Motherhood means always having to say your sorry. Well, not quite that. But it does put you in a position of receiving judgment for choices you make in how you raise your kids. It's exhausting to get looks, questions and comments alluding to all the mistakes you're making. What if everyone just stopped?
For instance, why do people have so many opinions about moms whose babies use pacifiers? The pacifier baby isn't complaining (unless you take her little mouth plug away). Can't pacifier haters pick on someone their own size?
And maybe back away from babies who drink formula from bottles. Bottle-fed babies love not being hungry, they love growing from good nutrition, they're not here for your sad stories about immune systems, future test scores and their relationships with their mothers. They'd stick their tongues out at those who judge, but they've got a bottle they're working on.
You think you've got problems, bottle-fed baby? What about your best bud, the breast-fed toddler? Now that's a kid who gets some stares, hostility and pushy advice about appropriate behavior. Extended breastfeeders would really prefer less focus on their chests and a little more eye contact from a fellow, judgment-free mom.
Ever notice how moms who go out and get minivans often apologize in advance and frequently revisit their professed love for said vehicle? It's because they get judged. Yeah, maybe not every space is filled for every trip. Maybe it's not cool and sporty like a Subaru Outback. But she'd like to ask you before a judgmental word is uttered from your lips: Who's the first person you call for carpool? Mmm-hmm—the minivan mom.
Incredibly, a personal decision about a medical procedure is everyone's business. A mom's interest in trying to give birth without anesthesia is, for some people, not made with regard to her health. Rather it's a statement about what everyone else is doing in their labor and delivery room. Sometimes a birth without intervention is just that: a birth ... without intervention. Other women's births aren't part of her equation.
Moms who scheduled their C-sections, or accepted their doctor's recommendation that the baby be born surgically, would prefer you turn that judgment-filled frown upside down. Women don't owe others an explanation for their choices. They deserve to be listened to, celebrated and supported—whatever her situation calls for.
Some moms have to return to work after having a baby, even when they don't want to. Some moms have a choice whether or not to return, and they really, really want to go back to their jobs. Those women often use childcare. Neither of these women needs your commentary about how you'd never "let someone else" raise your kid.
It's a surprise to many who hold strict ideas about how kids should be raised that people have different values for themselves and their kids. And that's OK—great even. But moms whose values aren't in sync with others would rather just go about parenting their kids and not have to field your concerns about how they see things and what they're doing. Keep your disappointment to yourself.
Opting out of traditional school settings is the right choice for many families. They'd like you to know that you shouldn't worry about their kids' ability to socialize, be disciplined or find their way in an office setting.
"We don't give our kids soda," say judgy parents who are watching your child drink a soda. It gets annoying.
"I guess we're killing our kids with pesticide-soaked salads and fruits," say parents who are watching your child eat organic fruit blended into yogurt made from grass-fed cows. Parents who prefer organic produce and meats are tired of feeling defensive about it.
If your child hasn't thrown a tantrum in public, some say you're not parenting right. And yet, when it does happen, the comments and looks from others would have you believe you're one tear away from getting child services called on you. Kids get tired, they get hungry, they get fussy. Often, they don't yet have the words or developed sense of self to express their discomfort in calm, even tones.
There are so many books and articles on how to get your child to sleep, yet every child is different. For some families, sticking to a strict sleep schedule is what works. So, they're pretty tired of hearing that their child won't adapt to the real world or will miss out on everything if she goes to bed "that early" or is "still taking naps."
And then, there are the night owls. Parents of kids with later bedtimes are tired of being shamed for letting their children stay up, sleep in and skip naps. They've heard about all the studies, thanks. Yes, they'd like some adults-only time. Sure, they've tried everything. And now they'd just like to be left alone.
Women would like to make their own work-life balance decisions, but thanks for all the judgment on not returning to work after the birth of their child. Inadequate maternity leaves, college tuition-level daycare costs or the need to take things at a less hectic pace are factors parents take into consideration when deciding what to do after kids. The fact that you "could never do that" isn't helpful.
Also not helpful? Telling a working mom, "I don't want someone else raising my kid." Daycare isn't a prison. Parenting happens 24-7, not just during office hours.
Parents have enough to worry about that they don't need the judges to pile on about milestones. Crawling, potty-training, reading before 3? Self-appointed experts want you to panic. The experts want you to know that milestones are a range, a sequence. If you're worried, go get your child tested. But the fact that your 1-year-old doesn't yet have teeth has nothing to do with the fact that you let them play with an iPad at dinner.
Honestly, judgment around women is persistent and pervasive, and a favorite to go after moms for is what she's wearing. Moms have, presumably, been dressing themselves for years before they went and had a baby. They don't need your approval to wear yoga pants or Danskin clogs or flip-flops in February. You're not the boss of them. Just the judge. And guess what, you sometimes wear yoga pants to the store, too.
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