The last thing any mother needs is another woman making her life harder. Women, we need to show one another more love, empathy and kindness. You never know the magnitude of the battle the other woman is facing.
It's time to be more considerate in our interactions.
Last week, I asked a large group of women, "What are some things that moms should stop saying to each other?" Here are a few of their answers:
1. "Well, I do it this way ... "
When it comes to parenting, one size does not fit all. Just because something works for you, doesn't mean it will work for everyone. There isn't one "right way" to do something. Just because you don't agree with how another mom feeds her kids, changes diapers, chooses schools, etc. doesn't mean she is doing those things incorrectly.
2. "If it was MY child ... "
The fact of the matter is they are NOT your child. That child was born into that particular family for a reason, and that mom knows her child's needs better than you will ever understand. Instead of critiquing her parenting techniques, celebrate and complement her successes.
3. "I feel like a single mom."
A week away from your husband does not mean you truly understand (or even comprehend) what it feels like to be a single mom. It was probably a tough week — but it doesn't compare to the heartbreaking, lonely and difficult struggles of single motherhood.
4. "When are you going to have kids?"
None of your business, so don't even ask. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.5 million women are infertile and 6.7 million women deal with impaired fecundity (the inability to get pregnant or carry a baby to full term). Infertility is a devastatingly difficult challenge for many women, so questions like that can be extremely hurtful to someone trying for a baby.
5. "What's wrong with your kid?"
If a child does something strange or unusual, that doesn't mean something is wrong with them. Health problems and mental health issues are common reasons for a child to act differently than other children. The best things you can do is love that child, embrace their differences and learn how you can appropriately act toward them and make them feel accepted.
6. "Why don't you do this instead?"
Don't give advice unless someone asks for it. You have no idea what their situation is or what is going on in their home. Unsolicited advice is not fun. If they ask for it, you are welcome to give it, but wait until it's solicited.
7. "You're a bad mom for not breastfeeding ... "
Regardless of where you are on the bottle or breastfed debate, at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. You just have to do what is right for you and your baby. Just like any other controversial topic (e.g., circumscision, co-slweeping, birth plans, etc.), it's okay to share your opinions, just leave out the condemnation and judgement.
8. "You're not invited."
It feels horrible to be left out of a group. No more cliques and excluding others. Every mom needs a friend and a strong community to help her feel loved and cared for.
9. "Did you see what she did last week?"
Leave the gossip to the teenage girls. Talking badly about one another is distructive and unneccessary. If you have a problem with someone, confront them directly and resolve the issue. If you have to talk about someone, then only speak kindly of them.
10. Not saying anything
Sometimes, saying nothing at all can be as hurtful as saying something. If you see someone struggling, reach out! Offer up a hug, a listening ear, a helping hand. Reach out to the women close to you and in your community. Let them know they are not alone.
If someone has said something offensive to you, forgive and let go. (It's bound to happen some time.) Respond with love and respect. Motherhood isn't easy, but if you can help lift another person's burdens, the load won't seem as heavy.