There are some parenting topics that are guaranteed to spark fierce debates and ruffle feathers.
Especially when they are argued about on social media where everyone’s barriers are down. Many people say things they would never normally say to someone’s face.
These controversial topics can pit parents against one another, causing many to end up angry and upset along the way.
The truth is that parenting doesn’t come with a manual and we’re all just doing our best to figure what works and even more importantly what works for us. What does well for one family or with one child might be completely different for another.
The only thing that’s for certain is that parenting is hard enough without all the added grief of arguing with other parents over the decisions you make for your children.
And a lot of mums would feel less isolated if they had other mums supporting and encouraging them.
So to get started, here are our top 10 controversial parenting topics:
Breast vs bottle
Perhaps the number one topic guaranteed to spark the fiercest debate. At one extreme the ‘lactivists’ stick fiercely to the mantra that ‘Breast is Best’.
In the other corner those that chose bottle over boob for whatever reason, are fed up of feeling like they’ve failed at the first hurdle of parenting.
This debate has been raging since the invention of formula and we feel it might rage until the end of time.
Babies need feeding. Does it really matter if one mum chooses boob over bottle or vice versa?
Judging mums over how they choose to feed their babies is just wrong. Enough already.
Ear piercing in babies and toddlers
There’s nothing that can make parents take a sharp intake of breath more than when they see a photo of a baby or toddler with her ears pierced.
No sooner than a photo appears on social media, do outraged comments flood in.
A petition to ban ear piercing for babies and toddlers has amassed nearly 90,000 signatures on the campaign site 38 degrees. In the blurb the campaign states:
It is a form of child cruelty. Severe pain and fear is inflicted upon infants unnecessarily. It serves no purpose other than to satisfy the parent’s vanity. Other forms of physically harming children are illegal- this should be no different.
Ouch. Pretty strong stuff.
Natural birth vs C-sections
You would think that all any parent would want when push comes to shove (or, indeed, in this case doesn’t) is that babies are delivered safely into this world.
But, it turns out, how you give birth can become a fierce point for debate.
Mums who have a caesarean are accused of being ‘too posh to push’, or of ‘taking the easy option’.
Some have their birth trivialised when it’s called a ‘trap-door delivery’.
All conveniently brushing over the fact that it involves major abdominal surgery with a long recovery time.
Birth is not a competition.
Reins for toddlers
If you have a well behaved toddler who will hold your hand and take care crossing roads and who never runs off then it’s all too easy to be disparaging about toddler reins.
Many view them as ‘leashes for little ones’ and inhumane restraints used by lazy parents.
It’s probably best to keep schtum until you’ve walked a mile in another parent’s shoes.
Especially if you have to walk this mile with a toddler hell bent on launching himself into oncoming traffic at any given opportunity.
When to start weaning
Another hotly debated parenting topic. Muddled by the fact that we, as parents were probably weaned at 4 months and show no adverse signs as adults. Now official advice is to wait until 6 months.
Even if your baby is showing signs of hunger, no longer sleeping through the night, draining their milk feeds in minutes while asking for more and grabbing your hand as you reach for food or salivating as you eat a steak?
But if another parent grabs wind of the fact that you’ve introduced purees before 6 months you can soon feel like a bit of a pariah at your local baby and toddler group.
Breast is best. Many parents shout this loud and proud. Except when it goes past a certain age.
When TIME magazine had a cover shoot showing a mum breastfeeding her 3 year old son they were launched into a media storm.
People found the sight of an older toddler breastfeeding abhorrent.
The mum on the cover, Jamie Lynne Grumet, said:
He nurses because I am his warm, safe place. This is what works for us. You may do things differently. Neither of us is more extreme or better than the other.
Who are we to argue with that? Especially when it doesn’t impact whatsoever on our own parenting decisions.
Sleep training and co-sleeping
Sleep. It’s the holy grail of parenting. But if your baby or toddler thinks sleep is for the weak and has you up several times until you feel you will unravel, what do you do?
One solution is to start sleep training and the other, to let your child sleep next to you in bed. But doing so can open yourself up to a wasp’s nest of criticism and you might find yourself accused of either child cruelty or of giving in too easily.
A recent survey revealed that over half of all new mums lie about co-sleeping for fear of being judged. One mum said:
I lied. I just told my health visitor that my baby sleeps fine. The truth is that she sleeps fine if she’s always in total body contact with me. At six months she still sleeps across my body in bed.
As for letting your child cry a little and then resettle a respected 2016 study; concluded in the finding that the practice had not long term negative impact on children and that:
Conclusion: Do what works best for you and your child.
We couldn’t have said it better.
Kissing your child on the lips
This one might be a surprise to some. After all – what on earth is wrong about kissing your child?
But kissing your child on the lips is a topic that has sparked fierce debate on social media in the past few years.
Even celebs are not immune to backlash. David Beckham waded into a media storm for posting a snap of himself kissing his daughter Harper on the lips, when she was 7. He was called ‘wrong’, ‘sick’ and ‘weird’.
It seems we can’t even kiss our kids now without controversy.
It’s thought of as weird and something that hippy parents choose. But recently the benefits of home schooling are a bit more understood.
So many children for so many reasons fail to thrive at school and for them, homeschooling can be a good alternative.
There are now numerous online courses, home schooling groups and virtual classrooms to engage children who would otherwise struggle or fail at a mainstream school.
Home schooled kids can learn at their own pace, can have a wider education and can be as sociable and as happy as schooled children. The only thing that stands in their way is the misplaced stigma.
Nowadays we post thousands of photos of our children on social media. We share the good times, the bad times, the cringe moments and the hilarious bits of parenthood.
But what happens when our kids grow up? Will they be annoyed at having every aspect of their early years posted online?
Will they ever feel angry that their parents shared every tiny detail of their early years for Uncle Tom Cobbly and all to read and comment upon?
Some parents love sharing and others feel it’s wrong. The debate rages on.
So remember to be kind.
Other parents are dealing with issues and child behaviour that we know nothing about.
All that matters is that our children are loved. We can skip the rest.