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'Motherhood Smotherhood' steps back to examine parenting techniques, debates




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In the mid-80s, the term “Mommy Wars” cropped up - signally an acrimonious battle between moms who work, and moms who stay at home.

Fast-forward, and there's all kinds of debate. Cloth diapering versus disposable; breast feeding versus the bottle; to sleep train, or not to sleep train.  

Local mom and writer J.J. Keith has experienced them all firsthand. Her book, "Motherhood Smotherhood" spreads the message that parenthood is a big, knotty mess, with no straightforward answers and no true experts. 

Keith says a lot of what parents learn about a baby occurs while the child is still in the womb – and once the baby is here, parents often don’t know what to do with the real deal.

"The other preparation I had was reading a lot of blogs, so I got this really skewed, somewhat unnatural, ethereal version of what parenthood would be like. Of all of the lovely trips to ice cream shops, and I just bought into that," she said.

Once parents do realize their search for proper information is far from over, they have to navigate the often-contradicting advice that is out there. And eventually, parents begin to take their decisions on what rules of thumb to follow – or not follow – to heart.

"I think the biggest contributing factor is that, we’re not trying to emulate our parents. We’re not taking the way that we were raised and copying it wholesale. Which means we’re making a lot of little tiny choices. Because everything is a choice, and not just an inherited conclusion, it becomes very, very personal."