I was reading an article on the Mamapedia newsletter the other day about mothers judging other mothers and it got me thinking and noticing…. First off, we all judge and I can’t really say whether that’s a good or bad thing in general but I do believe that it’s bad if it makes the person being judged feel bad. Now, I speak from having been on both ends of this since I am occasionally quick to judge. I’ve been paying attention to this behavior now and I’m noticing it more and more often in myself. And let me just say, that now that I stop and think about it, once I find myself “passing judgment” as it were, I realize that 99% of the time I’m making assumptions, allowing myself to feel superior and generally not taking into consideration the reasons why that particular person is doing that particular thing. Now, I’m not saying we need to be all p.c. all of the time, but I do think that the person I think is somehow messing up, or not doing the right thing, or not using the correct parenting technique probably doesn’t need to hear my opinion unless they specifically ask for it. And even then, I think it’s important to present our opinions in a way that’s not categorical. More of a “there’s this option as well” and less of a “this is what you should be doing”, because, really, can we justify being so arrogant as to think that what works for us will also work for Tom, Dick and Harry?
As the occasional judgee (i.e. person being judged, did I just make that word up? ) I get irritated at all the unwanted advice, especially as it often feels like criticism of what I’ve been doing. Although, I realize that when you have a blog and complain about certain things it is par for the course, but if I’m chatting with my friends and get repeated, unsolicited, let’s just be honest and call it judgmental advice, it raises my hackles. And though on the one hand, I know that if I don’t want to be judged then I shouldn’t bitch and moan about things like my kids don’t sleep, or eat well, or whatever drama of the moment is going on in my life, on the other hand, I assume that other mothers have been there and could be more accepting, more understanding, more empathetic and less just leave them to cry it out, or put them in your bed, or send them to bed hungry, or cook them another meal or whatever option worked (or they just wished had worked) for them. Because I read all the parenting books too, and am aware of the options out there, but maybe, maybe I’m still trying to figure out the one that works for me and my kids and it may not be what worked for you and your kids. In fact, that’s what I tell myself now, right before I open my mouth to tell a friend how and why she’s screwing up with her kids.
There are so many options out there, there are so many theories we can follow, or partially follow, or mix and match to create our own, that there literally cannot be a correct and incorrect way to do it. And this relates to all things in life. As far as parenting is concerned, if you’re not hurting your child, and by that I mean seriously physically or psychologically harming, not “hurting” by using disposable rather than cloth diapers or something like that, then it’s none of my damn business how you raise your child. And, when you come complaining about the fact that you can’t get your toddler to eat his vegetables anymore, I promise I’ll make you coffee and commiserate, I won’t suggest you serve them differently, or hide them in pasta sauce or whatever, and if you ask for advice, I promise, no diktats just suggestions, because what the hell do I know! And as far as I’m concerned, on this blog, comments are welcome, appreciated and loved, judgments not so much, but they are accepted. That’s what we get for putting ourselves out there. Just remember, I’m doing the best that I know how as, I assume, are you, and that’s all any of us can do, right?