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First time mum to be. How do you keep your parenting choices a secret?

(29 Posts)
bumbleclat Sat 09-Jul-16 07:59:45

I have been working with children and families for 17 years in many different contexts and my degree is in early child development so in some ways I have had the opportunity to make lots of decisions about how I do or do not want to go about things when I have my own...

I want to be able to make these choices without having to explain, defend, feel judged and basically lose connection with friends because of how I want to do things.

I'm not a preachy kind of person and have been a Buddhist for many years without banging on about it to friends, family colleagues. I hate being preached at so am worried that because parenting choices e.g. Extended breast feeding are so in your face because a friend coming round for a cuppa will definitely know that that's what you're doing or if we stay with family and I'm co sleeping etc they'll think that I'm ' making a rod for my own back' blah blah.

I'm worried about my choices isolating me from the lovely, sensible people I like to spend time with.

I want to feel accepted and understood for my choices but I used to nanny for a lady who had a whole group of 'attachment parent friends' and I did find them all a bit earnest, serious and judges of parents who for example went back to work straight away etc.

I suppose I'm worried that from what I've seen, there's so much judgement from everyone that Ill feel like hiding away and if might be a lonely time.

Sorry for rambling.

PeaceNotPieces Sat 09-Jul-16 08:03:43

If you have lovely, sensible friends you won't be isolated.

Good look with your baby and trust/believe in yourself.

Parenting is a minefield. You're lucky that you've had experience in the 'field'. They'll always be people who judge or criticise - you have to ignore it and ignore them.

cheminotte Sat 09-Jul-16 08:10:45

In the nicest possible way, I think you might be over thinking this OP . In my experience, if you don't preach about your choices then others won't judge you either. I breastfed 2 dc, used reusable nappies, did elimination communication and baby led weaning but I'm still friends with my friends who formula fed from birth, used disposable and didn't potty train until age 3.

AThousandTears Sat 09-Jul-16 08:11:40

When someone comments on anything you say, "OK, thanks for your concern".

Then carry on.

Dairybanrion Sat 09-Jul-16 08:12:25

You might be overthinking it a small bit.
You don't defend your choices. It's not their business. If you feed for 2 years you feed. It's no one else's business. I wouldn't shout it from the rooftops either but just quietly do your own thing and say nothing.
No need to defend your choices or explain.
By defending your choices you make it seem like they need to be justified. They don't.
Good friends won't mind if you feed for years.

jollyjester Sat 09-Jul-16 08:13:12

Everyone will have their opinion on how things should be done but whatever you feel works best for you and baby should be the most important.

Just practice your nod and smile and say "thank you but I've decided to do x, y or z"

I had to do this A LOT!

Congratulations and good luck!

Sleeperandthespindle Sat 09-Jul-16 08:18:21

I just didn't talk about these things. I just did them. I did hear lots of parents evangelising about their choices (lived in a very 'alternative' town) but just got on with my own way.

AuntieStella Sat 09-Jul-16 08:20:35

I think you need to stop making assumptions about other people.

Always useful to smile and nod.

And don't look too far ahead. Looking after other people's DC or studying the theory of child rearing and development are jolly useful in their way, but not like having a child of your own. Make your choices only when a choice needs to be made.

RadicalPessimist Sat 09-Jul-16 08:22:44

You don't have to keep your choices a secret! You are way overthinking it. I know it sometimes seems on MN that baby groups are hotbeds of cliquiness and bitching but that wasn't my experience at all. I made lovely friends who didn't judge me for any of my parenting choices even though we all did different things. Some of us co slept, some breastfed into toddlerhood, some formula fed. Some went back to work, others didn't. It was all good. I did encounter the occasional person who wasn't my cup of tea but no problem really. I just didn't see her again.

WorldsBiggestGrotbag Sat 09-Jul-16 08:25:33

Like the others say, I think you may be overthinking it. Just do what you want to do and don't preach about it. I genuinely find people don't bat an eyelid at other people's choices unless others are evangelical or defensive about it.
Good luck!

RadicalPessimist Sat 09-Jul-16 08:26:01

I should add that I breastfed my first DD until she was a toddler. The rest of my NCT group weaned at 6 months. I went back to work when DD was 8 months while they took longer off. There was no judgement. We were all nice people and we did things differently that's all.

MyBreadIsEggy Sat 09-Jul-16 08:33:38

In the nicest way possible....You're definitely over thinking this OP.
You don't need to explain yourself to anyone.
My mother doesn't agree with many of my parenting choices, and tries to undermine them at every opportunity with passive aggressive comments made using my baby as the proxy in the conversation hmm for example cooing at my Dd: "Oh you'll never learn to sleep through the night if mama keeps putting you in her bed will you?". I'm very much in the "thanks for your concern Mother, but she's fine" camp.
Personal parenting choices are not a great topic for conversation in a group because someone always thinks their choices are far superior to everyone else's, so IME its best just left alone!

luckiestgirl Sat 09-Jul-16 08:37:09

In my experience people don't tend to judge. And if they do, I don't tend to mind too much. As long as you're secure in your choices then you might find you're not really bothered if people pass comment.

branofthemist Sat 09-Jul-16 08:40:51

OP you will be judged by some people. All parents (especially mothers) are.

I have been judged for not baptising my baby, working, co sleeping (first) not co-sleeping (second hated co sleeping, still does) , not having jumper a roo (still don't know what one is). And all manner of stupid things.

When it comes to parenting, personally I don't care what people do. Are their kids loved and taken care of? If so, I don't care how different it is to how they do it.

Every child and family is different. Ds needed different parenting to Dd.

You won't be preaching and telling people they are wrong, if they are different. So I suggest you pay attention to those who judge you and realise they are dick heads who do this to make themselves feel better.

I am so much happier now I totally ignore people who judge me. A couple of people have been told straight. But on the whole they 'that's nice dear'.

You don't have to keep anything secret. If people end up disliking you because of your choices. That's their problem.

idontlikealdi Sat 09-Jul-16 08:41:52

Smile and nod, smile and nod.

No matter what you do or don't do there will be wools that have a different opinion.

Just carry on doing what you want to do.

idontlikealdi Sat 09-Jul-16 08:41:53

Smile and nod, smile and nod.

No matter what you do or don't do there will be wools that have a different opinion.

Just carry on doing what you want to do.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Sat 09-Jul-16 08:45:36

I doubt the majority of people you come into contact with will even care.

I think you've made the mistake of thinking the frothy threads on MN reflect real life wink

Finola1step Sat 09-Jul-16 08:53:40

Congratulations flowers

Some people will comment and judge. Some people will not be at all interested.

Just do what is right for you and the baby on a day to day basis. If you don't blow your own trumpet then you don't invite comments.

Anyone who does make uncomfortable comments and judgments are people you will probably want to distance yourself from anyway.

junebirthdaygirl Sat 09-Jul-16 09:08:50

Just do whatever you want and as long as you don't go on and on about it most people won't care. I have friends who never breastfed a day and others who fed until 3 and all in between and nobody cared.
One thing l will say is be open-minded until baby comes along as the best laid plans can be scuppered by a week old baby who can upend everything.

DavidPuddy Sat 09-Jul-16 09:08:52

If you are confident in your choices you won't feel the need to defend them. You just get on with it.

bumbleclat Sat 09-Jul-16 09:29:13

Thank you so much, I do have a tendency to over think and perhaps I need to just forge ahead and not worry what people think.
Thank you all flowers

GinIsIn Sat 09-Jul-16 09:42:29

Currently expecting DC1 and I am not planning on making any parenting choices at all in advance - more just planning to see how we go and take it from there. Nod, smile, ignore the bollocks and try to remember the bits that are useful is my plan and I think that's enough. I don't want to set myself up to fail or be under massive amounts of pressure by overthinking it all in advance and feeling a failure if I don't manage to do it the way I thought I might. Maybe you need to just relax a bit and see what happens - there's no point overthinking things that are currently purely hypothetical.

switswoo81 Sat 09-Jul-16 11:10:58

My best friend bed shares, mine has never slept with me once . We both made parenting choices based on the personalities of the babies we were given. Proper friends don't judge things that don't harm your baby.

Dixiechick17 Sat 09-Jul-16 11:29:13

I've experienced numerous raised eyebrows, they bothered me in the first few months, but now it's like water off a ducks back. No matter what choices you make, you just can't please everyone and you need to remember it's just you, partner and baby that need to be happy and comfortable with your choices, not anyone else.

BertieBotts Sat 09-Jul-16 11:54:19

Bless you smile

Yes I do think you are overthinking - but only to an extent. Sorry this ended up really long!

I don't think you will annoy people by just making the parenting choices which are right for you. Unfortunately sometimes (and I completely did this) it can be easy to fall into a way of thinking when DC are very little that there is one particular way that is better than other ways. You might say "Oh I don't judge others at all" but secretly you still think that the choice you make is the best way to do it, assuming that others make different choices because they don't know any better, and it can come out in the way that you speak about it. It can also be the case that you end up in a little "bubble" of "this is our way and everyone else is just not like us" which is actually really unhelpful as it cuts you off both from forming friendships outside the bubble and from considering other approaches, which often can actually be helpful. It's silly to write something off just because one part of it didn't appeal to you at one point.

You also (and I'm sure this will come as no surprise grin pregnancy hormones being no stranger to you at this point) tend to feel very vulnerable when your baby is little and quite emotionally, not fragile, but thin perhaps. It's very easy for something relatively innocent to tip you into feeling strongly this way or that. It can be hard to hide those emotions. Likewise, an innocent comment from another person can sometimes make you feel defensive, even though they didn't mean any criticism by it at all.

Lastly if you have decided on very set prescriptive things being the "best" way to do things (whether best for your situation or best for mothers/babies in general) just be aware that if it doesn't happen that way for some reason, you can end up feeling quite down about it. Not everything is under your control, and it helps to be okay with that.

So what to take from it - there is absolutely no need to keep your parenting decisions secret. It is however courteous not to expect other people to be interested in them. (Unless, obviously, you're having a conversation about parenting decisions!) I have changed my stance on this a bit but now I would never share articles on facebook etc which talk about a way of doing something as though it is the only possible choice and everything else is wrong. There is a lot of guilt in parenting already, and people are only trying to do the best according to what they believe and what other things they have going on. I've come to realise that there is actually a massive range of acceptable parenting practices, even including some things that are completely unacceptable in this country or that I personally would never, ever consider. The exceptions are any kind of abuse or neglect, of course.

It can be really useful if you find yourself thinking that another parenting practice you wouldn't choose is undesirable in some way to try and work out what it is that would make that practice desirable, practical, necessary etc. Whether somebody's situation is different to yours, their priorities are different to yours, or they are working off a different information set (which might not necessarily be less valid than yours). Rather than just writing something off, try to consider why someone might choose it. It just helps you be more tolerant and keep things in perspective. (It also helps with the guilt if you find out that the way you'd planned to do something actually doesn't work for you in practice.) Nb, it doesn't tend to go down well if you ask the question directly of mothers or on internet forums e.g. "I just don't understand why anybody would choose to [insert parenting practice here]". "Tell me what you decided to do in X area/situation, and what helped you come to that decision" is MUCH more neutral and doesn't imply that persons choosing X option are acting completely irrationally.

Lastly realise that people commenting or offering advice are, generally, just excited about babies and really want to share the things that they loved about babies and welcome you into the parenting "club". They aren't actually criticising or (most of the time) even judging you. They are just reminiscing about their experience. Sometimes they are curious, especially if you end up finding that you do a lot of things outside of the "norm" or you're always adopting the latest thing that parents of older children might not have heard of. When people come across something they have never heard of before they tend to ask questions and sometimes throw doubt at it because it's outside of their experience. Try to see it as curiosity rather than demands to prove yourself and these things will be easier to handle. Especially if you get into the "bubble" mindset I mentioned earlier, it can be easy to fall into a trap of thinking that there are "us" parents and "them" parents, and every time you encounter a mindset or suggestion which falls outside the doctrine of the "us" you see it as a hostile attack designed to make you forget your silly, unnecessary demands of the "us" group and join the sensible parents in the "them" group. It's just not like that. Most of the time when people make comments, express surprise, ask questions, make suggestions or talk about how they do something it's not that they think you should do exactly the same as them, and it doesn't mean that you need to explain or defend yourself. They are just sharing their experience, or asking you to share yours and that is all.

This ended up really long, but it's what I wish I had known before I had DS. I was completely in the "bubble", and I was totally unprepared for the way I'd feel about comments, that, looking back, where nowhere near as hostile as I was interpreting them. I also cringe at how I dismissed advice out of hand which actually might have been relevant to me if I'd just actually thought about it or considered it properly. Yes, you will get unwanted advice, but you can smile and nod and ignore it, or discuss it if you wish. At the end of the day, it's your baby, your family, you're the mum. You (and your partner if you have one) get to decide. And short of abuse or sustained neglect, nothing that you do or try is going to harm your baby irreparably. Love them first and it will come right.

I wish you all the best with it smile

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