Please Stop Judging When Your Opinion Isn’t Taken.

Over the past twenty-something weeks, Joe and I have been bombarded with opinions, practical solutions, and suggestions from people who claim they know what’s best because they’ve been through it before.

Let me let you in on a little secret: just because you’ve been there, done that, does not mean you know what’s best.

I wanted to address the topics of social pressures and judgment this week frankly because we now live in a world where if we don’t take the opinion of a friend or family member and run with it, they get butt-hurt and cut ties before we ever have a chance to explain our reasoning behind our choices.

Can I state that again? These are our choices, people. Not yours.

If you don’t know where I’m going with this, let me tell it to you straight: one of my biggest pet peeves is unwarranted advice, whether that be because I’m a new mom, a recent college graduate still trying to establish my career (even though I already have five years of experience in my field), or simply what many would call a “newlywed” who doesn’t really know my husband yet (although we’ve known each other now for twelve years, dated twice, and now have been married for almost two years).

*takes deep breath*

Recently it has come to my attention that there are loads of opinions on breastfeeding, traditional roles in parenting, and even what products to buy for your baby when. And not only are there opinions, there are overarching concerns that if you don’t follow those opinions, you are somehow inherently hurting your baby and preventing them from fully developing and maturing into the best versions of themselves.

Can I just stop right there and tell those “suggestions” TO SHUT THE HECK UP AND LEAVE THE ROOM??

I’d like to address each of the three issues I just stated individually from a slightly Biblical perspective, but also simply in a way that I personally believe Jesus is calling Joe and I to live. So let’s get at it and dig deep together! But please remember, these are simply our thoughts on these issues. Our ideals may not be right for you and your situation, and we know that’s totally okay!

1. The Dreaded Judgment of Breastfeeding

I was talking with Joe yesterday about this, and we realized two things that directly contradict what many people claim is “extra important” when it comes to breastfeeding babies from the start:

  • health problems can arise from not breastfeeding
    • neither one of us were breastfed, and neither one of us have health problems that contributed from not being breastfed
    • references the WHO and AAP with an interesting take on this topic
  • lack of brain development from not breastfeeding
    • neither one of us were impacted by “lack of brain development”
    • WebMD addresses this
    • NCBI addresses ARA and DHA in formula as having the same impact on brain development as breastmilk

If you’ve known me for a while, you can agree that I love to research and be informed on topics that often times are centered around controversial topics, this one being one of the most researched medically as well.

To set the record straight, I do not have any excuses for not wanting to breastfeed, and I also don’t have anything against breastfeeding. So, to get the assumptions out of the way: NO. I am not under-educated. We have spoken with medical professionals, talked to our own parents, and sought advice from friends who both breastfed and who formula-fed to gain better perspectives from both sides of the spectrum.

I really love the perspective of Jill Simonian from the TODAY show. She wrote an incredibly vulnerable article about her journey with breastfeeding and formula feeding, and was not only conscious of how tough both sides can be, but also understood the medical side of the issue due to her husband being in the pediatric field.

Since my time as a new mom, a few more realizations have hit me: If adoptive parents and gay couples can feed their children with formula and new working moms can enlist childcare to help them raise their babies while they’re at work, then any new mom can also say no breastfeeding and take advantage of safe, FDA-approved formula to feed her baby without judgment or shame from others. We all have the right to our choices, as long as our choices aren’t flat-out dangerous to those involved.

Jill Simonian, Why Opting Out of Breastfeeding Was the Best Thing I Did

She understands that not everyone agreed with her decision, but her main emphasis was on the fact that we should not be judging others just because they aren’t doing exactly what we did.

So next time someone comes to you in confidence because they don’t feel supported in their choice to do {whatever}, don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that they aren’t educated. They may be more informed than you ever were.

2. Dealing with Non-Traditional Parenting Roles

To say the least, my husband and I are not the traditional couple! I make more money in the household, pay the mortgage, and often times work more hours throughout the week. Joe works 3-4 days a week, but works 12 hour shifts because he works at a hospital (Riverside Methodist to be exact!), so he is often times home during the week more than I am.

Because of our strange schedules, I am not always the one making dinner. Joe normally doesn’t get home from work until around 8:00PM, so if I beat him home, I’m the one slaving away in the kitchen late at night. However, if he doesn’t work that day, I’m the one that comes home to open arms and hot food on the table!

Due to this interesting position, we had to sit down and have some serious conversations about how childcare and parenting was going to work. Realizing that Joe was going to be the one actually spending time with our new baby more than myself, we decided to compromise and get childcare part-time so regardless of when his schedule changes, we always have a place for our little nugget!

I’ll be honest with y’all. It can be really tough dealing with pushback from traditional families in the capital-C Church. We are often met with questions that sound much like the following:

Well, what if he picks up more shifts so you can stay at home?
Are you really sure that’s going to be best for you?
How is that even going to work? Are you sure that’s really where God is calling you?

Trust me when I say I’d love to have a traditional family dynamic and never have to worry about both of us working full-time. But you know what? It’s okay we don’t have that! We personally believe God gave us this relationship and formed it this way for a reason, and even if others don’t see it, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t line up with the Bible.

Friends, remember this: God is always intentional, even if we don’t agree with it.

3. Sorting Through the Stuff

If you haven’t had children yet, let me let you in on a little secret: there is so much crap to sort through when you are having a baby! The gadgets, gear, products, recommendations; they can all be terribly overwhelming!

When we first found out we were pregnant, Joe and I literally walked around our house looking at the lack of storage our tiny home offers. We wanted all this stuff and to listen to experts, friends and family about what worked best for them, but we quickly saw how unrealistic that was going to be.

The more we thought about it, the more we researched. Articles spoke about how although toys can be really great for growing minds, often times simple things or a lower quantity can also be just as great! Becoming Minimalist has a great take on this:

Toys are not merely playthings. Toys form the building blocks for our child’s future. They teach our children about the world and about themselves. They send messages and communicate values. And thus, wise parents think about what foundation is being laid by the toys that are given to their kids.

Joshua Becker, Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids

Even our parents were on board because we all realized that twenty-five years ago, none of the parents that raised us had what we have today, and we totally ended up fine!

So yes, if you have the space, go for it! Grab that massive pack-n-play and the fourteen play mats! Just don’t be shocked when you walk into our home and you don’t find them too.

Friends, hear me out: just because someone is doing something you don’t agree with, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, struggles with different things, and has to combat them in some way, shape or form.

You may have been there, done that, but let’s be honest with ourselves: we haven’t. Our stories are NEVER exactly the same. Some of us don’t have the time, the patience, or the interest. Some of us don’t have the capability. And you know what? That’s okay!

So stop rolling your eyes when you see someone doing something you don’t necessarily agree with. It’s alright for them to do things differently than you because, well, they aren’t you. And every time you set expectations for others, you’re bound to be disappointed.

And that’s NOT how God calls us to live our lives.