I used to write for a neat website called Modern Parent. I focused on topics related to frugality and natural living, and I figured it’d be nice to have everything in one space. I’ll be posting my articles here every now and again, since my column there is no more. This one was written just a couple of months ago…
We’ve all seen it. The boy getting dragged back under the dressing room door.The toddler, barely big enough to see over the table, playing a personal video game system while his parents enjoy their meal. The mom whipping her boob out to nurse in public. The mom whipping her bottle and powder out to formula-feed in public. The girl screaming in a check-out line while her parents throw toys in the cart.
We judge parents all the time for what we see in public, practices with which we might not agree… I would never do that. She must not be strict enough at home. He must not get enough time with his kids to know what to do. She must think she’s better than me by doing that. I’m so thankful I know better, BLESS HER HEART!
Let’s be honest – we’ve all done it. We pass judgment as routinely as brushing our teeth.
Yet we sit around on the Internet or in coffee shops or living rooms, talking about how we need to build each other up. We need to stop judging, stop being so catty! Let’s band together and embrace all parenting styles. All that matters in the end is that our kids are safe and happy, right?
Yes. And no.
Only recently have I embraced a different perspective. I believe that this sort of parental judgment is unavoidable. After all, each of us raises our children the way we do because we think it’s best. Hopefully, you think your way of doing things is right – which makes other ways wrong by default.
Right? Embrace that! You are the best parent in the world for your child! You do a much better job at it than I would. Conversely, I’m a better parent than you when it comes to my own brood.
I think judgment towards other parents is a reflex, one as natural as blinking. I’m not going to fight it. From now on, I’m making efforts to curb the way I judge. I know I cannot stop doing it completely, but I can take measures to keep myself from becoming ugly or pretentious about it.
For example: When I see another boy behave the way my son did before we changed his diet, I can’t help but think that maybe his parents just haven’t figured it out yet. If they knew what we knew, surely he wouldn’t be holding that soda. And that’s okay. I’m entitled to think that. But might I also stop to think that maybe they are already addressing it? Maybe the behavior I’m seeing is an improvement from the day before? Maybe he earned that soda?
When I see a woman feeding a tiny baby from a bottle, my first thought is one of pity. What if that mother and baby never know what it’s like to breastfeed? It just pops into my head. I can’t help feeling so passionately about something. But what if it’s expressed breast milk in that bottle and the mother nurses at home? What if she’s a breast cancer survivor? What if that baby’s adopted? What if they tried and tried, but were unable to establish a good latch or milk supply? Give it a rest already! I don’t know the whole story. Chances are, I never will.
So I will continue to think that my ways are best for me, but I must accept that your ways are best for you. I’ll be honest – certain parenting practices are different enough to put a strain on friendships between families. I can’t allow my son to spend unsupervised time at a friend’s house where (what we consider to be) inappropriate movies or video games are played.
That’s only fair, right?
But parenting practices cannot be different enough to make us forget our manners or our ability to process through situations as we come across them.
Judge on, fellow parents… but please do so with tact and class, bless your heart.