Why was I justifying a carefully-considered decision that my partner and I had made?
I'm a first-time mother and I've found that I can't go out with my son without somebody giving me advice on how to raise him. There seems to be an general assumption that new parents have no idea about children, and it is everybody's duty to share their "wisdom".
I was chatting to some other mothers recently about breastfeeding and mentioned that my partner and I are in the process of weaning our five-week-old son onto formula. Oh the horror!
I explained that I am often ill and require antibiotics, and that I felt terrible that Little C had picked up thrush as a result of breastfeeding. I was told that formula was worse than thrush and I should keep breastfeeding anyway.
I explained that I am going in for major surgery soon and we have decided that it was better to wean him now than to suddenly switch him later, and was told I should keep breastfeeding anyway.
So I started to explain that I had concerns about… and then I stopped. Why was I justifying a carefully-considered decision that my partner and I had made? And why did I feel obliged to justify our decision to a stranger?
I think it's because new parents quickly learn that other parents can be quite pushy with their views on child-rearing, and that many experienced parents feel that it is their duty to "educate" others on the "right" way to raise their child...
Breastfeeding vs formula.
Scheduled feeds vs demand feeding.
Comforting vs controlled crying.
Dummies vs self-soothing.
You name your decision and there will always be someone who will criticise you for it. There will always be someone who believes they know better than you on what is best for your child. There will even be that person who claims that you are abusing your child because of your choices.
Just remember, they’re not the ones sitting up with your child in the middle of the night. They’re not the ones who know your child's quirks and preferences and history, and they're not the ones who are familiar with your circumstances.
You don't have to justify your childrearing choices. If your child is happy and healthy, if your child is putting on weight and hitting those milestones, if your child is on the way to reaching their potential, then you are doing fine.
I want hours upon hours of delicious sleep followed by hot cups of tea, reading my book and nothingness. But I'll have to get up now to comfort, feed, clean, dress, entertain, love, laugh, play, and repeat.
It does seem there are always those who disagree with your choices/decisions in regards to bringing up a child. And they will tell you why you are wrong. The good news is there are others who will agree with your choices and if you are lucky they may even tell you so and provide much needed support. At the end of the day, though, do the best you can with the resources you have and just enjoy your child. Try not to let it worry you what others think even though that is much easier said than done.