“Have you tried cooking with her?”
This is the question I usually get whenever I describe my eight-year-old daughter’s selective eating.
For years I’ve responded to such unsolicited advice by describing all of the different tricks and tactics I’ve tried, including, yes, cooking with her. Halfway through yet another conversation last week about her food habits, I suddenly realized something.
I was being momsplained.
We are all now familiar with the term mansplaining, in which a man tells another person (usually a woman) how to improve a situation or solve a problem, regardless of whether he has any idea what he’s talking about, or even a decent grasp of the entire situation. Well-intentioned or not, it’s rarely helpful.
We moms do it to each other all the time, too.
Here’s how it usually goes down. You bemoan your latest parenting challenge—perhaps your child isn’t sleeping or refuses to practice piano, or maybe you’re at the end of your rope with the constant meltdowns or mouthing off. Inevitably, another mom jumps in with a story about How She Solved the Problem. She then dives into the details of the star chart, parenting guru, or Pinterest-worthy solution that had her kid on time for school, every single morning.
Momsplaining happens on the playgrounds and soccer fields, in Mommy and Me classes, and anywhere moms congregate and chat between sips of coffee. I’ve been momsplained so frequently in response to my online parenting rants—when I’m really looking for empathy—that I now either come to expect it or I explicitly note that I’m not asking for advice. I almost always receive a litany of suggestions anyway, most of which I’ve already tried or aren’t relevant.
As frustrating as it is to be the recipient of a momsplain, the truth is that I’m just as guilty of dishing it out as the next person, if not more so. I am a clinical social worker, after all, who works with parents, and I’ve written two parenting books. My desire to help is so strong that I have turned it into a career. That’s okay in my professional life, as folks come to me specifically asking for advice.
But my personal life is a different story…
You can read the rest of this post over on Motherwell Magazine.