Chanelmama blogger Ouiam Charkani El Hassani on standing your mummy ground.
Many women nowadays choose to parent differently than the way they were parented. Many new mothers feel separated and detached from the community they live in. It gets even harder when their own families and friends do not understand or perceive their parenting style, because without the support and the backing of family or friends, the challenging job of caring for our children gets a whole lot tougher.
When you are constantly subject to judgement and harsh comments, because you have chosen to parent the way you think is right – with respect, dignity and love – it sometimes can make you feel lonely or can even make you doubt yourself and your inner wisdom as a mother. Most families (or even friends) tend to give their own opinions about how they think you should do things: breastfeeding or bottle feeding, to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, school or home-school, to punish or to connect and every other thing on the list. This is most definitely coming from a space of love and care, yet, as parents, this might leave us feeling uncomfortable, judged and definitely not at ease. It can make us doubt our strong instincts as parents. So many parents facing this kind of ordeal find themselves with a dilemma, between pleasing the community they live in – their own village of support and love – or parenting exactly how they see fit, even if other people, no matter how close they may be, feel they are wrong.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. When you become a mother, you are the one in charge of this innocent, little human being. So your job for the first few weeks/months is to find the best way to adapt to your new role, then, from there, to figure out what works best for your family and household. This might not suit everyone else, but that shouldn’t matter, as long as you and your family are happy
While trying to ‘mother’ the way you feel right, you can also ease yourself and your parenting style into the world. Slowly yet surely you can conquer both worlds – the one where you are the person making the decisions and the one where your community and loved ones give you the space and support you need, on your own terms.
First of all, you need to trust your parenting style. When we are constantly being judged for the way we parent, it is normal that we start to worry. The well-known question:
“Am I good enough as a parent?” will start to arise. The first thing we should start with is to become knowledgeable. The more we know, the more confident we can be about our choices.
What goes hand in hand with this is to get a new ‘village’. You don’t need to ditch your family, but it is very important to look for parents who embrace the same philosophies as you, when it comes to child rearing.
Talking about the things that worry you can also be very beneficial. Choose someone you trust, your partner for example, and verbalise your worries and fears. It’s a great way to feel more comfortable and at ease and is a great source of support and love.
Another thing that might help greatly is to start noticing your own automatic reactions whenever a member of the family or a friend throws in a comment not in favour of your parenting style. See what happens to you. Do you get defensive? Do you keep quiet? Do you leave the room? Do you actually listen? Sometimes we get way too defensive and we might miss a good point. If you listen, instead of jumping into a response, you might change the way you deal with the whole situation.
Regular listening time can be a powerful way to shift our knee-jerk reactions and figure out new ways to respond in the face of judgement.
Trying to persuade those around you to convert to your parenting style is usually pointless. Trying to prove you are right (and they are wrong) seldom works. Finding the common ground is always the best solution. Simply pointing out how much you both love your kids, how you both want the kids to do well in life, or how much you want to enjoy their company, is something that can help bridge the gap with those around you and can make everyone content and focused on what matters the most.