WHITNEY: Similac shows us we’re all in it together
Are you a baby-wearing parent or is the click-in-click-out car seat your best friend?
Breast or formula? Cloth or disposable? Attachment or authoritarian?
Parents tend to self-divide along these lines, as if we’re still stuck in the cafeteria caste system formed in high school.
Finally, someone is calling us out on this.
Similac, the baby formula company, recently released its “The Mother ‘Hood” commercial, which depicts parents squabbling on the playground about who’s child-rearing methods are best.
The working moms show up in power suits. The eco-wise moms practice yoga while wearing their babies in soft slings. One insufferable lady boasts of her “drug-free pool birth, dolphin assisted.” The dads chill near the grill and, when one mom insists they’re with their kids because it’s “mommy’s day off,” the biggest bro of them all shouts, “Hey, that’s sexist!”
And so it goes, until one mom’s stroller goes rolling down a hill and they all leap into action to rescue the baby and then comfort each other after the ordeal.
The scene closes with the message, “No matter what our beliefs, we’re parents first.”
That’s the kind of corporate messaging I can stand behind.
We get kind of impassioned about our parenting decisions, and it makes sense when you think about it. The stakes are much higher.
This isn’t like choosing what to watch on Netflix tonight, a decision that, at it’s worst, will result in you getting bored.
If you choose to give your crying kid a pacifier, will that mean he never properly learns to self-soothe? Will he grow up to be an insomniac? What about those bottles? Should you worry that the plastic will break down and introduce toxins that might result in cancer later in life? (This is intentional hyperbole. Do your research on this stuff, please!)
There’s a small argument to be made for the idea that you don’t have any choice, really. Unless you invent a baby-toting device of your own, your “philosophical, ideological choices” are limited to what’s available in stores. That’s kind of how this capitalism thing works. You buy what you’re sold, unless you choose to opt out. The identity you choose is directly influenced by what the market offers. So, in a way, the choice has already been partially made for you.
Right? Or is that another column? I can’t criticize the system too much since I’m an obvious consumer of what “They” are selling as I’m writing again about a commercial I saw on TV.
Anyway, my point is this: Your choices about how you parent don’t make you better or worse than anyone else. Whatever parental identity you choose to assume (or purchase, as it may well be) is fine, so long as it works for you and your family and meshes well with your values.
I think it’s time to redefine parental success as raising a child who is happy, loved, bonded to you and, God willing, able to grow up healthy (while realizing that health isn’t always within our control and lack thereof isn’t necessarily an indicator of parental failure).
Let’s all be on the same team.
Stop judging each other. War is over. We’re all in this together.