Everyone judges and we have all been judged, but for some reason, being a parent seems to invite even greater levels of judgement – from strangers to family members, everyone has something to say! We take a look at why we judge, and some ways to handle how we feel when we are the object of the judgement.
All moms know that theirs is a tough job. So why do we make it even tougher by being critical of each other’s parenting styles and decisions?
Moms who are judged
Shameela’s* (34) story is a perfect example of this. “A family member of mine called me up recently to ask how I was coping with my young baby. We are about the same age and she has young children, so I opened up to her and admitted that returning to work had been really hard. I was totally unprepared for what followed.”
Instead of sympathy or understanding, Shameela’s relative unleashed a long monologue criticising her for returning to work because, she argued, the only right thing to do was to become a stay-at-home mom (as she had). “The underlying tone of the conversation was that I was a bad mother, and if I loved my daughter I would not put her into anyone else’s care. I was in absolute shock, but also felt my entire self-esteem as a new mom hit rock bottom. As it was, I was already questioning all of my parenting decisions and agonising over whether I was doing the best thing for my child.”
There are a few reasons that moms can be judgemental. Sometimes it can be because a mom is feeling insecure and she is trying to make herself feel better by belittling other moms, or criticising how they parent.
Shameela knows she made the right decision for her and her baby, but nagging doubts are as much a part of parenting as sleepless nights and nappies. This is why the judgement of other moms can be so hurtful.
Moms who judge
We polled our MamaMagicSA Facebook moms, and all of our respondents admitted to secretly judging other moms (but making a conscious effort to keep their opinions to themselves). And 33% said that they had been openly criticised for something they did as a parent.
Clinical Psychologist Charine Glen-Spyron explains that it is quite normal for moms to judge other moms. “There are a few reasons that moms can be judgemental,” she says. “Sometimes it can be because a mom is feeling insecure and she is trying to make herself feel better by belittling other moms, or criticising how they parent. It makes her feel better about herself. In other instances moms are actually trying to brag about their parenting by highlighting how well they do something in comparison to others. And sometimes a mom is simply trying to share her parenting knowledge and tips with another parent, probably in an over-enthusiastic way, without realising that her advice can come across as criticism.”
Dealing with it
So what is your best course of action when faced with judgement? Glen-Spyron shares the following top tips on how to manage judgemental people:
- Remember that as a parent you are doing your best, and not everyone’s situation is
- Focus on your child and your relationship with your child, instead of what other people think or say about you.
- Accept criticism as someone simply trying to be helpful. Perhaps their advice is useful. If nothing else, doing this will help you to see them in a more positive light.
- If it is a friend or family member, explain to them how their opinion makes you feel. “I appreciate your concern, but I find it hurtful when you…” Make it clear that it is not okay for them to make you feel that way, but keep the focus on yourself.
The truth is that every mom is doing her best. And every mom is different, just as every child is different, which means that what works for some will not necessarily work for others. Parenting styles are based on a unique mix of personality, beliefs, culture, and tried and tested methods. So the next time you want to judge that mom in the check-out queue who is shouting at, ignoring, or bribing her screaming child, take a moment to think about the last time you had a bad day and weren’t what you consider to be a perfect parent.
*Name has been changed.
What our Facebook moms have judged or been judged about
Thandi Jumo: “I’m judged every day because I feel that my two-year-old daughter is too young for crèche. I’m criticised for stifling her development because I’m not allowing her to interact with other children, but at the end of the day I brought this baby into this world and I will continue doing what I feel is best for her no matter what anyone says.”
Surika Fourie: “Oh yes! I even get judged by people who don’t have kids, lol. They love telling me how they would do home-cooked veg for their kids. I used to do it too, but when going out, ready-made food pouches are easier.”
Sarah Haynes-Smart: “I secretly judge people that drive with their babies on their laps or young children not buckled up. I think it is so irresponsible and absolutely disgusting behaviour!
It boils my blood.”
Nicky Niemann: “I try not to judge as I don’t like to be judged, but I find it irresponsible when people let their toddlers (1 year+) have gassy drinks, like Coke. A sip is one thing, but an