I’m at the age when many of my friends and family members are having babies. It is definitely an exciting time in our lives and a time that allows us to learn from one another. Even before having my twins, I experienced lots of different parents and parenting styles that helped guide me towards beliefs I wanted to hold onto when having my own children.
Many of the moms around me definitely have their own set of beliefs that differ from my own. Some of these differences include breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and waking up both girls at night to eat (before they were sleeping through the night). Even with the many viewpoints I have encountered with other moms, I have stayed pretty constant with most of my own parenting beliefs. I have also discovered three focuses that can help Moms interact better with those who may not see eye-to-eye with their views: Finding neutral ground, cultivating your community, and being cognizant of your own actions.
Find Neutral Ground
No one wants a friendship to change simply because two people couldn’t civilly discuss differing beliefs or see each other’s point-of-view. Human beings are meant to be different and embracing those differences is important when discovering yourself and your personal belief system.
However, this isn’t always as easy as it may seem.
Finding a comfortable, neutral ground for discussion can be helpful with those you know who may make comments that you find hurtful. When those people start to veer towards the side of discussion that makes you uneasy, bring the conversation back to a place where the topic is somewhere you know you both can maintain equal positivity.
(Note - If you and your friend (or family member) do not have this safe space between the both of you, there may be other unsolved issues that need to be worked on besides just differing parenting styles.)
Cultivate Your Community
Surrounding yourself with uplifting people is important and sometimes may mean dismissing those who aren’t. You don’t want a friendship with another mom you care about to end – especially if the relationship is important to you. However, if you have tried to mend it time-and-time again without any noticeable changes, then it may be more toxic to you than helpful. If you are the only person putting effort forward, put that effort towards someone who will positively impact your life and your baby’s.
Finding a good group of moms (or even just a couple of people) who are genuinely supportive and available to you when you need to express your thoughts can be the ticket to staying positive. However, positivity isn’t always the easiest emotion to feel (and maintain) during motherhood – and that is absolutely okay.
If you have difficulty holding onto a positive outlook, it’s okay to feel those postpartum blues or feel frustrated with certain aspects of parenthood. Those emotions are what make you human. The people who also feel those emotions and can share their experiences openly with you without judgement, are the people you want to keep in your life moving forward.
Be Cognizant of Your Own Actions
Some people are timid about discussing their parenting style while others may put all their opinions out there. If you are someone who is often very vocal about your beliefs, it is great to share your style and thoughts with others if you think it will help them.
The key word is help, not change. You do not want to try and change a person.
Do not force your thoughts and opinions on other people if it is obvious they do not want them. Be courteous of their beliefs and don’t immediately dismiss them from your life because you both may not see eye-to-eye with certain aspects of parenting. Being unique with your parenting style is a great thing – embrace it.
The best thing you can do is show you care. Appropriately and kindly hand out positive comments rather than opinionated ones. If you are a more experienced mom – you’ve been there before. You know how important it is for a new mom to feel supported rather than attacked. Remember that and show that support.
Jennifer Aline is a coffee addict, new mom of twins and a passionate freelance writer and author. She has had articles in publications such as the NY Daily News, NY Post, Rochester Magazine and In Good Health Magazine as well as others. Aline received her Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Studies from Keuka College and worked in the Human Services field before her two little girls entered her life. Aline now focuses primarily on writing, teaching aerial arts classes in the evenings and, of course, caring for her twin daughters – all while continuously chugging coffee, of course.