Crazy-Judgy Things People Say About Your Parenting
October 15, 2012
© Erin Zammett Ruddy
As a blogger, I’m privy to all sorts of judgment. I willingly put my life out there and the commentary (good, bad or cray cray) comes with the territory. I may not enjoy the criticism but I fully expect it. This is my job. In real life, though (among friends, family, strangers in the grocery store line), the judging happens, too. And it’s no secret that it’s kind of reached a boiling point.
We all do it. We silently judge parents and how they parent, particularly if they parent differently from us. I think much of it comes from a place of insecurity—like if you’re judgmental of a mom who doesn’t let her kids watch any TV, it could have to do with your own guilt about letting your kids watch too much, right? Other parents’ moves make us question our own moves and no one wants to think they’re not doing right by their kid. Or rather, in this super-competitive, cut-throat sport that parenting has become, absolutely perfect by their kid. The problem: This silent judging isn’t so silent anymore. Blogs and social media have done their part to escalate the trend—because when you can eye roll and finger point anonymously, why not let your opinions really be heard (or read)? But in the offline world, we do it too. We stare and point and guffaw and say I can’t believe she’s doing that/saying that/allowing that. Or worse, I can’t believe you’re doing that.
It starts as soon as the sperm meets the egg. Are you going to find out the sex? Are you going to have drug-free birth? Oh, you’re eating cold cuts? Oh, I never did that. (Insert judgmental tone and eye roll.) Somehow every decision we make is fair game for criticism: What kind of birth you’re going to have, how you’re going to feed your kid (just thinking about the breastfeeding/formula-feeding mud-slinging gives me anxiety), where your kids sleep, what kind of diapers you use, circumcision, vaccinations, what sports they play, where they go to school, the kind of shoes they wear for crying out loud. These parenting put-downs (however slight and subconscious they can be sometimes) have become so much a fabric of our mom culture that they’re almost impossible to avoid. I try hard to keep my mompinions to myself (when I'm not blogging, of course), or to at least make it clear that my opinon is simply that—just my opinion. But I know I’m guilty of being judgy sometimes, too. Somewhere along the way we forgot that we’re all on the same team. I know people who’ve lost friendships over this stuff. And it’s mind-boggling.
That said, it’s only human to compare. I get that. I know I’m never going to stop noticing how other moms do their thing and wondering how my own choices stack up. I think it’s fine to notice. It's normal. It’s fine to talk about our differences, too. We just need to have some tact. We need to be careful with our words, mindful of other’s feelings and opinions. When it comes to the trickier topics, I always try to say (and blog) that I choose to do it X way and that Y way is not for me, but I get how others would want to do it that way (rather than, wow you're a terrible mom for doing it Y way—see the difference? Subtle but important). We also need to check that holier-than-thou, I’m-a-better-mom vibe because that type of ‘tude speaks louder than words. Bottom line: We’re all in this together and we need to be more supportive. Or at least not so undermining and judgy—e.g., if we can’t say, Wow, I think it’s great that you’re breastfeeding your four year old, you go girl! we can try not be so appalled by it. We're all mom enough for that, right?
OK, as you can tell, I am fascinated by this topic and I’d really love to hear your thoughts today. Do you feel judged? Do you judge others? And…what’s the judgiest thing anyone has said to you about your parenting?