For years, parents- but more specifically mothers- have been at war with each other on almost every single parenting topic you could imagine. Vaccines, circumcision, formula, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, independent sleeping, baby food, unmedicated birth, planned medicated inductions, c-sections, baby toys, screen time, homeschooling, public school, working moms, stay-at-home moms, and now...masks. Hop on to any "mom group" on Facebook and you will see it. Trust me, you won't have to look very hard. Passionate mothers and keyboard warriors of all beliefs, backgrounds, and parenting styles, attacking each other like vicious sharks during a feeding frenzy.
Have you ever seen Mean Girls? Sure you have! Remember the scene in the lunch cafeteria when Cady (played by Lindsay Lohan), envisions all of the people prowling around like predators in Africa, preying on the nerds, band geeks and students they feel their social reputation threatened by? Yeah...that's how mom groups can be. Not all of them, but most. And to be fair, I try to attribute the intense mommy wars to the love and dedication we all have as parents to doing the best we can for our children according to our beliefs. There is no doubt about how fiercely protective mothers are of their children- even when their methods contradict yours.
Covid-19 has elevated the "mommy wars" to a level I could not have imagined. And I've seen some things. So what are the latest debates? Parents everywhere are feeling overwhelmed, scared, emotionally drained, and helpless about not only the future but this coming school year.
So here's when the wars start. Half of the moms feel very strongly about the importance of masks to protect their children, teachers, and family members at home. They feel that social distancing, sanitizing, and mask-wearing is imperative to staying healthy while maintaining the pace of their education. These parents strongly defend the CDC, WHO, and other public officials in the medical system, and government recommendations.
The other half of moms feel that children can't possibly develop in a healthy way emotionally and academically, in an environment where they aren't able to share toys, touch their friends, breathe outside of a mask, and interact with their peers like they're used to. These moms likely find caution in these medical and public health organizations because of the conflicting and back-and-forth information regarding Covid-19 recommendations, and the funding behind these organizations. Not only that, but they believe that requiring masks is an infringement on the freedom to choose.
So...what's the big deal? What makes this war different than others? Well, there's no easy compromise. Many other wars don't actually affect anyone else's children. Do you want to bottle feed? Cool! Do you want to circumcise? Doesn't affect my kid! The mask debate, however, is different. If every parent made their own choices about whether or not to send their child to school with or without a mask, those decisions do matter. They do affect things. If half of the children didn't wear masks, the other half of parents would live in fear and paranoia about their children's health. On the flip side, the mothers who don't want masks, have to worry about the judgment that may come from the other side. And let's be honest, most Americans do not have the privilege of homeschooling due to the need for dual-income to pay their most basic bills. Even the parents who HAVE the financial ability to home school, may not actually want that. AND, we can't exclude the reality that many children have single parents. So what about them? They don't have a choice!
What makes this even worse, is that it is an election year. Coincidence?
We are being divided as people on all topics (race, religion, politics, masks, and just about anything else you could imagine). I HATE election years. Relationships permanently end, and people become polarized instead of unified.
I don't have the answer to this debate, and quite honestly I have mixed feelings about this all.
But I will say this. There is strength in unity. And power behind grace. Can we please stop the name-calling and accusations? Can we stop telling parents that their children are suffering because their parents are making the choices they feel is best?
Postpartum Anxiety and Depression rates have soared since Covid first hit. Gee, I wonder why. Not only do we have the normal difficulties associated with parenting, but we not have the heightened anxieties of Covid-19, and everything that comes along with that.
So again, I do not have the answers, but I implore each and every one of you to simply...care. Care about your words and the way they can affect others. Care about the children that are listening to what you say. Just...care! So, the next time you see a war in a mom group, go out of your way to actively listen instead of instantly dismissing, AND tell someone they are doing a great job. And by the way, YOU are a good parent. YOU are making hard decisions for your family, and are doing a great job.
Author: Mariah Palrang