(Lindsay submitted this article to Motley Moms, which kindly saves me from blogging on an already crazy, over-scheduled day. Thanks, Lindsay!!! -Donna)
As parents we all have to make choices for our families. Breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping, rocking to sleep vs. crying it out, etc.
Many of the choices are made after discussions with our husbands and we do what works best for our families. Some choices are made because we have researched and decided it is the best option for us. I choose to breastfeed for this reason. Some choices are made out of convenience...like picking up a pizza on your way home from a busy day. Some choices are made to save money or be "green"...this is why I choose to cloth diaper and use vinegar to clean with. Some choices are made based on our interpretation of the bible...which is why I choose to spank my kids (on occasion). And sometimes we go with "tradition"...on Sunday night it's "Eat-Anything-You-Want Night" (meaning if it's in the house, you can have it for dinner, even if that means popcorn and cereal), because that's something I did as a kid and LOVED.
As a new parent, I used to get defensive when I heard that someone else had made a very different parenting choice than I had made. I wanted to explain to them why I thought my choice was "best." I felt like their choosing something else meant they weren't well-informed. I also sometimes felt guilty because I made a different choice. For example, I don't buy organic food (most of the time). It's just not something I am overly concerned about. I do try to make healthy choices: veggies and fruit in our diet as much as I can, not buying sugary processed foods, and getting my kids to drink mostly water. But even then I break my "rules" and get cookies from the bakery on a whim just for fun.
What I have learned is that most of our choices don't really matter in the long run. My husband's grandfather is 91 yrs old. He has eaten high-fat, fried, made-with-real-butter, made-with-white-flour, smothered-in-gravy foods his whole life. He has also gotten plenty of exercise and eaten all those things in moderation. He still works on the farm every single day at 91 yrs old. While I think breastfeeding is important, that's not on job applications when you are an adult. I have a friend who fed their child nothing but peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a whole year because he "refused" anything else. He is now almost 7 and a perfectly healthy, happy, well-adjusted kid. I wouldn't have chosen to do that myself, but he is fine despite what I "think."
The point of all of that is this: As parents we make the best choices for our own family that we can. However, we will all run into someone at some point who has made different choices, and that doesn't necessarily make either of us right or wrong. And since we all know how difficult it can be to raise kids, especially small kids, we all need to be supportive of each other and not judgmental. My choices are best for my family, your choices are best for your family, and I won't criticize you if you won't criticize me. :)