Care and Feeding

I Can’t Get Over What My Friend Said Years Ago About My Nursing Choice

Should I bring it up now?

A baby being fed a bottle.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Tom Merton/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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Dear Care and Feeding,

I am the mother of a 5-year-old and a toddler. With both kids, I decided to use formula exclusively. Nursing did not appeal to me for a variety of reasons (same with pumping). However, I do support other moms doing whatever they prefer/feel is best. My friend who is also a mom, and who is a more “natural” type of mom than I am, in all of her parenting practices, knew that I used formula for my first child and asked, when I was pregnant with my second, if I was “going to try to breastfeed this time.” I am wondering if I should let her know that this has been on my mind since then, because it just plain hurts.

—Wishing She Hadn’t Asked

Dear Wishing,

If you are still thinking about this—and still pained by it—after all this time, I think there is more to consider than whether or not to mention it to your friend.

But first, let me tackle the matter of the friendship. Do you believe she meant this as criticism, that she was accusing you of bad parenting for not breastfeeding? If so, yes, I think it’s worth bringing up, even two years (?) later—if you value this friendship. Tell her she hurt your feelings. If this is a real friendship, you’ll talk it through and come out the other end OK. But if you think about my question and conclude this is unlikely—if you decide she was either being overzealous, wanting to share her enthusiasm about nursing with you, or simply curious about your plans, implying no judgment—I’d let it go.

No matter what you decide to do, though, let me suggest this: One is never seriously troubled—certainly not for this long!—by the things people say about or to us unless deep down we are worried about them ourselves. Is it possible to be annoyed or briefly hurt by a thoughtless ,or even malicious, remark? Of course. But if something a friend has said or implied about you is still discomfiting you well beyond the moment it happened, the person worth having a talk with is yourself.

And really, the talk you have with yourself is not all that different from the talk you would have with your friend if she were the one judging you. It’s a “talk” about how and why you made a decision about how to care for your children that was the right one for you. If there is something that is nagging you about this decision, I think you need to address it, not swat it away. You’ll feel better once you do.

— Michelle

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