This parenting thing seems to bring out our judgmental and defensive bests. Every decision is fraught with choices and there is a huge need to justify and defend the choices we make and to prove all other possible choices and opinions wrong... And there are always equally good arguments for both sides of every parenting fence leaving you confused before you choose and mildly discontent and unsure when you do (or maybe that's just me?). Here are some of those choices and the judgments that come part and parcel with each of them...
If you bottle feed your children, you are screwing with their immunity and IQ. If you breastfeed, you have to go through the year wondering if the kid is getting enough nutrition and feeling bad that he doesn't look half as plump as the bonny, formula-fed babies, whose mothers have the benefit of knowing exactly how many ounces their child is getting.
If you vaccinate, you are unnecessarily pumping your kid's body with possibly dangerous biological material, interfering with his natural immunity and even putting him at risk of developing autism. If you don't vaccinate, you are irresponsibly putting your child at risk from potentially life-threatening diseases and also putting other kids at risk by reducing the herd immunity that everyone benefits from.
If you let your daughter play with dolls and kitchen sets, you are reinforcing gender stereotypes. If you don't, you are suppressing her natural instincts.
If you are a working mother, you are a neglectful, bad parent who puts her career before her god-given duty to her family. If you chuck it all up to stay at home with your kids, you risk becoming branded an empty-headed housewife who has given up her ambitions and wasted the investment that went into her education.
If you encourage your child to colour within the lines, you are inhibiting his creativity. If you just let him draw as he pleases, you are not teaching him the right way to do things.
If you send your kid to a traditional school (the kind you went to), you are not moving with the times. If you send him to one of those new-age schools, you are risking his future on something not yet proven to be successful.
If you turn to modern medicine for every cough and cold, you are destroying your child's natural immunity. If you follow slower and less effective remedies (home remedies, homeopathy), you are putting your faith in unproven stuff and making your child suffer needlessly.
If you don't allow them the 3Cs (chips, chocolates and cola), they will grow up to crave and binge on the stuff. If you do let them eat the poisonous stuff, they will grow up to be unhealthy and overweight.
If you stick to a schedule, you are not spontaneous enough. If you go with the flow, you are not providing a reassuring routine so that the child knows what to expect.
If you entertain him at mealtimes to get him to eat, you are not teaching him to eat food for food's sake and he's probably too distracted to realize and learn when to stop and is likely to have weight issues as an adult. If you don't, you are not making mealtimes fun and possibly under-feeding him.
If you worry a lot, you are paranoid. If you don't, you don't care enough or are not careful enough.
If you follow the Ferber method, you are a cruel parent perpetrating child abuse. If you rocking them to sleep, you are not teaching them to self-soothe and develop good sleeping habits.
If you don't shop for the baby till it is born, you are being stupidly superstitious. If you do, you are tempting fate.
If you have your kids at a younger age, you haven't given enough time for your marriage to mature. If you decide to postpone parenthood, you are risking genetic defects and you will be a doddering antique when your kid is an energetic teen.
If you tell them to respond to bullies in the same coin, you are teaching them to be agressive. If you tell them not to hit back, you are not teaching them to defend themselves. If you interfere in a bullying incident, you not letting them learn to cope by themselves. But if you don't step in, you are abandoning them.
If you spank your children, it's child abuse. If you don't, it's a case of "Spare the rod, spoil the child".
I'm sure there are many choices that I am missing. But my point is just that almost everything you do as a parent these days has become a choice. And the line between the choices is sharply drawn and your choice immediately brands you as a good or bad parent. And parents become almost rabid about not just defending their choice but even about attempting to convert others to their side of the fence. Since when did we go and make it all so complicated? I think we need a lot less of 'My Way Or The Highway' and a lot more of 'Live and Let Live'...