The Great Mom Debate

You can read this study and wonder if you’ve made the right choice, the best choice, for your family.  You can think about the alternatives and long to be in the group that seems to have it all figured out.  You can let the guilt wash over you as you silently tally up the times you’ve felt isolated, depressed, or questioned your parenting skills or choices.

You can do all of that, but that won’t do you any good.

You can watch this upcoming TV segment and become enraged that such a segment even exits.  You can blame Anderson Cooper and lash out at the moms who willingly participated in a show that perpetuates the “mom wars” among us.  You can take to Twitter, Facebook, and Google + to air your grievances against Anderson Cooper, The Huffington Post, and any other “news” outlet joining the “mom wars” bandwagon.

You can do all of that too, but that probably won’t do you any good either.

The segments will air and the articles will be published.  They will say what they want to say and spin it to get more viewers.  As John Mayer once pointed out, “when they own the information, they can bend it all they want.”  That’s the power of media.

The real question is why does such a study even exist?  How did parenting become so difficult that more and more moms (and dads) are reporting symptoms of depression and anxiety and relying on medications?  When did life become so difficult? 

And, most importantly, what can we do to stop this cycle?

We are living in difficult economic times.  That is no longer considered news.  Most families include two working parents.  Many parents work more than one job to make ends meet.  Health insurance is not to be taken for granted.

Social isolation plays a big role in the world of the stay at home parent, particularly when the kids are very young.  Competition among moms is high for a variety of reasons.  Mom guilt lurks around every corner.  So does the financial guilt stay home moms experience when times are tough and the financial responsibility relies on the other parent.

Every parent has stress right now.  Every parent has happiness right now.  Every parent experiences a little bit of both.

The challenge is to find more support for parents everywhere (both working and non-working) so that fewer people experience symptoms of depression and anxiety overall.

Because the people who truly lose in all of this are our children.

Infants and children pick up on stress, depression, and anxiety.  Studies have shown depressed affect in infants of mothers struggling with depression.  Children imitate those symptoms.  They start to experience difficulty sleeping, low appetite, social isolation, frequent tantrums, and other behavior issues.  They don’t deserve any of this.  They deserve to roll down hills, run through the sand, and chase butterflies.  They deserve to experience the unbridled happiness that should be taken for granted during childhood.

If our kids grow up unhappy because we were too busy arguing, comparing, and wallowing in what could have been, then all of this is meaningless.  Our day-to-day lives might be very different, but our goals are probably very similar.  We all want to raise healthy, happy, well-adjusted kids who will one day go on to do the same.

Instead of focusing on the negative by arguing over who has it the best, who endures the most stress, or who is the “best” mom, I say we all band together and form a unified front against these so-called “mom wars”.

Because, at the end of the day, every mom has a similar story to tell.  Every mom has once been covered head to toe in vomit with a kid in each arm while willing the washing machine to work just a little bit faster.  Every mom has fought back tears when leaving a child behind for the first time.  And every mom has fought to protect their child in one way or another.  We are not that different, all of us moms.  In fact, we are very much the same.

So let’s make a deal:  Let’s agree to stand tall as a group and stop feeding into the “mom wars” frenzy.

Let’s:

Provide support to one another, because #allmomsrock.

Stop judging.

Help another mom in need.

Focus on the positive.

And…

Stand up against the “mom wars”.

We all have a story to tell.  Let’s share our stories and listen to the stories of others.  Let’s celebrate our differences and make every effort to learn something new along the way.  Let’s be the friends that we want our children to be.  Let’s stop this “war” and give the media one less topic to cover.

If Verizon Wireless customers all over this country can, in a single night, stop Verizon from adding extra charges to their wireless plans, just imagine what the moms can do if we really join forces.

And that, once again, brings us back to The Mom Code.

What do you say moms?  Are you with me?

 

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About Katie

Katie Hurley is a Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychotherapist and Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA. She works in private practice in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, writes for PBS Parents, Washington Post Parents, and the Huffington Post. She is the author of "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World" (Tarcher/Penguin, 2015) and the forthcoming "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" (Penguin Random House, 2018)

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  1. […] wise friend Katie Hurley, who writes over at Practical Parenting, blogged about this topic yesterday and when I asked her to share her thoughts on not only her post, but about the mommy wars on a […]

  2. […] the segment day approached, Mom-101 and Practical Katie wrote about it.  Post segment, Babble Salon Series conducted an online discussion on the subject […]