Have you ever noticed that stories about motherhood in the media tend to be inflammatory? Divisive? Controversial?
I’m not sure who coined the term “mummy wars” but it’s an accurate way to describe the way the media creates mountains out of molehills purely to create a stir. And it works! From Breastfeeding to co-sleeping, attachment parenting to working mothers vs stay-at-home mum’s it seems every topic is a source of debate and offense.
Fortunately though, the picture that the media paints is rarely accurate.
I know lot’s of people who are passionate about breastfeeding but not one of them breastfed an 8 year old. I also have lot’s of friends who are working mothers and some who stay-at-home and amazingly we manage to co-exist quite peacefully. I don’t actually know anyone in real life that thinks they are a better mother than someone else because of a particular parenting choice. We might not always agree on the way the other parents a child but it’s hardly a competition – or maybe that’s just me.
The media will always choose to depict the extreme. It gets out attention and they sell more magazines and newspapers. There’s a method to the madness. We don’t have to buy into it.
Parenting isn’t a competition
It isn’t a competition because what matters to one mother may not matter to another. I won’t take pride in the fact my children are well-groomed and think that makes me a superior parent because the notion is ludicrous. It’s not a competition. Don’t turn it into one.
It’s okay to be different
Trying to be like someone else or blend in with popular culture because we are scared to stand out is discouraging and unfulfilling. The problem is we probably can’t tell the difference anymore between what is “being ourselves” and what are cultural expectations.
I once had someone say to me, “I love fashion. It’s just me. It’s just who I am. I’m happy when I look good”. I argued (politely) that fashion is rarely more than a cultural expectation and one usually driven by fear of being different. Let’s face it, wouldn’t we rather wear trackies all day and not have to bother with make-up? Okay – perhaps that’s my own private fantasy. My argument was that fashion can be an outworking of creativity but only if you’re experimenting with fluro colours and feathers not when you look the same as everyone else.
So actually finding out who we are, what we love is actually a difficult question. So therefore, saying “It’s okay to be different” is vastly more complicated than it first seems. Same goes for parenting. We have to carefully examine the cultural expectations with what we feel may be right – even when it goes against the flow.
So, I don’t know about you but I’m not interested in a war. I’m interested in peace so I just won’t play the game.
Let’s remember not to take the bait that’s offered in the media and do our best to live peacefully with one another.
It doesn’t have to be like this.