Suzanne Temple at Blessed Among Men has an absolutely wonderful post today on how we mothers can, purposefully or inadvertently, tear each other down when we see other moms making parenting decisions that are different than our own. She gives a specific example of how another mother questioned her decision to homeschool and assumed that Suzanne's choice was motivated by selfish reasons simply because it was different than how she chose to educate her own children. I'm sure all of us have felt similarly attacked at one time or another about the same (education) or a different parenting decision (such as diet, television watching, discipline, vaccinations, etc.).
Why do we mothers do this to each other?
I tend to be a very black and white person. I want there to be a right and a wrong way to attack a problem and, of course, I want to always choose the right way. But, with parenting, I have learned that there is gray everywhere. Gray stretching to the horizon in every direction as far as the eye can see with very few breaks that are clearly black or white. It has taken a lot of struggle, but I have come to accept this fact and have come to a couple of realizations.
1. Mothers know what is best for their own children. Barring extreme cases of abuse or neglect, most mothers know which gray option is the best one for them and their children. As mothers, we should respect each other's decisions, especially if they happen to be different than our own. Letting your child have a piece of candy, for example, is not question of faith or morals and so it may be right at some times and wrong at others. And, it may be right for some people and wrong for others. From the outside looking in, it is impossible for us to know what is right for someone else's family at that time.
2. We should trust ourselves and our decision making. Just because another mother chose the slate gray option does not mean that we should question our decision to go with the charcoal gray. Nor should we feel indirectly attacked. Remember, we know what is best for our families. God trusts us, we should learn to trust ourselves.
I've have used the word "we" throughout this post but I should probably go back and change them all to "I". Suzanne's post really spoke to me because I am the offender just as much as I am the victim. But, with God's grace I know I can change. That is one fact that is clearly black and white.