Judgey McJudgerson!
Why do some parents feel constantly judged, wonders Kim Norton.
Any other mothers tired of being accused of judging other mothers every time they open their mouths?

Read the comments on any article that deals with natural birth or breastfeeding or discipline and there it will be “just because you did things that way and it worked for you doesn’t mean you should judge me”.  You can re-read the article as many times as you like, and you just won’t be able to find how this person could feel judged.  The irony is that these mothers who feel so permanently persecuted don’t seem to see that it is often them making the judgements – assuming others feel superior or are “making a statement” for ever expressing an opinion or preference.

Complex inferiority?

Personally, I think these continual feelings of being judged because anyone else has done anything differently stem from a feeling of inferiority, lack of confidence in ones parenting choices and low self esteem.  

Now, of course, there are some mothers who seem to have a sanctimonious air about them and everything they do.  Yes, they probably are judging us lesser mortals whose children have tantrums, want ice cream for breakfast and refuse to go to bed.  But the rest of the time, most mothers are probably just trying to get on with parenting and chat with other mothers or share things on message boards and parenting sites.  Aren’t we supposed to want to sit around a well or in our caves or some such and chat about these things?

Here are some things to ponder:
  • If a mom says she loves breastfeeding, or talks about her experiences or makes a positive comment about breastfeeding – could it be that she isn’t making a pointed barb aimed at you because you chose not to breastfeed or were given bad advice and then felt you couldn’t breastfeed?  If you’re feeling guilty, gain some perspective and accept that you’re making yourself feel guilty.
  • Someone has just had a baby and gushes about her natural birth or water birth or orgasmic hypno birth in the ocean.  You had a c-section because you wanted one, or your baby was lying transverse, or his head or shoulder got stuck.  Perhaps this mom is just sharing her experience and not sitting there thinking less of you for using modern obstetrics to save your baby’s life, or so that you could schedule the date so you could hand in your masters thesis or because you just preferred it.  Does her sharing of her experience really mean she thinks less of you?
  • Nobody really cares whether you use a dummy or not.  It’s your baby and you’re the one who looks after it.  You know what works for your baby and you.  
  • So you buy your baby food in a shop or you make your own and puree it and don’t do baby led weaning.  Does it matter that someone else does things differently.  Just like you probably don’t care much how someone else does what works for them, why do you think others care so much about whether you do what works for you or not.  
  • Someone who says they had a lovely outing to the park with their child today isn’t purposefully trying to rub your nose in it because you do paid work, likewise someone who enjoyed going to the loo unaccompanied by a toddler because they were at work is also not trying to rub your nose in it and make you feel that being a stay at home mom is not a worthwhile occupation. 

Sometimes it can help to look at why we feel so passionately hurt by everything that every other mother says if it’s not exactly what we did.  Are our hormones out of kilter, do we have post natal depression or do we usually feel insecure and threatened by others choices?

What's best for me may not be what's best for you

Also, just because you don’t like or agree with a particular benefit of a particular way of parenting doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  Sometimes there is solid evidence to support a particular method of doing something, if you shriek “I feel judged” if anyone mentions this – it doesn’t take the facts away.  However, for some of us, perhaps those particular benefits aren’t that meaningful for us and there are others we value more, so we opt for another way of doing things.  Parents make their choices based on their families needs.  We all love our children and want to do what’s best for them, but we all differ in what we think is best and how to achieve whatever we think the ideal is.  

Most people don’t sit up all night planning ways to be mean to others.  Perhaps, before assuming you’re being judged, take a deep breath, count to ten and ask yourself if they’re really trying to be nasty to anyone else.  Everyone is going to feel hurt or offended by something someone says at some point, we’re all going to disagree with others on some things.  It’s called life.  

Moms, lets put our big girl panties on, breathe deeply and own the choices we make.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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