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9to5to9: Who asked you anyway?

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published March 19, 2007, thehive.modbee.com

It must have been great to be Eve. Lucky girl didn’t have anyone to give her parenting advice.

These days, everyone’s a critic. Whether it’s a grandmom or a stranger who once thumbed through a parenting book, you can bet they know more than you.

Using disposable diapers? Global warming’s your fault. Jarred baby food? Might as well put Drano in your little darling’s dish. Baby’s sleeping by himself in that big, lonely room? He’ll never have stable relationships.

And militants on all sides of every issue will tell you – no, scream at you – that they’re right and you’re screwing up your kid.

It’s called Mommy Wars – or sanctimommy. Take your pick, but please, let’s not argue about it. Because in the wired world, vitriol can travel at the speed of a mouse click.

Parenting Web sites have their uses. They’re handy for late-night whining or if the people you trust are three time zones away, as is my case. But they’re not all bucolic little bedtime stories.

America Online parenting boards used to be brutal, long before anyone came up with the term “sanctimommy.” I lurked for a few days on one attachment parenting board but skedaddled out of there after posts suggested your child would turn into an ax murderer if you used a baby swing. A two-day flame war scorched one mother who put her baby in a bouncy chair so she could bathe.

In my post-partum sleep-deprived state, I took those rants to heart for a few hours. But then Big Guy launched into another round of colicky wailing, and his cantankerous little butt was back in the swing. The swing made him happy. Or, at least, less miserable. My loving arms did not.

Sanctimommies are not limited to online. I’ve been truly cursed to run into abundance in the non-electronic world. Because I was a career woman and a “mature” first-time mom – read: old enough to at times be mistaken for the kids’ grandmother – people assumed me incapable of raising human offspring. And they didn’t hesitate to offer me their superior wisdom.

He’ll sleep much better if you put him to bed with a bottle. He’ll never learn to walk it you don’t get him a walker. My babies were more comfortable on their sides – you should try that.

If jealousy is the green-eyed monster, unsolicited parenting advice is a three-headed one.

Head one: Child-rearing practices have dramatically changed in a generation. Heck, they’ve changed in the two years between my kids. When Big Guy was a baby, pacifiers were evil. By the time Little Guy came along, well, not so much.

Head two: There is no “one size fits all.” As much as Big Guy loved the swing, Little Guy hated it. A bath was the best way to calm Little Guy, but water sent baby Big Guy into hysterics. What worked for your kid might not work for mine, so please get off my back about it.

Head three: People judge without having all the information.

Guilty confession: My kids love Starbucks – Big Guy could say “Starbucks” before he could utter complete sentences, and Little Guy recognizes the logo already. So once every weekend, the kids split a decaf mocha Frappucino. It’s one of the few crappy treats they get.

And, yes, sanctimommies, I know decaf has caffeine in it – but only a fraction of what’s in most sodas on the market, so stop giving me dirty looks. At least I’m not stuffing them full of McDonald’s three or four times a week.

Oops! Caught being sanctimommious.

Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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