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Jayne Heinrich
The Naptown Organizer

How to Win When It Comes to ‘Mommy Wars’

PUBLISHED ON 12/18/2012

Imagine this scenario.

You're sitting at the park with your friend, watching your children play.  The topic of spanking children comes up in the conversation.  Your friend expresses her opinions on the topic, which vastly differ from yours - and then she asks for your thoughts.

How do you navigate this conversation?  Do you tell her how you really feel? Do you make minimal comments and then transition into another topic? Do you begin a debate with her about why you disagree with her opinions?

In any aspect of parenting in any given topic, there are going to be opinions at both extremes as well as in the middle ground.  Almost strangers, acquaintances, and good friends will all invariably have opinions at some point that are going to differ from yours.  Add in the social media to this cocktail of differences and you often see people expressing their beliefs with little to no reserve.

When you really think about it, though, if you put on your armor and step into battle over a certain topic or parenting choice, what does that do?  Would that actually change the other person's opinions or habits and strategies of parenting?

Probably not.

In my short-lived time (almost two years) so far as a parent, I've come to recognize parenting style discussions as almost the new taboo topic- closely following religion and politics.  Unless you know a person very significantly aligns with your belief system of parenting - or is a close enough friend that you can come out of the conversation with continued mutual respect despite your differences- then you probably shouldn't get into a discussion or debate about it with that person.

As mothers, we all recognize the same trials.  We all have children who at some points don't want to sleep, don't want to eat, throw tantrums in public places, disobey rules while testing their boundaries, and many other scenarios common to being a parent.  We all feel the same weight when deciding what path or strategy will work most effectively for our children and ourselves.  We all love our children, and- at the end of the day- we are all trying to do the best for them as we see fit.

Providing each other with mutual respect no matter the style of parenting our peers are using is setting up a baseline of understanding- not only between mothers, but for our children.  Because, for our children to learn to respect others with wide variants on what we consider to be "normal" for our family, we need to be examples of this respect.

Going back to our playground scene above, in my mind- there is only one response that is effective.  I am honest and candid about my beliefs with my friend.  At the same time, though, I verbalize to her that she has to parent her children in the way most effective for her family, and as her friend- I support her in their path.

How do you avoid getting sucked into the "Mommy Wars?"

PHOTO: Thinkstock / The Bump