Supermodel Gisele Bündchen recently caught flack for extolling breast feeding a little too enthusiastically, stating that she thinks breastfeeding should be mandatory for the first six months of the child’s life.
She was quoted in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK as saying “Some people think they don’t have to breastfeed, and I think ‘Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little? I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.” She went on to note that nursing helped her regain her figure.
Clearly breastfeeding worked well for her. It worked well for me too, although it wasn’t until I stopped nursing that I lost the final 10 lbs. Clearly my experience was different than Gisele’s and that’s okay. What is not okay is preaching to others based on your own experience. Because guess what? All of us are different and all of our kids are different.
Those of us with more than one child may even notice that what worked perfectly for our firstborn, doesn’t work at all for our subsequent kids. In other words, while we may be experts on raising our children, that doesn’t make us experts on anyone else’s.
So the next time you are tempted to tell another person how to parent, have a little check in with yourself and ask, “Will this really help her?” If yes, try to position it in a way that is non-judgmental. Sharing your own experience is a good way to do this. You might saw something commiserative like, “We really struggled with this issue with our son. If it would ever be helpful to hear how we handled it, I’d be happy to share.” Positioning the advice this way, where the recipient can either say, “Yes, that would be helpful” or “No thank you, I think we’ve got it covered” can avoid unnecessary hurt feelings.