Last week, Elita at Blacktating.com wrote a post about an upcoming book that came across her desk. (She works for the library system and is therefore, even more of a hero to me.) Anyway, the book is entitiled: Is Breast Best?: Taking on the Breastfeeding Experts and the New High Stakes of Motherhood. I am not going to discuss the book here because Elita does a good job on her page, but I am going to give my hypothesis as to why we are still dealing with these mommy wars.
Now, mind you, I am not a social scientist and everything that follows is essentially out of my head but bear with me here. I am thirty years old (born in 1980) and if you are my age, or younger, you might remember the phenomenon of “Everybody plays, everybody wins.” (In fact, it might still be happening.) The basic idea was, in the realm of sports specifically, every child on the team got a chance to play and everybody got a trophy. The basis of this was the question of how losing would affect a child’s self-esteem and it seemed to have been determined that the self-esteem of children is so fragile that it must be protected from any hits at all costs. But let’s look at the fruits of this labor:
-Helicopter Parents: We have a whole generation of parent afraid of letting their kids make mistakes or getting hurt that they will hover near by and swoop in as soon as a danger (real or imaginary) presents itself. Now, don’t get me wrong, if your kid is in bodily harm- swoop, swoop away, but if your kid is over the age of 18… it’s time to stop swooping.
-I know a woman who is a Nursing Professor, teaching graduate level nursing courses here in Missouri and she has had to field irate phone calls and emails from the parents of her students (mind you, this is graduate school so these students are at least 22 years old.) These phone calls are usually to discuss/ argue against bad grades. Because of the privacy act, the professor is not allowed to discuss the grades with the parent, but that does not sway them.
-Many people, my age or younger, are afraid of making mistakes because of the Everybody plays, Everybody Wins mentality and as a result, we have the Mommy Wars. We have a group of parents who grew up being told that they could do no wrong and that they were perfect in every why that when they encounter a teaching or philosophy that is counter to their own held beliefs the effort is put forth to discount/ disprove that counter-philosophy.
So, let’s get back to this book:
A big problem people have with pro-breastfeeding campaigns is the notion that “Breast is best” or “Breastmilk is a superior infant food.” The author of the book is taking the opposite approach and defends formula as being just as good as breastmilk, however this assertion is false. Formula is not and never will be just as good as breastmilk. It just won’t. Look at it this way:
Statement A: A potato from the garden is superior to processed, fast food french fries. French Fries will fill you up and keep you from being hungry, but it is not the same as the potato. Manufacturers try their best to make the french fry nutritionally equal to the potato but as close as they come, it’s still a french fry and not a potato.
Can you argue with the above statement as being false? Now, I love french fries and I could eat them at every meal, but of course I don’t because that would not be good for me. So let’s read that statement again with some substitutions:
Statement B: Breastmilk is superior to Formula. Formula will fill you up and keep you from being hungry, but it is not the same as Breastmilk. Manufacturers try their best to make formula nutritionally equal to the breastmilk but as close as they come, it’s still formula and not breastmilk.
While most people would not call statement A false, there would be plenty out there to say that statement B is false, even though the only change was in 2 words.
So, where am I going with this? Breastmilk, Formula, Homeschool, Vaccines, Fast Food, Juice, Wooden Toys, etc., etc., what ever parenting choices you make you have to be confident that you made the right decision for your family. My SIL hated breastfeeding and therefore did not continue very long. My SIL is a strong, confident woman and knows that she did the right thing for her family. But she also knows that formula is not the same as breastmilk and is not going to convince herself otherwise. What is right for my family is not right for my BFF’s family and we need to stop pretending that every family is the same in every way.
But with that said, breastfeeding advocates are not going to stop giving the facts about the nutritional superiority of breastmilk because there are mamas and mamas-to-be out there who are still deciding and discerning what feeding method is right for them and they deserve all of the facts. Maybe what we all need is a little dose of humility and we need to stop trying to be the best at everything. After all, in this life not everybody is going to play and win but once we are with Jesus and get our crowns, all of this stuff will just be noise.
So what are your thoughts? Are you a Helicopter Parent? Was “Everybody Plays, Everybody Wins” a good thing for us? Are we, as parents, just neurotic?
As an aside, this is my 100th post!! If you’ve been reading all along, thanks! If you are a new reader, there are 99 other pretty good ideas to read!