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Mom groups, hurtful or helpful?

The cause of stress or stress reliever?

I read a lot about being a new parent and being in parent groups; are these helpful to us or hurtful?  A lot of mothers in particular find themselves stressed out as they compare themselves to how other moms are doing.  Some moms are even bullied.

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I remember the feeling the first time around, listening to other moms stories about how easy or hard they had it.  Sam was an easy baby for the most part, eating and sleeping when he was supposed to until he was about three months old.  I would listen to the other moms talk about how their babies napped for at least two hours in the middle of the day and wonder what I was doing wrong.  Sam would sleep in 30 minute increments throughout the day.  Nonetheless, he was still very happy, active, nursing well, etc.  All good marks from the doctor's office as well.

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But from listening to all the other moms and their "success" stories, I wondered why Sam wasn't doing that.  Or more, what was I doing wrong that he wasn't doing that.  So, I tried to change how we did things, even though they worked for the most part and found myself even more frustrated than when we began.  I would spend up to an hour or more trying to get Sam to nap because I had maybe tried to keep him awake longer so he would nap longer.  Do you think it worked? No!  He would sleep maybe 40-45 minutes now instead of his usual 30 and now he was overtired and cranky.

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I learned to be content with the amount of time that Sam napped instead of trying to fight it.  It wasn't only examples like this of napping that I found myself stressing about after meeting up with my mom group.  Sometimes it was the fight at bed time, when babies started crawling or sitting up, people potty training their babies- the list goes on and on as I'm sure many can relate to.  And it's not strange that we do this, drive ourselves crazy comparing ourselves to other moms, dads, parents.  I'm sure we do this because we are only trying to be the best parents we can be to our children.

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Where I think it goes completely over the line is with moms bullying other moms.  Blatantly being mean to another mom for their parenting style is such a big no no!  With postpartum, sleep deprivation, lack of enough coffee to keep us sane, cranky newborns, temper throwing toddlers, and all the housework that piles up just as I write this, WHY?  There are so many different ways to raise your children, there is no way to say that one is wrong while another write.  It's not that black and white with kids.  Sometimes my husband and I say we're going to do something one way and have to completely 180 it because the next week is completely different and that original way, DOESN'T WORK.

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We get to choose so many things for our kids! How are we going to discipline our children (to a certain extent)?  will we feed them vegan or vegetarian from when they can start eating? will we go with Baby Led Weaning? when are we going to start weaning baby from nursing? will baby nurse or be bottle fed? when will we start potty training? and on and on.. stop the mom-shaming and support other moms and dads.

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There are still times I find myself stressing when I hear another parent explaining how easy a certain milestone was for them and their kids, but I know there is probably someone else in my friend circle who has felt the same way when I have explained something that went easily for us.  It feels like its all just a big roller coaster, some parts are easier for some for awhile and then they hit their own issue that they struggle with while it then goes easily for someone else dealing with a similar issue.  We are all just doing the best we can in order to get some sleep and keep the peace.

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Mom/Parent groups aren't all bad though.  As a first time mom, I really enjoyed getting advice or tips from other moms when I was struggling with something with Sam.  Or even just hearing that things are normal that you maybe question as a first time parent.  Being able to go to the mom group and unload and have almost everyone relate was a huge relief.  You could get everything you were feeling out, maybe things that you knew your parent couldn't relate to at the moment, and have people completely understand or going through the same situation as yourself.

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I really made quite a few friends from my mom group who I still meet up with today.  Lucky for me, some of them are on maternity leave again with me!  What a coincidence :) I'm very grateful for the support network of friends I have here.  When we are all home sick and just trying to survive, I love knowing I have friends close by who want and can help us if we were to need it.  And I love having friends that I truly would do the exact same for them when in need.  It's a hard run, this parenting thing, particularly mom-ing but that's another story.  We all could use a couple extra helping hands now and again.

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