The choice to helmet your child is a tough one to make. You’ve reached your wits end, and tried everything from massage therapy and tummy time to physical therapy and baby wearing. You’ve battled insurance companies, done hours of research, and finally you’ve arrived at the conclusion – with your child’s doctor backing you up – that a helmet isn’t about caprice. It’s necessary at this point.
And then the snark starts…
The mom in the play group who prods you about your baby’s helmet. The woman in the bookstore who sees your little one sleeping in it and mutters at you about how helmets didn’t exist in her day, and everyone she knows has a perfect little head. The crunchy couple that looks at you like you’re failing miserably when you put your child in a stroller, helmet and all, because your back is already killing you from the day’s walk and you’ve got a bit of swelling on your chin from wearing your little one all day. The mother-in-law who means well, but…you know what I’m talking about.
Sometimes, it sucks to be a parent. And it has nothing to do with your child. It’s about everyone else. When the rest of the world makes you feel like dirt, what can you do? Luckily, my family was supportive of helmeting from the get-go, and I didn’t have to face too much snark. But I did face a bit…it left me on the edge of tears a few times, and desperate for a break. I wanted a retreat I could run to where I could parent in peace, but I also wanted to scream sometimes. To tell the snarks that they had no right to shove their nose into my parenting choices.
Helmeting a child with positional plagiocephaly and brachiocephaly is controversial. But sometimes, it’s necessary. For my son, I knew it wasn’t just about his looks. Brachycephalic babies can go on to develop sleep apnea and other health problems. Plagiocephaly’s long-term effects aren’t really well understood, and most of the research about helmets isn’t strong enough to base a decision on.
I wasn’t going to take chances with my son’s health, so I worked hard to cut the stress and snark from mine.
Quick Tips to Escape the Snark
If you’re looking for a way to rid yourself of unwanted advice, drop the number of snarky comments you get from friends, family, and even perfect strangers, or would just like five minutes peace without someone dictating how you should raise your child, try these tips:
- Remember that at the end of the day, no matter what parenting choices you make, you’re trying to do the best for your child. And so is every other parent out there. You made your choices after careful research and consideration. If someone makes you feel guilty about them or criticizes you incessantly, maybe it’s time to rid your life of their toxicity – a real friend will understand that every child is different, and that you’re doing what you know is best for your baby.
- Think about something that makes you smile. I tend to turn to YouTube for a funny clip, or call one of my best girlfriends, who always knows how to make me laugh.
- Don’t snark back. It’s contagious, but no matter how justified you feel in being a little nasty in return, it won’t do you any good. You’ll just be making someone else feel as miserable as you do.
- Take some me time. Your instinct might be to re-evaluate every parenting decision you’ve ever made, and then sink into a carton of chocolate Haagen-Dazs. Don’t do it. Have faith in yourself, and realize that if someone else’s comments are affecting you so much, it might be a sign that you need some time to pamper yourself.
- It helps relieve stress and anxiety, improve mental prowess, and keep you healthy. If that doesn’t work, take a bikram yoga class to sweat off some anger and (literally) let off a little steam. And if you still can’t shake the snark, try kickboxing.
Snark comes from the same source as playground bullying – the person dishing it out is usually just as stressed as you. If it gets to you, chances are that your defenses are down. Take care of yourself, and have faith in your own decisions. You love and are working hard to take care of your little one, and frankly, that’s all that matters.