When your good friend makes a different choice…

Aug 27, 2014

She’s been your very best friend. You’ve taken girl trips.  Gone running together. Hosted Downton Abbey watch parties.

Amazingly, you become pregnant at the same time. What joy! right?

In your excitement y’all sign up to attend birthing classes together. As the nurse explains labor and delivery, you lean over to your husband and make sure he knows you will be getting an epidural. Little do you know but your best friend just leaned over to her husband and said the exact opposite. There is no way she would subject her new baby to drugs.

So it begins.

Hospital or Birthing Center?

Induction? C-section?

Breastfed or bottle fed?

Swaddling? Pacifier?

Cry it out or co-sleep?

No matter how close you and she were before kids, your differing parenting choices begin to take a toil.

I remember sitting in playgroup with fellow first-time moms. Each of us experimenting on that poor oldest child, unsure how the decisions we made would pan out.

first playdate

baby at the bottom of the pic is my oldest at his first play date. (wearing a “party at my crib” onesie)

Our get-togethers were a combination of debate and note-comparing. A mom would defend her choice to co-sleep and quote a book she read on the topic. Or we’d figure out whether to present vegetables first or skipped straight to fruit choices.

Slowly the decisions changed from what do you feed your child to pretty much everything…

How we handled discipline or potty training.

What do we let them watch on T.V. (do you even own a T.V.).

Will they attend private or public school? Which private school? Which private Christian school? Which private Classical Christian School (there happen to be 4 choices in Dallas…blessed)?

How soon will you sign him up for sports? How many sports will he play in one season? Will he join a league team?

The list is endless.

Sometimes when you make one choice and a dear friend makes a different choice, you may question your decision. It makes you move into defensive mode again. Stating all your research and listing off all your reasoning.

I think it goes back to those early days of mothering. Back when we could compare notes to see if we were doing okay. I mean if she feeds her son two jars of vegetable baby food and two jars of fruit, just like me, then my baby’s gonna be just fine and get chunky, too. 

(sidenote: every child from our first playgroup attends a different school. . .and each doing great.)

The thing is we ALL desperately want to be good moms and for our children to become functional adults. We really, really don’t want to fail.

That’s why when she picked that school and you decided on a different one, you felt a little insecure.

How could you both want what’s best and the best choice is different?

So we justify our choice and in doing so can make the other person feel even worse.

Here’s my new thing. . .

I remind myself each family is uniquely crafted just like each person. A dad brings his family history/traditions/opinions and a mom brings hers, then together they create a new family with a new set of values/traditions/needs.

When a friend decides based on her family’s financial situation, home location, child’s learning style, long-term goals, etc to choose a particular school, I don’t feel like I’ve made a bad choice just because it’s different from hers.

If I find myself needing to explain my choice, I keep it simple. And if I’ve sought God in making my decision (which I’d highly suggest, by the way), I’ll share that with my friend. “We’ve prayed and this is the direction God is taking us.”

Because wouldn’t it be boring if we all parented in the exact same way?

Some families aren’t “dance party families” and others aren’t “read-aloud book families”. Some families fight for animal rights and others go hunting. Some families’ priority is dinner together around the table and others find unity cheering on the soccer field sidelines.

And that’s just awesome.

It’s being a God-centered family. . .seeking Him first to choose the places He wants you to be, for His glory. Amen.

Have you ever differed from a good friend in your parenting choices? How did you handle the situation?



  1. eryn

    beautiful message, Heather. that reminder – that each family is uniquely crafted – is so good for resetting the heart and shutting down the ugly comparison dialog in our minds. we do what we do because it works best FOR US & it’s where God has led US, not because we think “our way” is the absolute best for everyone.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      love the way you put it eryn …”the ugly comparison dialog”. God is so creative, even in how He sets us in families.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      very good point. . .confidence in our own decision making is a key to decreasing comparison and conflict. It also requires grace on our part to not assume our way is the only way. Yes, there are absolute truths we must hold to, but there are a lot of areas God does not dictate in His Word and allows us to be led by His Spirit.

  2. Lara

    Ahhhhh. I love this, friend. So good.

  3. Alyssa

    I love this post too – I was surprised by how easily I felt vulnerable in my choices as a new mom, how sensitive to judgment. Ultimately, I am glad to say that my friendships have survived different parenting choices so far because we choose to respect each other and the best intentions that each of us bring to our families, even when like you say, our best choices are different.

  4. Holly

    I feel like moms do that to me when ever they find out I’m homeschooling. They defend themselves, assuring me they could never do _that_ (even though I didn’t ask or remotely hint!!). Wonder how to encourage and affirm moms in those moments… Thoughts? And I’m including grandmothers I meet in the grocery store. Defending herself for not homeschooling 40+ years ago! It’s a truly bizarre phenomenon!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Yes, I think that in a lot of moms’ minds they feel the absolute best they could do for their children is to be with them all day and train them all day. And anything less than that is not the “best”. As moms we don’t remember God is with our children. As important as our role is, God’s role is more important. And if our children are not with us, God is with them. His Holy Spirit will guide them and give them discernment. You and I both know that homeschooling is not the answer for every kid in every family. I was homeschooled and I currently don’t homeschool. I think a good response is to say “Homeschooling is the best fit for our family right now, but it is not the best option for everyone.” Hope that helps!

  5. Kierstyn

    Thank you so much for writing this! The timing couldn’t be more perfect as I’m beginning to work on weaning my baby at 10 months old, while most of my friends have breast fed their babies till 1 1/2 or 2 years old. This decision is one my husband and I have discussed and decided on due to various reasons and it’s one in which I am seeking to follow my husband’s direction for our family while trusting God’s plans. Comparison and the desire to defend our decision have definitely been temptations for me over the past couple weeks and I’m grateful for your truth-filled encouragement!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      I’m so thankful it was helpful to you! And as you go forward in mothering I pray God gives you and your husband wisdom for raising your child. . .specific to the plan God has for that child. So hard with those first ones to trust God and not compare to the “standard” of what those around you are doing. I stopped breastfeeding my oldest by 9months and he turned out just fine. 😉 (actually kind of a genius. . .)

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