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It’s OK to Judge Another Mom

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I always appreciate the mother commenters of the world who offer up the non-judgmental reactions to articles I write with remarks like, "To each her own!" or "Good for you for knowing what works for you!"

Comments like those put the warm fuzzies in my writer's heart and a spring in my motherhood step, because it's so true, isn't it? Not one mother walks in the shoes of another mother, and what a wonderful world it would be if we could just all stop judging each other.

Except I'm pretty sure we never will.

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And in all honesty, I think it can be OK to judge other mothers. But before the e-stoning commences, allow me to explain.

Think back to the last time that you judged another woman — and don't pretend you've never, because you have. It may have been something completely small, like judging a mother who dares to have the audacity to write about judging other mothers, or something big, like secretly thinking that your best friend should have tried harder to breastfeed.

Judging happens because it happens, but instead of rushing to act on our judgments and publicly spar with other mothers, whether in-person or behind the safety of our screens, I think that we can actually learn from our judgments.

Take, for instance, the breastfeeding one. Whether or not you publicly admit it, you may be the type of mother who secretly thinks that breastfeeding is best, and while you would never tell anyone that, you may feel just a teensy bit sad for all formula-fed babies out there and their mothers for missing out on what has been a great experience for you.

In a way, "judging" other mothers can be just a form of helping us wade through the very vast sea of mothering options out there.

But instead of feeling badly for your judgmental ways, you may just take a step back and ask yourself what your judging says about you. You may be surprised to discover that you are not, in fact, a horrible person. It's just that your judgment may lead you to understand how breastfeeding is a top priority for you — such a priority, in fact, that it led you to make a lot of other decisions about your life, like not working, enjoying less "me" time because you can't handle the thought of leaving your baby or giving up exercising because the milk-makers hurt when they jiggle.

All of this pondering may just lead you to realize that — gasp — your priorities in life are just that: your priorities. You might secretly wonder why all moms don't breastfeed just because you love it so much, and "judging" another mother who chooses not to actually reinforces your own priorities.

So, in a way, "judging" other mothers can be just a form of helping us wade through the very vast sea of mothering options out there.

Let's face it. There are a million and one ways to parent and sometimes, it can be hard to determine how we feel about them all. I think, in a somewhat twisted way, that the way we judge other parental decisions can help us determine what is important to us as parents.

For example:

Do you have a visceral reaction to watching Alicia Silverstone pre-chew her son's food? OK, so extreme attachment parenting may not be for you.

Do you take extreme offense when another mother writes an article that she prefers to be covered up when nursing? OK, so you now know that you will have no problem breastfeeding at a restaurant without a cover-up.

Do you quip, "It must be nice to not worry about money!" to the stay-at-home mom who guiltlessly drops her kids off at the sitter's so she can work out? That judgmental bone in your body may be crying out for bringing exercise back in your life.

Do you sarcastically note to your partner that the perfectly coiffed working mother has no clue what it's like to wade in bodily excretions all day long as a job? You may just be in dire need of a break, my friend.

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I'm not saying that we all need to run around judging other parents and yelling out obscenities and breaking down the doors of people we don't agree with. All I'm saying is that when we first feel that familiar urge or knee-jerk reaction in judging another parent, we may just want to stop asking what our judgment says about them — and instead ask what all that judgment is trying to tell us.

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