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Are We From the Same Tribe?

Posted by on November 7, 2011

Here are a few things I know about moms:

  • Moms like to parent their own way.  Makes sense considering how you let the child literally live inside you for about 9 months and went to all that effort to get the baby out safely.
  • Moms don’t want to be judged by the way they parent.  Makes sense; who ever wants to be judged period?
  • Moms do not want to be told that the way in which they are parenting is wrong.  I get that.  I don’t really like to be told that I do anything wrong.  Even petty crap.
  • Moms think that the way they personally parent is the best way to parent.  I personally have never met a mom that has admitted to being a shitty parent, and quite frankly, I think some of them should have.
  • Moms are opinionated.  Duh.
So my point in writing all of this down is that I couldn’ t help thinking about these points after remembering this parenting quote:
“There is no right way to parent, but every parent is certain that their own way is the right way and any way that differs greatly is the wrong way.”
For the life of me, I can’t remember where I read this.  Perhaps, Our Babies, Ourselves?   If you know where this comes from, please leave it in the comments so I can properly cite it.
I started thinking about this quote and the aforementioned points after watching a segment on The View.  If you hate the View, then don’t worry I can hear your groans of disgust through the computer screen.  I happen to love the show.   Even if Sherri drives me a little batty.  I digress.
Today the ladies of The View were discussing the so-called parenting book To Train Up A Child.  They showed a clip of this man who looked as though he could have possibly been living on Warren Jeffs compound swatting a 50 year old man with a switch.  The 50 year old man who was interviewing said that the swatting hurt.  He then asked how this man could possibly do this to a baby, toddler or young child.  The creepy author replied that he had never met a successful adult that was not spanked.
The ladies of The View went on to discuss spanking.  Two of them said they spanked their children.  One said that when she spanked she made sure to not actually hit the child but instead to just get their attention.  Another one said that she felt the spank should hurt in order to make a point.  So I had this conversation and the interview of the creepy man in my head when I saw this image:

VIA Attachment Parenting International Facebook

The image was accompanied by this caption once again via Attachment Parenting International’s Facebook page:

“When I was about twenty years old, I met an old pastor’s wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn’t believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time.

“But one day when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking–the first in his life. And she told him he would have to go outside and find a switch for her to hit him with. The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying.

“He said to her, ‘Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock you can throw at me.’ All of the sudden a mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, it mkaes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone.

“The mother took the boy onto her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence. Because violence begins in the nursery–one can raise children into violence.”

~From a peace prize acceptance speech given by Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstockin

So now I find myself completely consumed by the divisiveness that lies in motherhood.  For the record, I am not going to share what I think about spanking, though you might be able to tell, and here is why:  If I tell you something that I do or something that I don’t do, the only thing that gets accomplished is the passage of judgement or acceptance by you cast onto me.  My sharing of how I raise my kids will more than likely not make an iota of difference in how a reader chooses to raise his or her own children.  And I know this because of the five bullet points and quote I shared earlier.  As mothers, I can’t speak for fathers because I am not one, we get so caught up in our own inner monologue of what we think is right that we often come off as polarizing or an activist of sorts.  And to tell you the truth, I don’t think activists get a lot accomplished.  I think regular people do.

Let me put it this way, when I meet a mother at a park, I generally will spend more time talking to her if she and I appear to share a common practice of parenting.  If I see a mother using a baby carrier, chances are I will carry on a conversation with her.  If I see a mom nursing her baby, I can probably carry on a conversation with her too.  Why?  Well, we kind of appear to be from the same parenting tribe.  Now, the mom that is screaming at her kid or cussing up a storm as she yaks on a cell phone while her toddler plays alone, well, I’m probably not going to go out of my way to strike up a conversation.  It appears that we are from two different tribes, even if it is only based on one cursory observation.

What’s funny is that I don’t ever remember thinking these things about random people prior to having kids.  You could do just about anything short of being a mouth breather (because that is just gross),and I really wouldn’t  have cared.  But now suddenly after having two kids I find myself being the equivalent of Seinfeld’s “soup Nazi” on the playground.  No soup for you!  No mother bonding time for you!

But here is the thing,  I don’t not talk to a mom because I am judging them.  In fact, it is actually the opposite.  I avoid certain moms and approach others because I don’t want to be judged.  I’m not perfect, and I won’t pretend to be.  I know people say that we have to accept differences because they make the world go around.  And I agree.  But on that same note, I think some of the things that people do to their kids are shitty at best.  I feel like telling them sometimes too, but I don’t.  Because deep down, I a) don’t think it will make a single difference and b) don’t want to hear the reaction.

So I guess that is why I seek out people who look like they belong to my parenting tribe.  And I guess when I complain about the divisiveness between moms and parenting styles, I have nobody to blame but myself.  However, I do have this teeny, tiny Facebook page.  And on that page, I talk to a lot of people who I don’t know in real life.  But by posting random questions that enter my head and reading their answers, I feel like I am doing something to get to better understand moms from all walks of life.  And maybe someday, I will approach the mom cussing up a storm on her phone and ask her what “that asshole husband of her’s did” and forget to care if she thinks it is weird that I am walking around the park with my baby strapped to me like a koala.



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One Response to Are We From the Same Tribe?

  1. tiff

    thanks for blogging. I feel the same. I don’t believe activists achieve.much either except preach to the converted and alienate the rest. if you haven’t already read stuff there have been a lot of experiments on how strongly held beliefs and attitudes actually shift (polarise) further when confronted with an opposing view. so a mum who believes that physical violence (I don’t like the term spanking- it is too cute) is necessary (but feels awful when she does it) is confronted with a militant anti- spanker her attitude will shift even further and she may find herself saying things that even she doesn’t believe. militancy would be better left to the military I think. but you may have your own opinion there :-) . the little piece on opinions judgements and the other thing was really helpful. I try and see both sides but then come across all wushu washy (that’s the Japanese version) anyway. rambling now cause I need sleep. anyway thanks

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