Your Mothering Choices Are Being Judged. So What?

gavelJudgy moms. Sanctimommies. Moms who recoil in horror when you pull out a McDonald's bag at the park. Call them what you will, but they abound. In fact, a recent study found that 90 percent of moms judge other moms about everything from their kids being bratty to if they breastfeed or not. I'm pretty sure the other 10 percent are lying, but really, who cares?

Moms that's who. We constantly bemoan being judged, and cry out about other people not approving of our parenting choices. Parenting is hard enough; why can't we all just support and love one another, moms cry. That would be lovely, but perhaps a more realistic approach: Let's stop whining and grow a thicker skin.

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No one likes to be judged, unless, of course, the judgment is in your favor. But judging isn't limited to the world of mommies -- it's what happens in the real world, every day, everywhere. As humans we watch and evaluate what other people do, then decide if we agree or disagree. Sometimes we voice those opinions and sometimes we don't; sometimes we just can't hide them. 

In school, in the workplace, in the grocery store -- with or without our screaming kids in tow -- people judge us. So what? Unless they're rudely yelling in my face to drop the Doritos or trying to gag my kids' mouths themselves, they can go on and judge all they want. It's my right to make decisions about what's right for my family, and it's their right to like it ... or not. Of course a lot of it comes from the delivery, and some people are just rude, but that's certainly not limited to their views on motherhood.

I think the real problem when it comes to parenting and judgment is that the stakes are so high, and most of us (all of us, if we're honest) are afraid we're not doing things right. So that insecurity makes us more fragile than ever when it comes to judgment. Understandable, but instead of wasting time being so defensive about other people judging us, we should be learning from others who see and do things differently than we do, and either strengthening our stances or perhaps adjusting them when we see a way to do things that may be better.

It also seems that much of what people perceive as judgement isn't really judgement, but genuine concern or intrigue about how another parent does something. When someone tells me their kids eat sugared cereal for breakfast every day, and I ask how many cavities they have, I genuinely want to know. I may think, Wow, I'd never let my kids do that, and yes, I am judging, but oh well. I wouldn't; she would. I feel good about my decision, and if that hurts her feelings, then ... that's a sad statement about just how fragile we mothers are.

It's easier to say stand strong in your parenting convictions and don't care what other people think than it is to actually do it, I know. People's looks, comments, and judgments have certainly caused me plenty of angst. But I like to think that in the end, that input has made me a better parent because the feedback -- however unwelcome -- makes me constantly reevaluate how I want to raise my children and live my life. I think that's a good thing.

So the next time some smug mom starts judging you, thank her for her opinion, then do whatever the hell it is you think is best.

Do judgmental moms bother you? Are you surprised by how many moms admit judging others?


Image via walknboston/Flickr 

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