How to Stop the Mommy Wars

_DSC8297As a mom who has gone through many evolutions of what I think it takes to successfully raise my own kids, I can relate to parents who are on many sides of the heated issues that the media loves to call the “mommy wars.” I’ve also seen several beloved moms groups split, fracture or completely implode due to where different people stand regarding these issues—even when the only people affected by the issue is the parent and child in question.

I hate that the media knows they can title anything with mommy wars and the clicks and comments and views come rolling in. They know it gets us, and that passion translates into ad dollars, which means more posts and stories and more angry exchanges over social media and eventually more lost friendships.

The problem with the mommy wars is twofold: First, social media is a relationship lens that removes boundaries. We can see and consume everything that is happening in front of us, and it gives us the illusion that we are included. Second, everything we consume is proliferated. So anything you read, comment on, or share is given new life. Every story you click on is like a starfish that you’re cutting legs off of and throwing back in the water—it multiplies. When you combine those things, it can be toxic.

With those two things in mind, here’s how you can stop the mommy wars:

  1. Don’t share or comment on things that are ignorant, trolling, or obviously one-sided just because they make you that angry. Clicks are clicks. No one cares if they are angry clicks. The only way to make stories or posts go away is to ignore them. No attention is the only way you win. It can be tempting to share things that make us mad, but when you do that, the person who put it out there wins.

    There’s no value in your opinion on it’s own. Do you have an experience, knowledge of a fact, or information that changes the story? Do you want to encourage the author? Then comment. Otherwise don’t.

  2.  Don’t give advice unless someone asks you for it. No one is ready to benefit from any one else’s experience until they ask for that wisdom. So, tempting as it may be, save your advice. Offer help, say you are there for them, offer to help them find resources, offer a listening ear, but let them ask you for what they need.
  3. Remove yourself from unhealthy relationships. There are people out there who just want to stir up trouble and make other people miserable. There are people who love drama and want it all the time. Create and maintain healthy boundaries in your relationships and back off of relationships that are not healthy.
  4. Remember to engage with people in person. Talking to people with whom you disagree is actually very healthy for your brain. You can see other people’s tone of voice, body language and hear their inflection. If your group or someone you are friends with are starting to get into it online, or if there’s a post or exchange you can’t stop thinking about, have a coffee date or moms night out and discuss the problem in person.
  5. Get to know people. A little compassion goes a long way in this world. We can’t and shouldn’t have to go around explaining our entire lives to everyone from acquaintances to complete strangers. Every time I see a post from Humans of New York it reminds me of the vast stories and experiences wandering around out there in each and every body that, if we only knew them, would inspire compassion and understanding. We can’t ever know those stories, nor are they any of our business, so the only alternative is to assume they exist and just treat other people accordingly.

I don’t think the mommy wars will ever go away. But by showing restraint, compassion, and just plain walking by when ignorance raises its ugly head, maybe, just maybe, we can push them to Page 2.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City.

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