I have seen mothers at their best, and I have seen mothers at their worst.
At our best, mothers unite. We fight for each others’ rights, each others’ kids, each others’ protection, each others’ security. When a fellow mother is worried, we soothe. When a fellow mother is uncertain, we guide. When a fellow mother is about to break from the pressure of it all, we support.
At our worst, mothers fight. We dig proverbial nails into flesh, we criticize, we belittle, we verbally abuse. We align ourselves into teams – pro-this and anti-that – and red-faced, we roar at the mothers on the wrong side of the field. We take offense and we attack. We are fierce in our battles.
And we can do all of these things – our very best things, and our very worst things – from behind our screens. We’ve all seen it. The angry debates on the same hot-button topics every day of the week. The Facebook post of a mother judging another mother. The online groups dedicated to treating the mothers who disagree with a particular stance as though they are mentally challenged, and unfit to raise their own children.
Why do we battle so fiercely? Why do we mothers pit against each other in these never ending mummy-wars?
I believe it comes down to two things:
- We believe, unquestioningly, that we are right.
- We want to persuade others to agree with us.
It’s the essence of any debate really. The problem is, these debates aren’t the classy affairs I grew accustomed to in my private high school social studies class.There’s name-calling. Personal attacks. Smugness. Defensiveness. And we all walk away emotionally fraught and without having converted a single soul to our side.
The battle, it tears us all down. It does nothing to serve any of us; the fighters, the defenders, the onlookers posting popcorn memes in the comments. Even when we go in with the best of intentions, the frustration of having not converted anyone to our side coupled with the hurt from acid-tongued responses to our well-meaning comment can ruin our day. These online battles are rabbit-holes, and though we see time and time again that there are never any winners, we still try to win. We try to prove that we’re the smartest mums, the most rational mums, and the real kicker? The mums who love their kids more than our opponents love theirs.
And that, right there, is the reason I believe the battle hurts so much. Because the undertone to every hotly debated parenting issue is this:
I feel strongly about this because I believe it’s the best decision for my children, and I love my children more than life itself.
When a stance is attached to love, and that stance is questioned, it feels like your love is being questioned. When you’re treated like an idiot for feeling strongly about something that affects your children, it feels like your love for your children isn’t being taken seriously.
Every mother entering into this battle does so because by protecting her stance, she is protecting her right to parent the way she believes is best. She is protecting her children. And what mother wouldn’t lay her life down for her children?
The problem is not that as mothers, we feel strongly about certain issues. The problem is in how we express those strong feelings. Have you ever had your mind changed on a deep-seated stance in your soul via an online battle? Have you ever witnessed a battle in which a mother went from fighting tooth and nail, to typing the genuine sentiment, “Wow, now that you have beaten me and my opinion down to a bloody pulp on the floor, I see that you’re right”?
The fact is, human beings were made in love, and we respond to love more than anything else. The most logical argument in the world can fall on deaf ears if its delivery is snarky and condescending. And even if the validity of that argument can’t be ignored, nobody would ever want to give their opponent the satisfaction of such ugly tactics chipping away at their resolve, and so arms draw tighter over chests. Hearts close.
People need respect, not condescension. They need to be validated, not belittled.
As a mother, of course I wish that some mothers would change their minds on certain things. Just like any mother, there are things that I feel strongly about. There are decisions I have made to keep my son (and future children) safe, and unfortunately not everyone makes those same decisions. Do I want to engage in battle when I see a Facebook comment section explode on certain topics? Yep. But I don’t, because ultimately, I believe the battle hurts more than helps.
I have seen mothers change their minds on some big issues. And each time it happens, it’s not because they finally “saw the light” during an ugly online battle. It happens because a fellow mother has befriended her, gently taken her hand, validated her, and cautiously, over time, offered a differing opinion, even evidence, in bite-sized pieces that she could handle. And when her mind was changed, there was no gloating, no smug congratulations, just love.
This isn’t a magical formula that will change anyone’s mind on anything, let me be clear. But in general, battle closes hearts. And love opens them.
Mothers, lay your weapons down. Sheathe your swords. Lower your shields. Stand side-by-side on this battle ground, not toe-to-toe. Because we’re battling on behalf of our children enough in this world. We may as well stop battling each other.
(This post really captures my heart for She the Fierce. It is my vision for this to be a place of love more than anything else. If you haven’t already, please read our About Us page)
Klara is the founder of She the Fierce. She lives in Perth, Western Australia and is married to a Californian IT-nerd/carpentry dabbler/handyman extreme, Chris. They have one gorgeous, long-lashed little boy, Jackson, and their fur-babies include two dogs and one fat black cat. Klara is a (mostly) stay-at-home Mum with a background in finance and admin. She’s a Christian who loves singing, cooking, cups of tea, grey rainy days, scrapbooking and suggesting spectacular renovation and handyman projects to Chris!