Why do parents get anxious about what other parents around them are doing though? What feelings does it raise within parents on hearing about the choices if others that creates a defensive or critical response?
Here is a frank & honest post about parenting choices by Amy Serotkin in her blog Mindful Home, exploring the minefield of making choices & noticing the responses of others;
“…..some perceived our parenting choices as a commentary on their own. Anything that we did differently was obviously an affront to the way they did things.”
Here is another well written piece about Mommy Wars by Catherine Connors;
She comments that parents get drawn towards a way if thinking that there is a right way of doing things, which exacerbated this defensive stance when presented with something alternative.
“there are right ways and wrong ways, good choices and bad choices, and that a simple affirmation of choice qua choice is not enough to allow us to identify the good and avoid the bad”
I sometimes get really excited about things. I am quite calm day to day but I love talking about things I am passionate about & having a healthy debate. I’ve reflected in the past whether I’ve ever implied my way was the only way when talking about things which are important to me.
In our community the majority of parents who we seem to be drawn to do things differently though. Despite the ongoing debate about what we are trying, doing, choosing; there is a sense of oneness born from tolerance.
I overheard someone saying about a well experienced & established Steiner Momma ‘whatever you say to xxx it will be wrong…’
So these wars do happen in this community even though the things that are valued or held dear to parents which affirm the right way are different to what I have experienced before.
And that’s why I started writing this blog. Because to accept we are starting from a place of nativity in our ‘newness’ is liberating.
For example, the hot topics / extreme poles of choice where I used to live which seemed to be triggers for this defensive mechanism were things like; homebirth or hospital birth, natural birth or planned c-section, co-sleep/bedshare or sleep separately, cry it out or attachment parenting, stroller or baby wearer, mothercare baby carrier or eco sling, breastfeed or formula feed, feeding on demand or scheduled feeding, return to work or stay at home, childcare or no childcare, childminder or nursery, state funded nursery or private Montessori nursery…. the list goes on (and on!)
However in our new community I have seen a version of this but in different topics.
For example, I set up and ran a breastfeeding cafe & support group and sling lending library for two years after my daughter was born. I would bring books and resources, nursing necklaces, breastfeeding pillows, a friend brought asking cloth nappies, we had comfy chairs and private spaces, Mums would request a moment alone to confide what it was they most needed support with.
But I’m not so sure that the need for something similar here actually exists. All the babes we have met are breastfed. My hypothesis is that if women are surrounded by other women the transition from primip to parent is made a much more natural process.
It reminds me of hearing the author if Spiritual Midwifery, Ina May Gaskin, speaking at an event. Hearing about The Farm and how mothers supported mothers, really stayed with me.
Although my new community is not a commune or a shared housing project, the feeling that we are nurturing one another is prevalent, and I like it.
Mums who may see each other up to three times a day depending on school runs & ages of their children are seen hugging and greeting one another time and time again, exchanging affirmations and getting snippets of support and offloading before moving on with the morning or afternoon which stretches out infront of us.
On seeing a child bang his head quite badly recently in the grounds of the school, to see how the Mum holding the child, was ‘held’ by her peers was touching. Several parents knelt down to be with her, others left in search of arnica, those stood further away enquired later if the child was okay, and if the Mum was ok, exchanging more hugs and the odd meaningful squeeze of the shoulder.
I attended a World Oneness Day meditation session this week, I like the idea of seeing us all as one, in a conscious effort to attract positive people and energy.
This school has been doing that for some time. Despite only having been an academy for five years the school itself was running for many years, and is a well established site of learning and community spirit.
Initially the main building was a barn, and there were only a few children, some of whom are now parents who send their children there. It has now been lovingly and beautifully restored and is the heart of the school, nestled next to the village church and surrounded by outdoor classrooms & gorgeous gypsy caravans.
There is a wide ranging spectrum of parents, a melting pot of families, some who are more ‘Steiner’ than others.
Kindergarten teachers support parents by suggesting various ideas from a principles of Steiner Warldorf perspective. Each class is seen as having characteristics both as a group and as a collection of individuals. The narrative of noticing traits & watching relationships develops as the term rolls by.
For example our daughters class is made up of about eighteen boys and eight girls. I wondered how this would pan out for the group as a whole; would the girls feel the need to stick together, would the environment be top-heavy to teach as a result?
It is half term now. What has emerged is that the group have gelled quickly, they are able to act as a collective generously, leaving no one out & initiating group games unprompted or with little guidance required. Most children have moved desk partners at least once. Our daughter is sitting next to her third desk partner. Careful thought goes into the personality & needs of the pairs in the classroom & the position of their desks (which row, how far back/close to the front of the class room).
Watching our children embrace each other is a gift. I am so grateful for the opportunity our girl has had in having a place here from age six to sixteen.
Valuing each child for who they are, and allowing them to do the things that they enjoy is essential. In this sense I’ve seen that any competition is less obvious than the two previous school environments we have explored.
So Mommy Wars …… well just to throw a spanner in the works here is a passionate & thought provoking piece by Tracy G. Cassells called ‘Why Ending the Mommy Wars is Misguided & Dangerous‘.