Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Armchair Experts

I was fortunate enough to be breastfed until I self weaned at around 18 months old. I've spoken to my mother about this and whether she encountered any negative attitudes from others. She said that she didn't and just continued feeding me because it seemed to be the natural thing. I still wanted milk and she still wanted to feed me. When one day I proclaimed 'No gack', that was where it finished. It wasn't anyone else's business.

Many people now seem to see the parenting choices of others as very much their business. I have a theory about partly why this may be. Over the past 10 years, television programmes have sprung up showing parents who are struggling with their children. Sleeping, eating and behaviour problems are all held up for scrutiny by the in show experts, and for us. We are encouraged to be armchair experts, sagely shaking our heads at the glaring mistakes these foolish parents are making.

We forget that these are television shows, edited and cut together to make good TV that fits the pattern. We have no knowledge of a back story of these families, nor have we a right to know, because it isn't for us to judge. Unfortunately, that is what we are encouraged to do, and it begins to spread out into the real world. What right have we to judge the parenting choices of others? I am convinced of the benefits of attachment parenting and believe it is the right way to bring up my daughter, but if another parent follows, for example, the Gina Ford approach, who am I to criticise? It isn't any of my business. If anyone asks me my opinion, I am more than happy to explain my reasons for the way I raise my daughter, but otherwise, I must learn to keep my mouth shut and allow others the freedom to get on with being a parent and hope that others will have the same respect for me.

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