The Blog Mommy Wars: Arguing About Parenting

The Mommy Wars between work-outside-the-home and stay-at-home moms have been ongoing for years. But there’s a new breed of battle heating up on Social Media and blogs:  Moms arguing about parenting techniques. I received this message from a Mom this week:

“Charlotte, I value your advice and opinions in many areas and your blog is one that I ALWAYS read! There is an issue as a young mom that I am distressed about. There are a lot of blogs and posts on Facebook where young moms debate and argue over parenting styles and what is right and what is wrong! I have purposed to stay out of these debates and ugly exchanges but it hurts me to see other women hurting each other instead of building up and encouraging. Would you consider writing a post addressing this issue?”      ~ A Young Mom

It’s a good thing I didn’t have a blog when I was twenty-eight years old, because that was about the height of my smug certainty that I knew everything about mothering. I had four young children who were fairly compliant and I was sure that if other parents would just do as I did, why, they wouldn’t have any problems.

Then my fifth child was born.

His toddlerhood is funny now, but at the time I was in the throes of despair and frustration. At the age of 18 months he tore a board off the wooden fence and escaped to a neighbor’s house across a busy road. The police and other neighbors were not amused.

He used a permanent marker to scribble all over the brand new white computer keyboard. He refused to wear clothing in any color besides red and black. He had an opinion about everything and he didn’t forget, so he couldn’t be distracted in a restaurant or store. He did things that the first four children never dreamed of doing. And my foolproof parenting methods didn’t magically solve anything.

It was a very good lesson in humility for me. He was followed by seven younger siblings who taught me that the more children I had, the less I knew.

By the time my twelfth baby was born I was pretty sure I didn’t know a thing about parenting, so I don’t write much about it to this day.

But as a 53-year-old mother with seven grown children, I’ve observed a few things:

  • Those who voice their opinions the loudest are often the most insecure about their beliefs deep down. And have the least actual experience and long-term fruit to prove their point. Wisdom and experience tend to be quietly confident. 
  • Sure, there are tried and true principles for raising children. But until you’ve walked fifty miles in another parent’s shoes, you can’t really know what’s best for them. Circumstances, personal maturity and personalities do make a difference.
  • Moms whose oldest child is seventeen or under and still living at home have a different perspective than Moms whose children have left home, married and had children themselves.
  • Other parents’ choices are just that—their choices. The quickest way to make someone determined NOT to listen to you is to tell them they’re wrong. That’s just human nature. Affirm them where you can, live some life in front of them and let them come to you and ask.
  • Other parents will live with the consequences of their choices, both good and not-so-good. Let them. God does.
  • Methods of feeding and cloth diapers do not make a happy family.

I know this doesn’t really answer the dilemna of the Facebook and Blog Mommy Wars, and I am truly saddened by the ugliness. You know the old saying “Hurting people hurt people,” and that is probably at least partly responsible.

But since I don’t know anything about parenting I won’t be joining in or trying to referee.

By the way, our fifth child will graduate from college in a few weeks with a degree in Missions. That determination and creativity he displayed as a toddler will come in handy on the mission field. You can bet that I have a different perspective on what’s important than I did when he was two.

I’d love to hear what you think….please leave a comment…

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22 Comments

  1. I’m the mother of 3 adult children and just became a grandmother. I too “had it all figured out” with my first 2 then God decided I needed a reality check. The real challenge came when our 3rd child became a teen. She rebelled against every value we lived by. We had family & friends giving advise some asked for some not. Mostly what we heard was “tough love” which locked her out of our lives and her in the cold. We chose a more middle of the road attitude that stopped the flow of money but left the door of our home & hearts wide open to her. We endured 6-7 years of anxiety and worry for her. Today she is a wonderful woman serving in the US Army (which was her idea) soon to be deployed to Afghanistan in a front line cultural support role. She is married to a US Army Staff Sargent. She has apologized many times for her rebellious period and told us how grateful she is that we “loved her through it”. It is interesting she is my kid that calls to check in, check up and chat the most often. The funniest part is when she tells us that she thrives of the regime and discipline of the military. Raising children is rewarding but challenging, they do not arrive with manuals but…. I assure you that with prayer,;love and more prayer for guidance being a parent is the greatest job I have ever had. I am an RN and worked for 30 years full and part time with a very rewarding career.

  2. Oh, I live this, Charlotte! Such wise, wonderful, and encouraging words! I’ll remember this as I continue through my parenting years (I have 8 children, ages 12 down to 9 months).
    Would you please share your brisket preparation/recipe? With pictures! I’d love to make one for my large family someday. And I can’t wait to see the picture of everyone in their Easter finest!
    Thanks!
    –Gena at ichoosejoy.org

  3. Charlotte,
    Thanks for the article. As a 51 year old mother of four children (3 up and out and one in college), I could not agree more! It is a privilege to learn from our children and humility seems to be lesson number one…..for me anyway.

    I was also glad to see the three steps to staying consistent with t-tapp. Some times I feel a bit guilty for only doing BWO or BWO+. It’s my go to workout and has facilitated me in loosing from a snug size 12 to a size 6! I’m thrilled with the results but I HAVE been consistent and it pays off. Thanks of the encouragement to keep working what works.

    XOXO
    Janie

  4. Charlotte, you once again have such words of wisdom to share! I am a homeschooling mom who still has both of her kids at home, so I am still learning minute by minute. My firstborn was and is to this day the most difficult child I know. When she was younger we asked for advice from other parents of same age and more experienced parents. Praise the Lord no one treated us the same way these moms are treating each other on the social media sites. I am afraid I would have had a complete breakdown if someone had spoken some of these things I read online to my face. In my circles, the moms argue about box curriculum, math programs, Charlotte Mason vs. Classical, what time of day to do school, Santa, hiding Easter eggs, gluten free, essential oils, cleaning products, when and what extracurriculars, what age to start a “smart” child in homeschool. You name it, I can find a running judgement-fest for these topics and more! I believe social media may be removing some of the filters our mothers taught us about keeping quiet if you can’t say something nice. There is an air of anonymity that helps us to feel like we can say things we wouldn’t dream of saying to someone’s face. We all need to be careful when we speak online. Not only could it hurt someone else, but what is said is not protected information and could come around and hurt you back just as quickly.

  5. I don’t have as many children as you do but I have the same experience with parenting different personalities. The one that I grieved the most about and felt like a total failure as a Mom has now at the age of 25 stepped up to be a rock in my life. It’s so hard to see this when you’re in the midst of parenting a difficult child. Yes, I nursed him the same way and used the same type of diapers. 🙂 I hope this encourages young (and older) moms to seek God’s word for wisdom and be more attentive to parents they respect with children out of college. Their perspective might help them to reconsider some strong opinions. Thanks, Charlotte, for sharing!

  6. Interesting perspective from some more older moms, huh? Thank you for your comments from the heart!

  7. So refreshing!! Truly. Young mom with 4 kids and as a voracious reader sometimes I have been totally overwhelmed by all the good and differing advice. On everything under the sun. God has recently been setting me free from insecurity and fear of doing it all “wrong”… I love how you said “quiet confidence”. I have been the loud, bossy one before and am learning to WATCH for fruit more than listen to all the talking… in me and in others.

  8. Good stuff! I had the same experience, but the child who upset my apple cart was my fourth. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Charlotte, thank you so much for your post. As a mother of 3 children under 3 1/2, I feel lost a lot. In searching ways to deal with my 3 1/2 year old twin boys, and their high energy ways I found so many differing opinions, some of which are very strong and make me feel a bit of lousy mom. I am much younger than you but I love to read your blog posts and love the way you make everyone feel welcome. Thank you so much for your calm common sense approach!

  10. Thanks for this post! My oldest is almost 29 (finding that hard to believe!) and my youngest is 5, and I also don’t know anything about parenting. I have turned too often to others for advice, and God is teaching me to turn to Him and trust Him instead, and not to be so anxious over little things.

  11. Thank you so much for speaking grace into this phenomenon! My first born was my “crazy” child and I spent a long time berating myself and practically abusing him for his “differences”. The Meyers Briggs Personality stuff was a great tool that God used to change our life. I realized God had hard wired so much of that wonderful (but different than me!) stuff into him. He too is now a source or great joy to me in his walk with the Lord and his love for others. It is so easy to miss the fact that we have “gifts differing”! I appreciate you tackling these tough issues. Thanks for being Titus 2 for us all as you share you life and lessons!

  12. This was refreshing! My oldest will be 11 in a couple of months, and my youngest (#5) is 3 1/2. Each child’s personality is so vastly different, yet in some ways they are the same. My oldest was a typical little boy–curious, impulsive, busy–so when my youngest started doing many of the things that drove me crazy with my oldest, I wasn’t surprised–I knew that eventually he would calm down a little and my days would be less trying. HA! He has done things I wouldn’t have imagined my oldest doing, wreaking havoc just about every 30 minutes or so (well, it feels that way some days) but I know that one day, after he is grown, I will look back on these times and say “I wouldn’t change it for the world!” He is who God created him to be, and one day his life will shine for Christ.

  13. I loved this post! My 8 kids are 24 down to 6. No married kids or grandchildren yet, so I can’t say I’ve come to that deeper perspective, yet. But I know enough to be quiet. When younger moms come to me for advice, it’s usually in the form of pointing them to encouraging blogs and podcasts which have been such a help to me, and encouraging them to get together with other moms. I went through years of feeling I couldn’t have a social life due to being too busy raising children, and it led to perfectionistic thinking, always feeling like a failure because everyone else had it together. Thank you so much for allowing yourself to be vulnerable for the sake of others.

  14. Every child is different. My 9 year old daughter has had basically the same personality now has she did when she was born….drama and she doesn’t like surprises. I stayed frustrated as a first time mother that she wasn’t like the little girl next door, then it hit me one day when she was about 3 this is the way God made her. She has to go at things her own pace, not forced, she can be dramatic and head strong. So I adjusted my thinking in how to correct her and things got better. I accepted her for who God had created her to be.

  15. Amen! Thankfully #2 taught us humility in discipline early on. :-). #8 taught us about feeding issues. Thanks for encouraging young moms and not so young moms to be peacemakers, Charlotte!

  16. Nice to know I’ve got good company in knowing nothing about parenting, lol! Glad to encourage others on the journey!

  17. I’m an older Mom. All 5 are grown kids. #3 was our most difficult learning experience from the time he was born until he got married & I turned him over to his wonderful wife. Now he’s got 4 kids & is a great father. All the advice I got then to be tough on him was something I just couldn’t do. But he turned out well anyway.

    #5 who was a nice church-going kid now has a live-in girlfriend. But I have faith that he’ll eventually come back. Just have to love them in.

  18. The best advice I was given as a young Mom was to follow the Bible and your instincts and if you make mistakes with your children let them be your own mistakes and not someone else’s.

  19. Right on! I used to love reading all the parenting books and trying everything until I found what worked. I’m sure my kids will have much fodder for therapy when they get out from under this present reign of terror.

    My only advice for parents, trust your instincts.

    1. Haha, “reign of terror!” I feel that way, too, sometimes! Then by about Thanksgiving of my kids’ freshman year at college they come home and thank us for how we raised them. 🙂

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