Most moms have been there. You're at the park, or at school or on a play date with your kids when you state an opinion about parenting. Another mom disagrees with you. And, boom! Mom War III breaks out. This kind of behavior is not healthy or beneficial for any parties involved. Most moms are doing their best to raise a happy, healthy family, but instead of supporting each other, we find ourselves in a "Mom vs. Mom" situation.
What is a "mommy war?"
A "mommy war" is when a mom or moms think that their way of parenting is superior to another mom's way of nurturing her children. Instead of quietly disagreeing, moms debate with one another on why their way is "best." Often, mothers are left hurt, mad and concentrating their precious energy on arguments, while the time would be better spent on their children or some other positive avenue.
What is there, really, to fight about?
Good question. Apparently there's plenty:
Breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding.
Disposable diapers vs. cloth diapers.
Hospital birth vs. home birth.
Immunizations vs. non-vaccinated.
Home school vs. public school vs. private or charter school.
Co-sleeping vs. sleeping in their own bed.
Working outside of the home mom vs. stay-at-home mom.
Natural birth vs. induced/epidural/C-section birth.
"I still have 30 pounds to lose after baby" vs. "I fit in my jeans right after birth."
Strictly organic foods vs. fast foods.
Large families vs. one-child homes.
"Being a mom fulfills me" vs. "I love being a mom, but I need something more."
Raising children with religion vs. raising children without religion.
Spanking vs. not spanking.
Holistic medicine vs. strictly medical.
Ride the bus to school vs. carpool.
Television time vs. books only.
The list goes on with topics like preschool, playdates, reading to your children, bedtime, etc. It seems that no topic is safe from differing opinions.
There's many ways to be a great mom
Despite differences of opinions, moms are trying to make the best decisions for their family. Just like some people prefer vanilla ice cream and some would rather have Rocky Road (both great choices), the same goes for parenting decisions. Having a different opinion, or disagreeing with someone else's choice does not mean one is better than the other. Find common ground, such as the fact that you are both moms just doing what is best for your children. Moms can be great moms a number of different ways.
Look at situations from another perspective
Often, if we can just see someone's view through their eyes, that can help dispel any conflict. Perhaps they have a personal reason or belief that influences their choices. Maybe they've tried another route, but changed their actions based on experience. It is OK to have civil dialogue to understand other's choices and to even help you to make informed decisions about your own children. Realize that you still may disagree and that's OK.
Put hot topics on the back burner
If you've had heated discussions on certain topics in your circle of mom friends before, it may be good to put them away and label them as "non-discussion topics." Agree to disagree and keep the peace. Is it really worth risking a friendship over? Probably not.
Stay away from potentially hurtful comments
Statements to a working mom like, "I could never leave my children with someone else," can hurt. Similarly, saying, "I wouldn't put poison into my child, so I don't vaccinate," is also a judgmental statement. You can state your opinion, but make sure you do it in a tactful, non-attacking way. Think before you speak and try to understand how that would sound from the other mom's point of view.
Moms should be on the same team
Instead of beating each other up over our parenting styles, we need to seek to strengthen and support each other. We're all doing a great job and the best we can. We don't need to "one-up" (or one-down) another mom to show how our life is so much better or worse than theirs. Compliments can go a lot further than a put-down.
Social media mom wars
Social media has brought a whole new aspect to mom wars. People can state something, and within minutes or hours have thousands of views and comments. There's a lot of parenting opinions out there. From blogs, articles (like this one), comments on Facebook or Twitter, Pinterest or online magazine articles, you can find just about every opinion on parenting topics.
Just because the person is a stranger, or you disagree, or think the mom in question shouldn't be a mom based on her views, does not mean you should say it! A good rule of thumb to follow is, "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all." Keep it uplifting, positive and kind. If you don't like a certain view, simply don't share it with your friends. We don't have to create wars based on a stranger's point of view (or even a close friend's). Just like you, they are likely doing the best they can in this sea of information.
There is no manual for parenting. As moms, we make informed decisions that we ultimately feel are right for our family. Some things that work great in one family may not work in another. Rise above the "Mommy Wars" and become a united front of strength in womanhood and motherhood. Put all of that great energy into lifting others and being the best moms we can be for our children. Raising a healthy, happy family can be accomplished many different ways.