Who knew I was doing it so wrong? I mean, I think my kids are turning out pretty damn awesome. They get good grades, they have great personalities, they’re decent to their siblings, they’re respectful to strangers. I actually think I have a real shot at my kids growing into legitimate functioning adults and decent members of society.
I try to fundamentally believe that every day, but then my Facebook feed has me questioning my mothering at every turn.
How could it not? It’s full of perfect-parenting status updates, scary kid-related news articles, social and religious commentaries, medical studies of all types, opinions from the left, the right, the middle, pastors, doctors, teachers, psychologists and maybe even your grandma. Add to that the sanctimommies, the helicopter parents, the free rangers and the millennial moms, and it’s like a big-ass buffet of mothering methodology maladies all day every day on social media. Everyone’s opinion is not only right, it’s better than yours and, most likely, more extreme. It’s a wonder I can get out of bed in the morning ready to be a mom for another day. I mean, if I took to heart all of the crap I read I would totally think I’m ruining my children. And if I were in my 20s and was a new mom or pregnant with my first baby? Who knows how I would find the bravery to be a parent in this day and age.
Is anybody doing it right? According to a typical week’s worth of Facebook posts and all the comments, here are all the ways you are parenting wrong—all wrong:
1. If you had a C-section: You gave up trying to have a natural birth. You’re a wimp. C-sections are the easy way out.
2. If you had a drug-free hospital birth: You’re shaming all the mothers who needed pain relief. Why be so brave? It’s not a pain tolerance contest.
3. If you had a medicated hospital birth: Again, wimp. What, you couldn’t get through a few contractions? Do you know what drugs do to your unborn baby?
4. If you had a home birth: Seriously, who does that? We have medical advances now, you know. You’re lucky you and your baby didn’t die.
5. If you breastfed: You are a crazy lactivist who is showing off and shaming all the mothers who couldn’t breastfeed. Please put your boobs away. We all don’t want to see you feeding your baby. Not everyone has it that easy.
6. If you formula fed: You gave up too early. You’re a quitter. Really, it’s wasn’t that hard. It’s natural. It’s what your breasts are meant to do. Not everyone has it as easy as bottles.
7. If you breastfed and formula fed: What, one didn’t work out well enough for you? You should have really just stuck with one and followed through with it.
8. If you co-slept: You can kill your baby that way, you know. So what if you’re tired and want to feed while lying down? It’s terrible for his future development. He will be sleeping with you until he’s 15. Get up and put that baby in his crib where he belongs.
9. If your baby slept in a crib: How truly sad. You don’t want your baby near you 24/7? What kind of mother doesn’t want that? It’s good for their future development. Baby should be in bed with you where he belongs. Attachment at all times is the only way to go.
10. If you used disposable diapers: Ugh. They are lined with toxic chemicals and cause rashes that never go away. Maybe cancer. And, oh, the landfills!
11. If you used cloth diapers: You must really like scraping poop off of cotton. And you wash them in your regular washing machine at home? Ew! It’s not the pioneer days anymore, you know. Seriously, Ma Ingalls. No.
12. If you made your own baby food: Who has time for that nonsense? Listen, Gwyneth, they sell organic baby food in the jar that’s just as good, if not better. Please get over yourself and your cute little blender.
13. If you bought baby food in jars at the store: Do you realize what is really in that food? How can you not have time to make your own? It’s so much better for your baby. Please get over yourself and your selfish reasons not to do this small service for your child’s welfare.
14. If you potty trained after age 3: You waited that long? That is way too late. They should be trained by 18 months. Lazy.
15. If you potty trained at 18 months: That’s a joke, right? How at 18 months can they tell you they have to go? They will train when they’re ready. Don’t worry. Nobody goes to kindergarten in diapers.
16. If you send your kids to public school: Like, with the regular, average people who don’t care about their kids’ educations? Or are you trying to make a statement that private schools are for upper-class elitists?
17. If you send your kid to private school: Are you one of those religious zealots, or do you just have lots of money? I’m sure your kids won’t be traumatized by nuns the rest of their lives. Peace be with you.
18. If you homeschool: Why, oh why, would anyone want to be with their kids all day long and have them grow up weird and totally unsocialized? Are you even qualified? Do you think you’re better than us?
19. If your daughters wear dresses and play with dolls: You must realize it’s 2015, and letting them dress like that and play with gender-specific toys only reinforces social inequality among men and women and brings women down and tells them they can’t grow up and become scientists and maybe they’re really boys on the inside and you’ll never know because you keep putting them in skirts.
20. If you let your boys play with toy guns: Oh my God. Do you not watch the news? No guns, ever. They will grow up and mass-murder throngs of people. They should only be playing with gender-neutral, non-violent toys so they can spend their childhoods figuring out what gender they really feel like they are. And no video games ever.
21. If your son plays sports: You are just reinforcing athletic and gender-specific roles. To complement soccer, he really should be in a cooking and organic gardening class. Maybe sewing, too.
22. If your daughter enjoys arts and crafts, baking and ballet: Oh, you’re raising one of those? You know she will grow up thinking she belongs in a kitchen making cute cupcakes for the classroom. Oh, and she will be bossed around by her future husband. And ballet class is terrible for her body image. She should be in kickboxing class instead. Or how about soccer?
23. If you tell your daughter she is pretty: No! You just don’t do that these days! Don’t ever tell her that! She will only think of herself as just “pretty” for the rest of her life, nothing more. It’s irreparably damaging.
24. If you don’t tell your daughter she is pretty: Yep, that’s smart. So now she will jump into bed with the first Joe off the street who tells her she is pretty. Well done, Mom.
25. If you let your son cry: No, no, no! Boys should never show emotion. They need to show grit.
26. If you tell your son not to cry: This is why we’re raising a nation of wimpy men. They should be crying once a day at the very least. Otherwise, you’re not challenging them enough and they will never develop grit.
27. If you let them go to sleepovers: Nope, you cannot allow that. One of the friends’ parents or extended family members might be a pedophile.
28. If you don’t do sleepovers: You are denying your kids one of childhood’s best experiences. You are totally too paranoid. Let go a little.
29. If you let your teenagers swear: I would never allow such horrific behavior in my presence. You’re not being the cool parent; you are just being classless and trying too hard to be their friend.
30. If you don’t let you teenager swear: Teens need to know they can freely express themselves however they need to, and that includes letting, “Oh, fuck this shit! ” roll off their tongues whenever they want. Come on, be the cool mom, or they will never open up to you.
31. If you let your daughter date at age 16: She’s gonna get pregnant. Maybe she already is. What a tramp! Side hugs and chaperones, please.
32. If you don’t let your daughter date until she is 18: That’s too late. She needs experience to learn about dating and boys. I gave my daughter the pill when she was 13. Never too early to prevent what’s gonna happen anyway.
33. If you let your daughter go out half naked: She is asking to be raped. She obviously has no self esteem or respect for her body. It will be her fault if something happens to her.
34. If you make your daughter dress modestly: So you think all men and boys are rapists, huh? All of them? You’re trying to teach her it’s her fault if she is raped. Stop making her hide her body, and enough with the slut shaming.
And the mother of all mothering debates:
35. If you work full time: How can you leave your kids all day? You like money that much? You don’t need things. You know, kids need their moms all day, every day. It’s selfish that you’re a happier and more productive woman in a career you really love than you would be at home, even if it made you miserable. I bet if you sacrificed here and there you could stay home and make it work, you know, like eat rice for dinner.
36. If you stay home with the kids: Don’t you know that not being in the workforce is a bad example for your children? Daughters of working mothers end up more successful. I’m sure that study is true for every single family in this country. What exactly do you do all day? I wish I could stay home and watch TV and go out to lunch.
What I wish, and what I know we as mothers and women are capable of doing, is that we simply support each other. Even if they don’t parent like you, mother like you, even if you think they are batshit crazy–restrain yourself. All you need to say is, “I may not agree with you, but I will support you and what works for your family. You’re not failing as a parent.”