Something has been on my mind a lot lately. I am as guilty of it as the next woman. Call it the “Mom Wars.” The battle lines are drawn. Do you know where you stand?
* Stay at home, work from home, work outside the home
* Home school, private school, public school
* TV or not
* Organic or not
* Home birth, birth center, hospital
* Epidural or natural
* Co-sleeping or crib
* Bottle or breastfeeding
* Vaccinate or not
* Prius or Suburban
And that’s just a short list.
Where did we as women, especially Christian women, learn to categorize other women? Are we born thinking in these ways? Do we learn early on as we compete with each other?
Do you know the scene at the beginning of Terminator when the terminator goes into the biker bar? He’s looking around sizing up people looking for clothes that will fit him. As women, how easily do we size up a new acquaintance? From first glance, we take in hair, make-up or lack there of, clothes, shoes, jewelry. And that’s just the outside.
Just a few minutes of conversation and we have put this new person in one of two categories: agrees with me or disagrees with me. The former we use to assure ourselves that we are right. The latter we use to feel better about ourselves. As in “at least I’m doing the right thing about …, unlike her.” How easy it is to dismiss someone just because we don’t agree.
Shouldn’t we put aside our differences and support each other? Mothering has to be one of the hardest jobs out there. We need all the support we can get and who best to give it than other mothers. On issues such as those mentioned above, Scripture is silent. As such, each of us is making decisions, with God’s grace, for the best of our families.
Instead of sniping at each other, can’t we love each other and appreciate the difficulty of making these decisions. To be clear, I am not arguing for moral relativism. There are issues on which I believe there are clear right and wrong sides. These issues, however, are rarely the ones we use to divide ourselves up as moms.
As Paul wrote, “I am the chief of sinners.” I know my failings are great, and I pray God will help me. With God’s grace, maybe we can all spend our time building each other up instead of tearing each other down.
8 thoughts on “Mom Wars”
Lovely (and loving) thoughts for a new year. If women viewed their interactions with each other as a tapestry, rather than a backdrop cloth for comparison, it would encourage them to appreciate how we each contribute something useful to the lives we connect with, and the importance of those connections.
Sometimes people look at other people’s responses to something you posted and assume the other person is attacking you personally when there is no attack at all but instead the other person is simply addressing the issue. The other person may have no idea where you stand on the issue. It goes both ways. Rather than assuming the person that has a differing view is attacking you, maybe it would do us all well to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Their motive may be one of sharing something they believe to be true and trying to help. As Christian’s we don’t want to shut down other people because we don’t agree with them. At one time the gospel was the opposing position, and I thank God that someone was willing to voice it.
I’m not sure how your point relates to what I wrote, Rebecca. I wasn’t accusing anyone of here, or elsewhere, of having attacked me for something I’ve said or written. My point here is that, as moms, we will make many decisions for our families that aren’t moral issues. We will often disagree with others about those decisions, but we should be willing to support and respect others making those decisions.
Wow! I’m impressed. You worked a Terminator 2 illustration into a post about Moms. That is priceless. 🙂
I love you and we don’t agree on everything. I am right and you should just learn to agree with ME and all will be well! LOL
It’s more challenging than it first appears to not take comments personal. It is more daunting to doubt ourselves than assume superiority even on issues of charity. I wondered why you picked only those where there is no clear guideline and am thoroughly impressed at your thoughtful list and composition. No one is right all the time. We need to learn to give each other grace; grace is sadly missing in many every day interactions, not just on social media sites. I find snide expressions from on lookers at the grocery when my child (or niece) is frustrated over the dreaded mom word “no”. Many need to show grace, especially the many who claim to know and love Jesus. That is all I think you are saying here… or at least that’s what spoke directly to me.
I often see several sides to the issues that you listed. I am a grandma now, and I know why I made the decisions I made, but I also see why my younger friends and my daughter are making different ones.
A couple of ideas occur to me often. One basic thought is that people defend their positions out of fear – not fear of the Lord, but fear of the opinions of others. So they naturally seek to be with those who agree with them. But we are told that “perfect love casts out fear” and I find myself wishing that we weren’t so defensive and judgemental of the choices of others. I think that it promotes the factions and divisiveness that the Bible warns against and that are so easy for us to harbor in our sinful selves. We need to be secure in the love of Christ and the hand of God that holds onto us.
The second thing that often occurs to me is that the majority of these moms are doing the very best they are able to do for their families. Even as we look backward through generations of parenting, sometimes abusively by our standards, and look at our own ancestry, we should realize that parents were raising children the best way they understood how to in their circumstances. Maybe if we understand people to be limited in their wisdom, finite in their abilities, but loving thier children fiercely,we would be more generous in how we perceive them.
As I said, I think about this often. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to express it.
I’m probably going to get myself into trouble here because I don’t have children, and the response I’ve often noticed from mothers to people without children is “You can’t understand. You don’t have children.” This attitude is rather a fad in our culture and not exclusive to mothers, of course.
I’d like to note for the record that I’m rarely stupid enough to comment on other people’s parenting decisions without solicitation. No matter how much I want to. That said, I’m going to go ahead and put my two cents in. Probably an indication that I’ve lost my mind.
I remember very keenly the first time I held (and sniffed) my nephew and thought “mine.” Babies that look like my little brother make me completely irrational. My educated guess is, it’s even worse when it’s your baby and all that fragility and constant need are your responsibility. Frankly, that’s kind of overwhelming in the abstract.
Some of the violent reactions to otherwise minor disagreements are certainly because motherhood is so personal and laden with so much anxiety for the well-being of the child. If a mother makes a judgment call, she feels the need to justify it constantly because all decisions to do with one’s own children feel so important, whether they actually are or not. If we can achieve a little emotional distance from the issue, a lot of these disagreements are susceptible to resolution by just embracing the idea that there are different strokes for different folks.
That said, I’m not sure if it’s possible to have a “live and let live” attitude about some of these issues, i.e. vaccination. They are connected not only to the health and life of the particular child but to the health of the community and other peoples’ children. I think the best we can sometimes do is try to discuss them coolly and rationally without being unkind or unnecessarily personal. But I’m not sure we can completely avoid feeling the discussion is personal (even if it’s not) for the reason above.
These decisions can have real, potentially serious consequences. Just not talking about them can’t be our solution. For serious issues with firmly held opinions on either side, some of the conflict will be unavoidable. I do think a grain of humility and willingness to hear and understand the concerns of the other person will go a long way to creating the kind of supportive, rather than combative, relationships between mothers that Rachel is advocating here.
Just don’t be surprised when you and tiger mom or you and hippy mom just can’t seem to be bosom friends. Some of these conflicts are real and really matter.