Sunday, August 27, 2006

No More Mommy Wars

I don't like the Mommy Wars. Have you ever fought in one? They aren't fun and ultimately they are not productive. They are fought over many, many issues: breast verses bottle feeding, cloth verses disposable diapers, family bed verses allowing the baby to cry themselves to sleep, home school verses private school verses public school, strict discipline verses more lenient verses the kids discipline themselves, stay at home moms verses those who work outside the home. These wars are fought when each of us feels that our's is the right way and everyone else is doing it wrong :-)

I didn't breast feed my daughters past the first month, they've slept with me over the years (whenever they needed to), I used disposable diapers, I send them to private school and I'm considered a strict disciplinarian. So, do you think I'm a bad mom? Did I do something you didn't and wouldn't do? Are you sitting in judgment of my choices? Were you thinking, "Why in the world wouldn't she breastfeed longer, doesn't she know that breast milk is the best food for a baby?"

Do you know why I made the choices I did? Why am I a strict disciplinarian? Why do I allow my kids to sleep with me? Why do I send them to private school? Why didn't I homeschool? What was my reasoning behind these choices? Was it sound? How would you know? So, how can you judge?

Those who've fought in the Mommy Wars know that they have made a judgment about the actions of another and probably without a clear understanding of why they made that decision. I know that I've done so. I've looked at how others have disciplined their children and have thought that they should be stricter but I'm not the mom of these kids and I'm trying to learn to keep my mouth shut. And especially since I'm on the receiving end of this particular war as well.

I'm strict but fair and I'm not sure others see that. I think I'm viewed as oppressive and it's almost like people think my kids are afraid of me. I discipline my children because I want to teach them self-discipline. I want them to learn to control themselves and a way to do that is to teach them to respect my authority and to obey it. One of my fears is that I will raise children who were as disrespectful and as disobedient as I was. I was sassy (shocking, huh?) and I talked back and I refused to do the things that my parents wanted me to do. I was so unhappy and didn't feel loved and I didn't realize that I was my own worst enemy. I discipline my girls from this knowledge. I don't want them ever to feel like wishing they were dead almost every day of their lives.

So, this leads me to discipline for the two areas that I think are the foundational problem areas for teenagers: disrespect and disobedience, everything else flows from that. Nothing will receive greater punishment in our house than that and not only disrespect of our authority but of each other and others as well. Punishment is usually a loss of privileges, no TV for one and no Internet for the other (each has her own love and I know what it is). Sometimes if I think that I've made my point, I show grace instead of judgment. One of them lost her privileges for two days but I've been thinking that I'll only make it one since I know that she feels bad for being disobedient. That's what I'm looking for -- a contrite heart. I don't want to punish her, I want her to respect me and know why I tell her to do the things she does.

See, I have a reason. I'm not an ogre. Maybe you don't see the need to be strict, that's OK, you don't have to, God didn't give you Sarah and Samantha, He gave them to me (thank you, God). And btw, I don't want to slander my daughters, I don't have to discipline them that much. We are showered with much love and respect. We are blessed and we know it :-) They understand why I do what I do because I've explained it to them and they are in agreement with it. They get this:

Proverbs 10:8 The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 13:1 A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
Each of us has been given our child for a reason. Each of us has what the Lord wants that child to have and the Lord will mold them the way He wants using their experience in our family, both the good and the bad.

I've learned my lesson, I have no idea how you should raise your child, only you know that. I can tell you what works for me but you'll have to keep in mind that YMMV.

So, this is my white flag of surrender. To all those I've fought in the past, I'm sorry. The war is over and I don't want to fight any more. I've become a conscientious objector and I won't return to battle no matter what the temptation. Just call me Switzerland :-)

BTW, I didn't have anyone in mind when I wrote this, it isn't a sneak attack, veiled as a surrender. It's not a Trojan horse :-) It's a cease-fire, this blog is a no battle zone.


  1. Karmyn R said...
    Well said!!! Mothers shouldn't be battling against each other - we should be a united front of support and understanding!
    Robin said...
    Hey Switerland (cute),

    When I first read the words "conscientious objector" I read "contemptuous objector", and I had to do a quick double-take (lol). Wow, this hits home. How often I've sat in judgment and condemnation of others because they didn't "do" things the way I did! It wasn't always direct, sometimes I just had the thoughts of judgment, but I imagine somehow it was communicated.

    I'm an "older" mom now (so are you;) ), so hopefully we've progressed a bit. It definitely sounds like you have. I hope young moms read this and can get an earlier start than I did; it is so freeing NOT to feel the need to be RIGHT...while all the while doing what is right for you and your family, no matter the choices others make.

    I guess the bottom line is the need to be more generous to others, understanding. You nailed it when you pointed out not fully knowing the reasons behind the choices we make.
    michele said...
    Thanks, Robin and Karmyn! I agree with you, Robin that this post is from the perspective of experience and being very far removed from a lot of the wars. Out of the fray and seeing the results of my choices has helped me to see that it really is about individual choice, not about what's right or wrong.
    Cathy said...
    I would also add... no wars between mommies and those that don't have children...

    Great post, Michele.
    michele said...
    Cathy, I agree with you 100% and another one I could have added was the size of the family. That's another issue that women argue over as well.
    Pamela said...
    I thought I posted... and it's gone. poof.

    I just said that having my kids already reared and left the nest I can look back and see the errors I made.

    I see mothers yelling (threatening) their children and then not following through. Thats when I WANT to say something -- like the mother at the grocery store who threatens her kids over and over with a spanking and lets him/her continually run amuk.

    Follow through. Say No. Enforce it.
    Carrie said...
    Good points!

    On as sidenote, I wish more churches would offer biblical parenting classes.
    Moonshadow said...
    this is my white flag of surrender. The war is over and I don't want to fight any more. I've become a conscientious objector ... Just call me Switzerland

    Seeds of pacifism? A fuller pro-life stance? I can only hope.

    Your daughters are angels. It's obvious to me that you & D. take their proper formation seriously and implement consistently.
    michele said...
    No, sorry Moonshadow, no chance this will go any further :-) and thanks for your kind words about my daughters.

    And Carrie I agree with you that it would be great if the church helped the moms and dads with parenting classes. My church has brought in experts a couple times. I benefited from their help.
    Lauren said...
    Agreed, where shall I put my Smith & Wesson?
    Malissa said...
    So true. Sometimes we do not fully know the inside of the home and why choices were made.

    I have made choices that people roll their eyes over;) however, my husband and I answer to God for our choices not anyone else.
    We have to do what we know God called us to do.
    We know God doesn't call everyone to the same choices.
    michele said...
    How about a guns for toys program at you local police station?
    CyberCelt said...
    You are a mom. You do what you think is in the best interests of your children. That is all you can do.

    I breastfeed my child until he was almost six, let him sleep in my room whenever he wanted, put him through private school, then home school with a fellow mom. He wanted to go to public school.

    I have saved for his college education, prepaid his college tuition...

    In short, he has had every advantage. According to him I did everything wrong. You would have thought I tortured him and abused him.

    Do what you can do. That is all you can do. Do not take any guff from anyone--especially your child.

    Here from BC Carnival.
    Mert said...
    Awesome post, I can relate on many levels. You get to the point where you are defending yourself , whether it's needed or not. It becomes a knee jerk reaction. It's hard to deprogram yourself from it, but you have proven that it is possible.
    e-Mom said...
    A thoughtful post, Michele. I agree with Malissa too. " husband and I answer to God for our choices not anyone else. We have to do what we know God called us to do. We know God doesn't call everyone to the same choices." Amen.
    Katy Sammons said...
    Great post, Michelle. So far, my practices pretty much mirror yours. That is encouraging to me!
    Anna Venger said...
    Good thoughts. There is no one right way to run a home as long as it's ruled by love (and love doesn't mean letting kids get away with murder). It's my impression that parents before our time didn't worry so much about how they parented. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I only need to be a "good enough" mother, and that relieves the pressure to be "perfect" which can be different for different children.
    Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...
    AMEN sister!! totally with you one this.

    I usually refrain from Mommy Wars, but sometimes I will get riled up - especially if someone is attacking me. Other times I just judged silently. But most often I am pretty Switzerlandy - we are all so different. Of course we parent diferently. Good grief - we all have different opinions and personalities - look at something as simple as our shopping styles. Every one of our grocercy carts is filled with different items. Why would we think that we would all agree on all our difficult parenting decisions when we can't even agree on breakfast cereal?

    So way to go girl...oh - I mean Switzerland! :)
    A Real Man said...
    I hope this is not for women only!! I have a friend who once said, "I always thought you were too hard on your children, but you have the best behaved children I have ever seen." Good argument for discipline huh?

    I agree with you on Switzerland why fight when you are surrounded by mountains? In your case mountains of wisdom.

    I don't know the scripture off hand and my Bible is in my room and I am in our office but how about this one? "A childs heart is full of folly but the rod of discipline shall drive the ignorance from them?"

    In His Service,

    Jennifer said...
    I finally am working my way through some of the carnival entries. I'm glad I stopped here. I SO agree. I'm very opinionated, so it's hard for me to keep my unsolicited opinions to myself, but I do try. I agree that we should just all try to leave each other alone!
    michele said...
    Craig, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I agree with you on the need for discipline, it's key to well behaved kids and what's amazing is that my daughters understand this and agree.

    And guys are always welcome to comment on my blog :-)

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