The other week I wrote a letter to Jamie Oliver after his comments about breastfeeding being ‘easy, more convenient and better’. I just want to clarify; I wasn’t offended by what he said and I wasn’t bashing him for his message. I was pointing out to anyone who agreed that it is ‘easy, more convenient and better’ that it is so much more complicated than we all assume unless we’ve done it.
But was I offended? No.
And we need to stop being offended by facts when it comes to our parenting. Claiming that breastfeeding is easy etc is not a fact. But saying that the UK has a very low rate of mothers breastfeeding beyond six months, or that breast milk is the best thing medically for your baby is fact.
We can’t pretend it’s not just because it doesn’t fit with our model of trying to be the perfect parent.
Formula companies are allowed to advertise but whenever anyone says breastfeeding is a good option, they get shouted down as if to be pro-breastfeeding is to be anti-formula feeding.
Of course this is not the case. And any ‘offense’ is simply the bodyguard of our insecurities. It is there to protect us from feeling vulnerable about the most precious things and the most important job of our lives. I get that. I’ve been there. And to worry that you’re not doing the best by your children is almost heartbreaking. So we decide that we’ve been judged and that the other people are narrow minded so that we can, in our minds, remain superior in some respect with our open minds and hearts.
This isn’t limited to breastfeeding.
When people suggest weaning your baby onto food at five months to help them sleep, they are not suggesting you are starving your baby. Nor are they suggesting your breast milk is not enough or that you are failing because your baby isn’t sleeping through. They are trying to help.
When a fellow mum tells you she is not returning to work because she wants to be there for her children, she is not suggesting that you are a bad mother because you went back to work at 6 months. She is not suggesting you don’t want to be with your children or that work takes priority over them. She is simply telling you about a decision she has made.
When a mum tells you she makes every meal for her children from scratch, she is not implying that the odd jar here and there will poison your baby. She is probably just bloody proud of herself!
Of course there are some people who ARE judgemental. But these people are probably strangers on the Internet or something. People you have never met and are unlikely to meet. People who you have no intention of ever meeting or knowing or befriending. And it’s ok to explain your point of view and your decisions. But if we become judgemental back at them then we are just as bad.
And if we don’t know them and don’t care to know them, it doesn’t actually matter what they think.
But let’s not get offended by the comments of people who are just trying to help, who have made different decisions to us and who are proud of their efforts. If they are commenting respectfully then let’s respect them back.
And lets stop being offended by comments which intend no offence.