I have really been struggling to write lately. There are so many things I passionately believe in; I love to read and talk and write about things like pregnancy, birth, and parenting. So it only makes sense to do so on my blog.
But some other blog posts and articles I've read recently in various places have given me pause. I've been seeing a lot of well-meaning information, research, and thoughts put out there but expressed in such a condescending or judgmental way. And I find this really frustrating.
I think it's so important for parents to be able to access the information needed to make truly informed decisions, and I believe that many OB/GYNs, pediatricians, and parenting publications often provide only one side of the story while telling us it's all we need to know to be fully informed. And so I definitely believe in getting the "other" information out there. The problem is that it's so often done in a way that feels like guilt-tripping and condescension all wrapped up in a pretty package that says, "I'm just trying to help!" Both "sides" use research to support their claims and use language that make people feel like bad parents if they don't measure up to whatever that particular side is saying about that particular issue.
I can hear people saying now, "But you said yourself that people need to have access to information that will allow them to make truly fully informed choices! If we care about the issues and the parents and the babies, we need to speak up!" And I agree-- but in the context of love and support. Unfortunately, a lot of times it feels like people are bombarded with information and expectations in a way that feels less like love and support and more like piling more and more burdens upon people's backs.
But it's a balance that can be hard to find, especially when it's complicated by the very real situations in which people feel judged even if nothing judgmental was said or intended. So some people end up tiptoeing around, afraid to say anything at all out of fear of unintentionally offending someone, and some people end up saying, "Screw it, I'll just say what I think and people can deal with it!" I don't think either approach is all that helpful, though.
My mind keeps coming back to speaking the truth in love. I think it's okay to share research and information and our own thoughts and experiences, but it's so important to pause and ask ourselves if our motivation is really love. If we're saying it in hopes that other people will see how wrong they've been and how right we are, that isn't very loving. If we're saying it as a way to passively-aggressively comment on other people's choices, that isn't very loving. And I'll be honest enough to admit I have said things in the past with a less-than-loving motive, and I am truly sorry. So often when people are passionate about something, it is easy to start caring more about the issue than about people, and I have definitely been guilty of that before.
So in the midst of all the passion and concern and research and information, let's remember that the people around us are real people with unique circumstances and struggles. Instead of bombarding everyone we know (and even people we don't know) with ideals and "shoulds," let's form relationships with people, get to know their situations, love them, and empathize with them.