soap boxes and happily tell you all of the things you’re doing wrong. And that sucks.
It comes in all forms too. Some people just launch right into an attack on how harmful this is and what an irresponsible parent you are for engaging in it. Others aren’t quite as blunt, masking their obvious contempt behind link after link after link to studies (often with highly questionable sources) that support their way of thinking. And the rest of the criticism comes via passive-aggressive bullshit like “Wow. Seems early for rice cereal. We plan on breastfeeding exclusively for the first year and then introducing homemade, all-organic wheatgrass tofu that’s been blessed by the Dalai Lama. Because, you know, we care about the health of our child.”
It doesn’t matter whether it’s breastfeeding vs. formula, rear facing vs. front facing, circumcision vs. intact, spanking vs. no spanking, or attachment parenting vs. cry it out — the bullshit is always the same, always unnecessary, and perpetually obnoxious.
Parenting is hard and no one gives you a manual. Hell, even if there was a manual it’d be no good because every kid is different. So can we all do each other a favor and just relax with the judgment and condescension about these topics? You are free to raise your kids however you’d like (within the confines of the law that is), and I urge you to do so. I also hope you’ll have enough respect to leave me the hell alone when my choices differ from your own.
Because they will be different. We all come from different backgrounds with a variety of beliefs and manners of upbringing. That’s a good thing. So it always leaves me scratching my head when some parents just won’t stop telling people they’re wrong. Why is it not enough to raise your kids your way? Why do ALL parents have to be convinced to switch over to your methods? Does it make you feel validated? Do you feel better putting other people down under the guise of “Well I’m just trying to help?”
For instance, did you know there were a whole subset of parents glued to their TVs when William & Kate took their baby home from the hospital, specifically to pounce on whether or not their car seat was properly installed? If that was you, you suck. At everything.
Most parents are already insecure and constantly worrying that we’re not doing a good enough job — they don’t need to have that feeling amped up to 11 by fellow parents on soap boxes. Unless you’re asked specifically for your two cents, I’d urge you to respect other people making perfectly valid and informed choices by SHUTTING THE HELL UP. You can still think you’re right and you can cloak yourself in the warm self-satisfaction of always knowing what’s best for everyone.
Just keep it to yourself.