Leading with Empathy

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

I saw a young couple walking with an older couple today. The young mother was carrying her cute little toddler while they were walking and the older woman was walking behind her saying “Put her down! Let her walk!” The young mother obviously felt stuck between doing what she was doing and taking orders from the older woman.


Being a mom can be overwhelming. Sometimes you feel alone and like everything is riding on you, especially as you grow your baby with your own body, feed your baby with your body, and nurture your baby's emotional intelligence with your openness and willingness to bond and connect with your child. These are things only you can do, which is why moms tend to feel like everything is riding on them. However, you can't do it alone.


The weight of the responsibility to care for your child's physical and emotional well-being is very real. And today's mom is not going to make the same choices and raise her baby the same way that her mom did....and that's okay! Actually, that's more than okay! That is a good sign of progress and growth. However, sometimes older moms can feel slighted, ignored, and they judge new moms severely for doing things differently than they did when they were raising their children.

If you are an older mom who is eye-rolling the way new moms do things, it's time to do some personal work and check-in with what is at the root of your frustration. New mothers are intuitive and wise, just as you were when you were a new mom. Let them raise their children in the way they feel called, and offer your warm and loving praise and affection as they rise to the challenge to bring new humans into the world.


If you are a young mom who is doing her best under the scrutiny and criticism of an older mom, don't take that negativity on. It isn't yours. It doesn't belong to you. I have always believed that people need several mothers and fathers. Dig into your community and find the nurturing love and support that YOU need in order to be the mom you are called to be.


In some ways, my whole career as a doula evolved out of a need for childbearing women to have support in the absence of a mother or women in her community who had no idea how to just show up. However, I hope that in the times I stood in as a mother-figure, sister-stand-in, and friend to the many parents I have worked with over the years, I ultimately gave them what they needed, at that time, to find their power and support needed to give birth and raise their children. I treasure each and every one of those people and experiences.


I’m grateful for every couple and glad for the experiences I've had working with childbearing women and their families because it was a really good, 15 year lesson in listening and empathy for me too. The families I worked with have inspired and challenged me in ways nothing else could.

Looking ahead, I believe we should really think long and hard about whether our opinions are needed or even valuable in comparison to the act of loving encouragement and support. It would be so easy to become entrenched in our own ideas. We should never think we have so much to say that we lose our wild curiosity about the world.



Peace, light, and doula-love,

Erica

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