I have lots of opinions about things. I always have. I don’t care for the word ‘opinionated’ – it suggests having opinions is a bad thing. And it’s not. Having an opinion or a position on a certain topic is important. Especially if that opinion is well thought through and not just something you heard once and sounded like something that you should think.
There are things I feel really strongly about. Fairness. Equality. Human rights. The environment. I am the type of person that likes to take action. As a child I had regular correspondence with the Prime Minister; ‘What are you going to do about the starving children in Ethiopia?’ I wrote. And while I waited for a reply I send my pocket money to Oxfam.
During my career I had lots of opinions too. It was my job to have opinions, to listen, to advise. I sat in my office and dished out my opinions to anyone foolish enough to cross the threshold. To be honest, I was mostly winging it.
When I became a mother I developed very strong opinions about certain parenting styles. I subscribed to Facebook pages that promoted the ideas I favored. I joined in with discussions. I tsked and tutted when I read posts from mothers who chose different paths. I judged them. I often thought of joining the debate and typed furiously, something always stopped me pressing that send button.
When I left the corporate world I left all my skills and experience behind me. For a while my life revolved around my newborn baby, every waking moment was consumed with the little soul I had brought into the world. And so I accumulated knowledge in a new field – motherhood.
When friends had babies I tried to keep my opinions to myself, but often found myself making reference to things I’d read. I expect I was fairly annoying (to be really honest, I probably still am), but in a funny way I felt that my parenting opinions were all I had to offer.
Sometimes other mothers share their opinions with me. And that’s ok. But I’m not especially receptive when those opinions are about my children and the way I do things.
“You should…bla bla bla” or “You shouldn’t…bla bla bla”
People can be fiercely defensive of their opinions. Sometimes this means doing everything possible to recruit others to the same line of thinking. Sometimes it means critisising the alternative point of view. Sadly, for some this means attacking those who chose a different path with vicious and highly personal comments.
That’s all well and good when we’re talking about issues of global importance. But the personal decisions women around the world are making about their own children is really nothing to get worked up about.
As the years have gone by and my children have grown I have learned to keep my opinions to myself and accept that the way other people bring up their children has bugger all to do with me.
I have realised that motherhood is a learning curve, and no matter which path we take we’re all going to be wrestling with a limb flailing, tantrum throwing toddler sooner or later.
Let’s talk about the different approaches to parenting. Let’s debate. Let’s listen to each other. And, at the end of the day, unless someone asks you for it, keep your views to yourself.