So friends, this is a safe space, right? Well, I am glad because I have got to get something off my chest. You know what really grinds my gears? Unsolicited mom advice. I do not mean the “This bottle was awesome for us, you should totally give it a try” advice. I mean the “My kids never did ______, so apparently you are doing it all wrong” advice. I recently chatted with one of my dearest mom friends and we had stories for days to compare. That convo got me thinking about why we, as women, do this and my mind has not stopped thinking about it since.
Recently, I posted a funny story about one of my children on Facebook. I am one of those moms who posts tons of stories about her family, particularly my boys, so if you follow me, you will typically get a daily picture, funny story, or sweet memory highlighting them. On this particular day, I shared an amusing story about my twonager. He had done something in true toddler fashion, and I thought it would be a relatable post to moms united in toddler terror. While 99% of the commenters laughed hysterically and shared personal experiences of their own, one ‘seasoned’ mom, as I like to refer to them, decided to be a Debbie Downer and lecture me on my child’s behavior. I was floored for a number of reasons, but the one thing that stuck out to me was how far removed she was from dealing with a small child. Seems some people forget how hot the kitchen can get when they have not cooked in years.
When an older mama haphazardly recalls stories of her adult children as being perfectly behaved and well-mannered little ones, my inner self always goes, “Yea right” and gives the biggest eye roll in eye rolling history. This is because, to me, one of a few things has taken place — she was younger back in the day and had more energy to deal with her kids, she is referring to outdated information, or her children were young so long ago, she has forgotten all that raising them entailed. Her vantage point is as skewed as an angle. Her methods were probably spot on when her children were younger, but things have changed and so have the ways we choose to parent. Plus, in retrospect, you tend to forget the meltdowns, the ill-mannered moments, and the flat out hard days this job can require.
To fully understand my point, let’s take a walk down memory lane.
Did you know past generations would rub alcohol, such as whiskey or brandy, on the sore gums of a teething child to ease the discomfort? Did you know in the 1970s the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended babies sleep on their tummies to avoid choking? Did you know car seats were not a legal requirement until the mid-1980s? I do not know about you, but I ensure my five-month-old is asleep on his back, teething can be a doozy, but I could not fathom using alcohol whatsoever, and I could not imagine even driving to my mailbox without my children securely strapped in their car seats. However, normalcy, whether it be the outdated practices I mentioned above or even the stages of childhood development, can look quite different over time.
So mama, the next time you find yourself being pressured by your great Aunt Agnes to give your two-month-old mashed potatoes because she did it, or you feel your anxiety rising as the old lady at the checkout counter makes a snarky remark about your baby’s behavior since they aren’t acting how she recalls her “perfect” children did, or you find yourself as the butt of an uncomfortable joke about the way you are choosing to raise your children, remember that you are actually living these parenting days, they are merely remembering them.
The realities are not the same.
The bottom line is the world has changed drastically over the decades and parenting is not exempt from that. It too has evolved, which is why we, as new age mamas, have to be trusted to sometimes do things in a different way. This is not to say we do not want advice because wisdom from the older generation can be a beautiful thing. We would just appreciate it if it came from a place of love, not self-righteousness; and when it is offered not forced. You have had your turn and reared your children. Please give us the opportunity and respect to raise ours. God has entrusted us with the greatest gifts in blessing us with our children and he has also graced us for the task.