How can we really support moms? It isn’t to push our own agenda or judge each other’s actions. Instead, try these 5 ways to show real support.
“I think I’m going to stop breastfeeding at six months,” a friend confided to me the other day. “But I’m torn. I’m reading up on breastfeeding support, and I just feel even guiltier!”
How to support moms
I had a similar conversation with another friend. I mentioned I’m open to any feeding method for the twins. Whether that’s breastfeeding, formula-feeding or both. Especially since I’m not sure how it’ll all work out with feeding two this time around.
Her words seemed “supportive,” but I got the feeling she felt breastfeeding was better. She means well and may even think this is the kind of encouragement I’d need to stick it out. But sometimes support takes a turn and ends up making moms feel worse. So how can you really support moms?
#1 Listen without judgment
Listen without judgment, even if you disagree with what the other mom decides. We think we show support by providing reasons to keep it up, from breastfeeding to making baby food.
And yes, these motivational tips are what’s just needed. You know in your heart you want to keep going and just need that extra push and motivation to do so. Heck, I even wrote my own reasons to keep you motivated to breastfeed for those times when giving up seems so easy.
But rather than listing the benefits, consider whether that’s what she even needs. Before we assume she needs a convincing argument, maybe we can see if she even need those extra reasons. Maybe she prefers a non-judgmental, listening ear.
#2 Support your friend regardless of her decisions
Support means sticking by your friend regardless of whatever decision she decides. We need to realize that people do what works best for them, not because they’re making a mistake. Even if she makes decisions on insufficient information, this is what works for her.
#3 Be the anchor in her storm
Support means being the anchor in their storm, the constant in their lives. One of the best ways to support is to be a person she can rely on who won’t judge her, no matter what she decides. Provide her the means to achieve her goals, but don’t judge or even give advice.
#4 Don’t convince her one way or another
Don’t sway or convince other moms one way or another. Doing so seems a bit selfish, as if we have our own agenda to preach. Provide information, and only if it’s even wanted. The more we convince others to do something, the less we’re able to listen to what they want or need.
Our friends will draw their own conclusions, all without our advice. We’re there to listen, answer questions, even regale our own stories and experiences. But we do all that with the understanding that this is her decision to make, not ours.
#5: Realize she’s doing what works for her
Realize that everyone does what works best for them. I may think that I made the best decision, but another mom may feel just as convinced about her decision. She may even think I’m crazy for not doing what she did. We’re all different, and that’s okay.
Short of abusing or neglecting kids, I doubt that in 20 years we will ask one another, “So, did you formula feed? Oh, I see…” (raise judgmental eyebrow).
I’ve met some of the most supportive moms on this blog and am fortunate to know so many more in my life. It’s this kind of support that has helped pull me through some of the more challenging aspects of being a mom.
Get more posts about motherhood
- 6 Ways Dads Can Support Breastfeeding Moms
- Moms, We’re All in This Together
- Are Moms Boasting when They Share Natural Birth Stories?
- Moms: Asking for Help Does NOT Mean You’re Failing
- The Irony of Judging Other Moms
What are some of the best ways you’ve been supported as a mom and parent? Which ways have been less than helpful?
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