Shutting people up...

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-13-2007
Shutting people up...
Fri, 08-24-2012 - 4:00pm

Hi Everyone!

I have not posted in awhile, but DS is now 4 1/2 and we are expecting our second next month, this time a girl!

I am really excited but also anticipating the near constant stream of comments from people who don't agree with my parenting choices, and could really use some advice/words of support from like-minded mommies (and of course any good come-backs to negative comments are also appreciated!)

We have co-slept with DS since he was a few months old... we started him in a bassinette thing and he was up constantly! Then a few tmes I fell asleep while nursing him back to sleep, and he slept so much longer! I was actually coherent for a change! I mentioned to the pediatrician and she suggested we try co-sleeping. We did, and it worked immediately... we have not looked back and not regretted it. He is still in with us, sleeps thru the night, and has zero interest in his own room/bed, even though we bought him a new one. I am not worried... we'll find a way to make it work until he is ready.

For him, we actually got a crib but clearly it was never used. We actually got rid of it. So now that we are getting the room ready for #2, we are already getting questions about where is the crib, are we going to make this one sleep with us also, how is there room, when will we "let" DS sleep in his own room, blah blah blah. I do not understand why SO many people are so concerned!!

I have a co-sleeper that pulls up to the side of the bed, and I plan to use that for the few couple of months. We also have a bed rail that we used for DS -- I plan to put that back up when ready so I can have one kid on each side if they both want to be in there.

I am also already getting the questions about how long I plan to nurse this one. My answer is generally as long as she wants it, because that's just the way I feel... but then I get the comments about "letting" the kid eat real food (even though I still do other foods, I just nursed in addition!), and my mom has been telling me all of this info that formula now is better than it was and I really should try it. She actually asked my sister's pediatrician (who is apparently not as pro-BF as ours is) and called me from the office! I told her that is all well and good, but I liked nursing, was not pushing it on anyone else, but also did not want to spend the $$ on formula when I could nurse for free...

I am really tired of the comments and criticisms... it makes me NOT want to involve these people in my kids' lives because every single conversation comes back to how they think I am failing at parenthood! I can already feel myself pulling away a month before this one is even due to arrive because the constant criticism is just deflating!

I'm sorry to vent but could really use any advice or words of support that anyone can offer. I feel confident in my parenting choices, but that doesnt stop me from wanting to avoid the criticism of others when it is so blatant and constant. I try to let things go and roll off my back, but pregnancy does not make me any less sensitive/emotional than I already am!

Thanks in advance!




iVillage Member
Registered: 10-05-2003
Fri, 08-24-2012 - 9:10pm

I've found the easiest thing to do is just nod your head and pretend to listen to the "advice"! :smileywink: Nothing you say will change their minds, unfortunately, even when you do your best to explain your choices. Which is ridiculous, no one should have to explain their parenting choices, right?  :smileyhappy:

I'll be in your shoes soon, hopefully! We're TTC #2, Connor just turned 2 in May, so IF we get pregnant soon, he will be 3+ when the new baby comes along. He's currently bed sharing with us as well, and has since the day he was born (was in a bassinet beside the bed for the first few months.) He has/had his own nursery and crib, and has never slept in it ,which I hear crap from my Mom about it every so often. I keep thinking we will try to buy him a twin "big boy" bed and see if he wants to transition....but no rush! :smileyvery-happy:

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2008
Sat, 08-25-2012 - 12:03am

In my experience, criticism about about one's parenting choices from relatives, friends, or even strangers come from one of 3 different places. One big reason other parents (including those with adult children) criticize one's parenting style is that they do or did things much differently then you are doing and they interpret your choice to do it differently as saying they are or were a bad mother, especially if they have been mislead into believing their is only one right way to parent. This is especially true if they read or have been reading "parenting experts" who seem to believe their way is the only right way to parent. In some case the issue is that they realize deep down inside that the way they parented leaved much to be desired but rather then simply admit should have done things differently they get defensive and attach other parenting styles. If this is the main issue then I would try one or more of the following:

1. Make it clear that simply because you parent differently then them does not mean you feel they were bad parents and that you believe their is more then right one way to parent. For anyone who doesn't believe their is more then one right way to parent, may I suggest that you at least pretend you believe that in the name of being diplomatic and trying to avoid having to hear constant criticism of your parenting.

2. Try to appeal to their sense of having the right to parent as they see best and ask them how they would feel if someone whose parenting style was much different then their kept haranguing them for not following their style. Try to get them to see things from your POV. Maybe if they realize they wouldn't want the tables turned with you making constant remarks about them using a crib or stroller, not breastfeeding till their child self weans, etc. then they tamper down their remarks. 

3. In extreme cases, where it gets so bad that can't stand to have them around then you may need to issue an ultimatum. Threaten to not see them any more (in the case of a friend) or cut off access to your child/children (in the cases of your mom/MIL, dad/DIL or relatives). Hopefully the will make the choice to still be your friend or to see they grandchild/niece/cousin rather then continue with the criticisms. In extreme cases when dealing with your parents, in-laws, or relatives, you have to look out for the psychological wellbeing of your, your DH, and your child/children and constant extreme criticism is not in your families best interest. While it unfortunate if you have to cut off your parents/in-laws or relatives from seeing their grandchild, niece or cousin, it's in everyone's best interest. If they want to regain that privilege they can agree to keep their criticisms to themselves bu hold them to that promise though and cut off access again immediately if they start up again.

Now sometimes the issue is simply one of ignorance. In the case of AP parenting practices and AP in general, a lot of people have misconception about it that may lead them to believe that your really not doing the best for your child. Trying to educate such people can help if there open to hearing what you have to say. This can be especially true of a friend who doesn't yet have children and thus doesn't yet have any reason to be threatened by your parenting style and thus is usually going more on misinformation they have heard when it comes to criticisms. If they don't appear open to to being educated then you may have to resort to trying to get them to agree to disagree on this issue.

Now one last reason some people constantly criticize other's parenting style and practices is a genuine belief that such a style or practices are not in the best interest of the child, parents, or both. In such cases they really believe they are looking our for your or your baby's best interest. In such cases, your not going to get them to change their views or even accept that their is more then one right way to parent in whatever particular parenting issues they disagree with and such your going to have to take a different approach with them. What I would do is one or more of the following:

1. Make it clear that your not violating any laws and thus your free to parent as you see fit. Tell them that while you recognize they genuinely disagree with your parenting style or practices and they have ever right to to, that you genuinely disagree with their POV on this issue and see no chance of that changing anytime soon. Try to convince them that their criticisms are going to fall on deaf ears and will ultimately be futile. Try and get them simply agree to disagree.

2. Try and get them to see things from the opposite POV and imagine what it would be like if the tables where turned and their parenting was the one on trial here. Would they want constant criticism of their parenting style or practices by someone who, no matter how genuinely held it was, believed their style or practices where wrong or harmful to them or the child or both? Many mainstream parenting critics of AP parenting practices come from an environment where their parenting style is the norm and thus they have never had others harshly criticizing them for their parenting choices so they have no experience in what it's like from other side. 

3. You could try and present information on why you choose the parenting style or practices you did that they disagree with and hope that maybe they will reconsider their views or at least come to an understanding that you have researched the choices you made and didn't just follow them blindly. Then they might at least come to accept your choices as your right to make even if they don't agree with them. I know personally that as a BF promoter I am more bothered by someone who choose to formula-feed based on ignorance rather someone who does extensive research and comes to the conclusion that FF is best for them. Even if they based their decision on something I disagree with such as believing the benefits of breastfeeding are only slight and that other factors are more important in the decision, at least I feel better that they made a informed decision.

Now some other tactics that might work for any critic no matter what their motive is are:

1. Make a joke about it such as I'll wean him or not wear him when he graduates from collage, gets married, or some other ridiculous scenario. For example, "Are you still breastfeeding?" can be answered with "No, I finished our most recent  breastfeeding session an hour ago".

2. Try and change the subject. Say something like "That's nice. Now have you tried the bean dip? It's quit good." or "That's nice, Now did you see that last game of the [Fill in your favorite sports team here]?" or "That's nice. So how about that weather were having lately?"

3. Ignore them and pretend like you didn't hear them. If they ask you again, move on to a different subject. Make it clear your not going to address their questions or complaints.

4. Set up ground rules about being around each other with rule rule #1 being that we don't criticize each others parenting styles or practices around each other. This is especially beneficial if the critic in question is also a parent of baby or child . Much like the rule many families have that says you don't bring up religion or politics at the dinner table, especially when extended family/relatives are over.

5. it's OK as a last resort to just get angry at them and tell them off in no uncertain terms. Tell the in no uncertain terms your getting tired of hearing their criticisms, nothing they will say will change tour mind, and maybe they should just accept that if you haven't change your ways up till now that further criticisms are not going to be any more effective. Tell them they have no right to see you are your child if you don't want to let them nor do you have to come over and visit with them if you choose not to. Make it clear that if they don't stop criticizing you then you may have to resort to that.


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-13-2007
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 1:36pm

Thank you both! I appreciate the insight...

I do agree that it is likely that people don't understand... and you bring up a good point with the issue of my mom. Perhaps she does feel like I am telling her that her way was "wrong." I have tried to be very considerate in listening to others' opinions, and I am quick to say that my choices may not be right for others, nor do I feel that there is a right vs wrong, but that our choices (because luckily my husband agrees with me!) are working for us.

I do wish there was a way to educate people a little more without giving them a book and telling them to read it! there are too many negative stories in the news about breastfeeding and co-sleeping, and that is unfortunately what these people choose to focus on. Even when I try to explain some of the benefits of extended nursing, or co-sleeping, or whatever... All I get in return is didn;t I hear about that mother who rolled over and suffocated her baby (not, of course, acknowledging that the mother was also drugged, drunk or whatever)

I just think people go to the extremes in their "what if" scenarios (like what if the kid never weans, or still wants to sleep with you when he is in high school, etc)... not taking into consideration that what they are saying is a little extreme, and way too far off for us to even consider worrying about! When my son weaned himself at the age of 3, I wanted to rub it in the faces of all of those people who nagged me about nursing him "forever", when in my mind, those 3 years went by in the blink of an eye.

Sometimes I am just tired of taking the high road, absorbing all of the criticism, and knowing that everyone thinks i am crazy.... I'd jsut like for ONCE these others to acknowledge that there are different choices to be made, we are all going to do things different, and there is no right or wrong!



iVillage Member
Registered: 08-13-2007
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 1:39pm

Oh best of luck in TTC #2! It took us awhile, but all worked out in the end. My son is super excited to be a big brother and is already telling me all of the things he plans to teach her. (He said he would teach her how to cuddle with mama, if she didn;t know how, but he thinks she will just know because it is easy :smileyhappy:)

I know you don't look forward to the criticism any more than I do (My favorite was everyone constantly asking me how on earth we managed to accomplish that with our son still in bed with us... )...  but it will be worth it.

I may make a small sign for the bassinet in the hospital that says "no formula", not only as a reminder to nurses, but just to piss the people off who immediately ask me if they can feed them a bottle and why am I nursing!



Community Leader
Registered: 04-18-2003
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 3:04pm

2. Try and change the subject. Say something like "That's nice. Now have you tried the bean dip? It's quit good." or "That's nice, Now did you see that last game of the [Fill in your favorite sports team here]?" or "That's nice. So how about that weather were having lately?"

:womanvery-happy: I'm glad that one is being spread around. It's my favourite bit of advice. Over the years I've said that this is how we feel is the best way to parent for our family dynamics. If we feel Dr. Benjamin Sears method is not working for us, we know we can come to the person for advice. Of course so far we haven't bailed on the Dr. Sears method, LOL!

Seriously, we've had to explain that it's not Attachment Babying, it's Attachment Parenting, which means it's a way of parenting, not a method of taking care of a baby. We rarely spank, preferring non-physical means of discipline.  We do our best to have firm and fair rules. We respect the fact that our son is getting older and wants to spend time playing wtih other kids;however we still have family time. Bed time still involves some cuddle time and there are a few times when DS will come in around 5 a.m, flop down on his dad's side of the bed (closest side to the door) and sleep until his dad gets out of bed. Cough cough, of course he does respect that fact that siince hs parents are 44 years old, they sometimes like to take an afternoon nap on a Saturday or Sunday and lock the door so he doesn't startle us awake. :smileywink:


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-28-2006
Thu, 09-13-2012 - 10:20pm
Oh my word! I'm sorry I don't have anything helpful to say or add but I just want you to know that I feel for you and I think these people giving you a hard time are just awful. I'm seething for you.

Maybe the only one liner I can come up with is "my child, my choice"

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