The other day my co-worker was standing on a street corner with her two-year-old, who was strapped into her stroller. Her daughter had managed to wriggle her little arm out of the shoulder strap, when a woman swept up to her with a worried look on her face, squealing, "She's standing up! She's standing up!" My co-worker looked down to see her daughter sitting, but with one free arm waving in the air. No danger in sight. Why the freak-out from this bystander?
I have yet to meet a mother without a similar story -- one mother puts on her Judgy McJudgy pants and makes a critical statement about another mother's parenting habits. "Your baby looks cold." "Has your son had a nap today?" "She's standing up! She's standing up!" We generally don't show this much interest in each other's lives. Why, when it comes to parenting, do we feel free to distribute our opinions, criticisms, and reservations about something that's none of our business?
Judith Warner touched upon this in a recent article in the NYTimes, Insult and Injury. It's a good read because these stories are generally entertaining, but there is also an important question at stake: why do moms dump on each other so much? Has a mom every said a snippy comment to you about your parenting skills? Have you ever found yourself guilty of this crime?