The Mummy Wars

Nappy bags at dawn...

We all do it, whether we want to admit it or not. Maybe we try not to do it but can’t help the odd comment here and there. It’s instilled in our genes, our upbringing and our own levels of acceptability. We all judge someone about something at some point and us mums are the worst of all. And who can blame us? Bringing up children is one of the most important things we will ever do; we’re shaping the future Prime Ministers and rocket scientists- we want to get it right. We all, also-at some point in our parenting careers- think that our way is the best way. This is what is classed as The Mummy Wars.

Emma Donoghue wonders why “so many mothers invest not only hard-won reading/thinking/blogging time, but also so much emotional energy and their sense of identity, in the Mummy Wars” and she may have a point. This week a very interesting debate was opened up on In The Powder Room when Heidi aka Working at Home asked a question about discipline in her article, To Smack or Not to Smack. The comments, as always, make really interesting reading and it seems there is a very thin line between what one person feels is acceptable and another feels is not. The fact that this post has received 52 comments already is more than telling of the ferocity of the debate when it comes to important parenting issues and a good example of how easily ‘tribes’ are formed. There is a need to put yourself in a camp and declare war on the other. Or as Donaghue puts it: “When it comes to motherhood, our culture has a strange tendency to slide from the descriptive, to the prescriptive, to the proscriptive.”

I am totaly holding my hands up here. I have judged other parents and I probably will do it again tomorrow. I actually saw a pregnant woman yesterday, pushing a buggy containing a toddler with nothing on her feet (in gale force winds. It was cold), smoking a cigarette and tucking a can of cider into the drinks holder. I wanted to stop the car and tell her off.  I didn’t of course. Who am I to judge? Or am I just a wuss/ hypocrit? She did look the type to land me one to be honest… oops! There I go judging again!

The crux of the matter is that no matter how hard we try, we will always judge our own parenting based on that of others and there is no way that is ever going to stop. Perhaps those with heated views and the courage to speak out are actually the ones who are in right? Or perhaps we should all live and let live? Unless a child is in obvious danger, who are we to say whether or not they are being brought up properly? My husband was bottle fed, I was not. Our daughter was breastfed and our son still has a bottle. Who is right and who is wrong?

You really should read the rest of Emma Donaghue’s article. She wants to start a revolution which involves allowing other mothers (since fathers, whilst being more “highly hands-on” than in previous years, are perhaps not so likely to be “interested in having long conversations about whether they think of themselves as Tiger Fathers or Panda Dads, Furberizers or Babywearers.”) to parent in their own way, without criticism. I don’t think we can do it. It will always be too important to let go. Won’t it?

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5 responses to “The Mummy Wars

  • Heidi Scrimgeour

    Big Emma Donoghue fan and love this piece in particular but hadn’t seen it until now, thanks for flagging it. 

    Great post, too. You’re right, we do all do it. But I think she’s right too – there’s no need to put ourselves in a camp and declare war on the others. I know the urge to do so sometimes says more about my own secret inadequacies than the parenting skills (or perceived lack thereof) of those I’m so quick to judge. And I wonder if those kind of judgements are an effort to validate MY way of parenting over someone else’s? But if I feel validated about my parenting I’m less quick to condemn someone else’s way. Maybe if mums felt more validated as a whole we might be less inclined to pit ourselves against each other?

    • ghostwritermummy

      I love Emma D too- her article makes perfect sense. I do think that we need to ease up on each other and ourselves. Perhaps like you say, we are so defensive because we feel inadequate ourselves.

  • Donna@MummyCentral

    It will never happen. Women just can’t help themselves. We’re subconsciously in competition all the time. I get lectured on child rearing by friends without kids. In some ways as a mum I’m less judgemental because my ideals of motherhood went right out the window when I had my second and most challenging child. I realised not all kids can be ‘trained’. Some parents just do the best they can. But I would still have judged that pregnant mum with the gag and the cider!

  • Donna@MummyCentral

    Hope it’s obvious meant fag in that last comment!

  • Dear Shouty-mum-at-swimming « ghostwritermummy

    […] readers of this post will see that I kept my promise and I am still judging other mums. But when they’re in your […]

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