Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mothers, Let's Be Nice

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Being a mother has made me a better person. I am no doubt a better person today than I was a little over 7 years ago. What has motherhood done for you as a person--what has it done for your character development?

Think about that for a moment before you continue on. What is your answer to that question?

Here is my answer. Motherhood has helped me develop charity. Oh, I think I have a long way to go on the charity front, but motherhood has catapulted my progress. Charity is the pure love of Christ (for more on Charity, see my post here). Through being a mother, I have learned to worry about myself less and put the needs of others before my own. I have learned pure, unconditional love. I have realized all children are precious in the sight of God, and I apply the term "children" to all of humanity. Most everyone has a mother whose heart aches when her sweet child is the target of criticism, ostracism, and pain. That makes me want to treat everyone with a pure love. 

And I would feel comfortable saying the vast majority of mothers out there have felt the same effect. Being a mother softens us. It makes us better people all around. Not only does it bring us great joy, but it helps us grow into better people.

Of course, because it is such a powerful teaching tool, there is immense opposition against the role of mother. Whether it be demeaning the role or talking women out of pursuing the role or it be turning mothers against each other.

"There is no one right way to be a mother." M. Russell Ballard.

I believe this statement to be true. And yet we mothers are incredibly critical of each other. Why? Maybe some feel insecure in their own abilities and choices as a mother. Maybe some have a false, puffed up sense of their own abilities and are convinced their own way is the only acceptable way. I am sure many simply give in to the temptation put before them to be critical of mothers. This criticism, bickering, and self-righteousness directly negates the wonderful qualities we are learning as mothers. You develop more charity, and then you criticize some mother because she does something you think is wrong and you let that seed just grow within you. 

Why do we do this to each other? Because we are humans and have weaknesses. We give in to them.

I would like to issue a challenge to us all. Let us work on ourselves (not our neighbors and not that woman we find so annoying in that one chat room) to nurture the charity and squash the cattiness. Let's make "There is no one right way to be a mother" our mantra.

I have many good friends who are mothers with children around the ages of my children. We all share very similar core values--we share a religion and we  happen to overall share parenting philosophies. Despite our many similarities, we all have many things we do differently than each other. And that is okay! That isn't something that needs to intimidate anyone else. We might have different discipline strategies, bedtime routines, times of day we read scriptures, etc. There is nothing wrong with that.

There is no one right way to be a mother.

We all do what we think is best for our children. And we all have individual children. Around the world, we will vary from each other quite a bit. Some of us will follow feeding schedules. Some will demand feed. Some will have consistent nap times and places. Others will let naps happen when and where they may. Some will feed breastmilk and others will feed formula. Some will allow hours of television and others will banish television all together. 

The list goes on forever. There are so many things we will be different on. There is no need to feel defensive if someone parents differently from you. If you feel good that the choice you are making is the right one for your family, it is not a problem if Suzi down the street has an opposite method that she thinks is right for her family. Being different doesn't make one of you wrong and one right. It makes you different mothers in different families parenting different children.

So let's step back and say to ourselves, there is no one right way to be a mother. I will not criticize and I will not feel the need to defend myself. Let's give each other the benefit of the doubt that we are all doing what we feel is best for our individual children. Let's allow ourselves to grow into the amazing women we can be if we allow charity to take over our hearts. Let's do these things even if Suzi remains in the slums of arguing, bashing, defending, and offending. 

Let's do it.

9 comments:

abcdfamily said...

Awesome post! I would say, in a similar vein of thought, that motherhood has helped me to have more grace... towards other parents, my children, random people I meet, and even myself! The second child has made me doubly so (I found out that I didn't know quite as much as I thought I knew!)

Plowmanators said...

lol--that is so true. I found adding a third did the same--she has some unique quirks that aren't found in my first two. I am sure the fourth will only add to it.

Emily said...

wonderful post! it saddens me SO much that women are always put in a spot where we have to defend ourselves and the choices we make. It's so sad that we can't all be united in our wonderful role as mothers!!! I think a lot of it goes back to feeling inferior, like you mentioned. You are SO blessed to have a group of friends who share your belief system and have a similar parenting style. That's a difficult combo to find for sure and I'm thankful for those friendships in my life as well. But it is also a blessing to have those friends who do differ in parenting styles (for one, mama's who don't schedule can hang out whenever and revolve around our schedule haha!). I love learning new things from other people and I hope that many of your readers take this post to heart. Thank you!!!

Emily said...

wonderful post! it saddens me SO much that women are always put in a spot where we have to defend ourselves and the choices we make. It's so sad that we can't all be united in our wonderful role as mothers!!! I think a lot of it goes back to feeling inferior, like you mentioned. You are SO blessed to have a group of friends who share your belief system and have a similar parenting style. That's a difficult combo to find for sure and I'm thankful for those friendships in my life as well. But it is also a blessing to have those friends who do differ in parenting styles (for one, mama's who don't schedule can hang out whenever and revolve around our schedule haha!). I love learning new things from other people and I hope that many of your readers take this post to heart. Thank you!!!

Aubrey Jane said...

Great insights, thank you for stating it so well! I think the thing that surprised me most when I became a mother was this very issue. I had no idea there were "parenting wars" about things that I thought were simply matters of opinion and personal choice. I agree that we all need to try a little harder to be a little kinder!

Kristy Powers said...

"you let that seed just grow within you"

What a perfect metaphor, Valerie. I think when we get on a kick of criticizing, the tendency toward negativity does grow within us. But when we get into a pattern of graciousness and love, that also grows within us. Thank you for the reminder to get into that second pattern.

juggler said...

Thank you for this post and for this challenge to us all. I have very few people around me who have adopted a similar parenting style and I guess I do feel quite insecure and defensive as a result. But I need to remember that we've made the right choices for our family and to allow others to make the right choices for their families. I'm slightly terrified about what will happen when (God willing) a second child is added to the mix, as everything has gone so smoothly with number one. But I keep being reminded that God's grace is sufficient. I guess we'll adapt, make new decisions and learn more charity!

Meg said...

Amen sister!

Kelli said...

Yes, a good reminder, and a tricky issue. I think one of the reasons it is easy to fall prey to criticizing other mothers is when their children's behavior affects our children. I was recently appalled at the response of a group of mothers toward another whose children they felt were "out of control"--it came down to public confrontation, and subsequent ostracization. It is understandable to get your hackles up when another kid attacks yours, but there are also more charitable, nonjudgemental ways to handle it, I think, with the other parent hopefully in private.

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