Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It takes a village. So why do we keep tearing down each others hut?

I had a very interesting conversation over dinner tonight.

A little bit of background - I am attending a symposium on early brain development. It is the result of a wealthy philanthropist who has made great efforts to alert policy makers to the importance of early life experiences to maximize a child potential. There are people from research, healthcare, education and government. A more varied group than I generally hang out with.

For some reason over rhubarb pie and chocolate mousse (both for me) the discussion turned to why mother's are not more supportive of each other. One lady with children in early school years relayed how she had originally joined a mother's group when she had her first baby. She didn't last longer than 6 months because, rather than being a place of support and collective wisdom, the women talked about what mini-van they were going to buy and judge each other.

I have many opportunities to talk with parents and they often tell me about their fears for their children. Of course many of the parents have very specific fears like "how will the stroke affect my baby?" or "will the medication control the seizures?". But many have visible stress about breast feeding, sleep schedules, education plans, etc. And apparently many have difficulty talking about these issues with their mother friends.

The comment field of any mommy blog is a good indication of why mom's might be reluctant to discuss these things. The level of condemnation and judgement is beyond disappointing. I am obviously not the first person to talk about this so I was surprised when one of the women at dinner asked "Why would mothers do this to each other?"

Aside from a couple of naturally nasty and self righteous women (lets face it, some people just suck), I think that most mothers do this from a place of insecurity. They are naturally insecure about their own skills as a parent and they are trying to hold on to something that they feel they are doing right.
  • "What do you mean you give your baby a blanket? My child is in a sleep sack (which is much better; look I am a good mom)"
  • "You co-sleep with your child? My baby was sleep trained at 3 months (I am desperate to do everything I can to make sure they will be independent and successful)"
  • "You don't co-sleep with your child? My baby sleeps with us every night (I am desperate to make sure they feel love even though they are in a daycare during the day)"
  • "What do you mean you supplement with formula? I exclusively breast fed to 9 months, 12  months, 2 years (I am UBER mom, my child will have to turn out ok, right? right?)"
But I also assumed that most people thought this as well. Am I wrong? Or maybe I am delusional. Maybe it is my way of deflecting the judgement of others. Maybe more people suck than I think.

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