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Are you “that mom”? You know the one that quit breastfeeding after only two weeks because you were just “too lazy” to stick with it. Nobody really knows what was going on behind the scenes – the baby that wouldn’t latch, the pumping, your baby’s constant crying, your own tears shed from trying to make things work. The only thing they know is that you are giving your baby – oh no – dare we say it… formula.
While some moms go straight to formula feeding, according to the CDC, seventy-five percent of moms give breastfeeding a shot first. By six months though, the majority of moms have stopped breastfeeding and have switched to formula feeding. If this is so, why do formula feeding moms get so much grief? The benefits of breastfeeding are well known. Most bottle feeding moms are aware of them. For some reason though, people find it their duty to educate, inform, and sometimes criticize moms that don’t breastfeed. Here are 11 tips for dealing with this criticism.
Are you at peace with your decision to formula feed your baby? If you have questions lingering in your head about whether you could have or should have made different decisions, it can make you feel less confident and more defensive. Before you can handle criticism from others, you need to tackle your own inner critic. Let go of any negative emotions that may be dragging you down. Be good to yourself and know that love – what’s really best for your baby – doesn’t come from a bottle or breast.
Even though you know that you don’t have to justify your choices, your first reaction to any breastfeeding discussion may be to jump on the defensive and start explaining yourself. By doing this though, you may be setting yourself up for scrutiny and unwanted advice. You shouldn’t have to validate your decisions. If you want to share your experience and reasons for formula feeding, do so, but don’t feel like you have to.
If you truly enjoy debate, don’t feel like you have to hold back on your opinions. However, participating in an argument may leave you feeling angry and emotional. When you have a quarrel with a friend or family member, sometimes things get said out of anger or frustration. Both parties may say something they later regret. Think about how you might feel after an argument and whether or not the conversation is really worth having.
An easy approach to dodging criticism is to keep it short. Rather than getting into a long discussion you can just say “formula feeding works best for our family.” This doesn’t give people a lot to bite on. If the conversation does continue, you can reiterate your point and ask for the discussion to be over. You might say, “Like I said, formula feeding works for us. Can we talk about something else now?” Or, if necessary, “Formula feeding is best for us. End of discussion.”
When you are chatting with people, steer the conversation. If you feel like the conversation is headed in a bad direction, change the subject. You don’t have to make an obvious announcement that you want to change the subject. This may create awkward and unnecessary tension. Instead, casually redirect the conversation by asking new questions that get the other person talking about something different.
Think ahead when you are talking to people. If you know that someone has strong opinions on formula feeding, don’t bring up anything that might trigger an argument. This doesn’t mean you have to walk on egg shells around opinionated people, but you may not want to “bring it on” with people like this.
American writer Elbert Hubbard once said, "To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing." The fact is, no matter how you approach things with parenting, it’s inevitable that somebody somewhere will question or criticize your choices. It’s just the way it is. You have to develop a thick skin when you are a mom. Ignore the negative comments and try not to let them get to you.
It is helpful not only for debate but for your own peace of mind to know the facts about formula feeding. By feeding your baby formula, you are providing your baby with all the nutrients she needs for healthy growth and development. Along with basic nutrition, most formula manufacturers’ products are now fortified with DHA, ARA and prebiotics. DHA and ARA, similar to the fatty acids found in breast milk, may aid in brain and eye development, and prebiotics help to promote a healthy digestive and immune system.
If you are constantly being bombarded with criticism, this is the time to be honest with your feelings. Let the criticizer know, in a thoughtful and respectful way, how she makes you feel when she makes negative comments about your parenting choices. Take some time to think about how you want to approach the subject and wait till the person is in a good frame of mind to discuss things.
Surround yourself with supportive friends and family. If you don’t have a lot of friends and family that formula feed, it can make you feel isolated and alone. Get support and advice from caring friends and other formula feeding parents who understand your feelings.
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