Passing On Judgement

I have a couple of friends with whom I carry on a running discussion throughout the day via text. Its awesome. Helps us feel a little less disconnected when we're stuck at home with the babies, gives us a constant sounding board, and gives us that "village" we desperately need.

One morning we were discussing how women love to judge one another. I don't know if it's an evolutionary method to cope with our own insecurities, or an errant flaw tied to that second X chromosome, but whatever the reason is, it ain't pretty.

Any time you get two women together and mention the name of a third (not in attendance), I can pretty much guaranfrickintee it that they will come up with something judgmental to say.

This especially true (and especially hurtful) when it comes to mothering.

Now I won't for a moment pretend that I am above this, but because I am so often the one doing the sucking of  wind, I try my best to remember that no matter how unorthodox the approach, as long as it isn't harmful, it's perfectly OK. Someone may be taking an approach that would not be my choice, but it doesn't have to be.

Things that I routinely hear people judge on which piss me off:

Breast feeding. When the hell did this switch from a personal choice to a socially mandated one? When Gisele Bundchen weighed in on this, I knew we had gone too far. There are plenty of moms who can't breast feed, no matter how hard they try. And plenty of emotionally grounded, perfectly healthy people out there who weren't breast fed. I have watched several of my girlfriends struggle and beat themselves up over this and it really sucks. It isn't for everyone. Deal with it.

Feeding choices in general. Vegan, vegetarian, organic, free range, sustainably harvested. Kraft, McDonald's, Chef Boyardee. Lots of choices and as a parent, it can be overwhelming. Especially when the little taste buds have opinions of their own. I am a firm believer in moderation. I may not be the Mom Of The Year, but if my kid occasionally eats French fries for lunch, it's not the end of the world.

Cleanliness. I was a bit of an anal nut. And then I had a baby. And then I was an anal nut with a baby. At a minimum, she was always spotless. And then I had a second baby. And he had acid reflux. And we didn't sleep. And my world went to hell. At this point, I am doing good if I can at least identify the various substances on each of us. Forget about constantly keeping my kids in color coordinated, spotless name brand outfits. Now I do my best to shoot for seasonally appropriate and cleanish. It works for us. And NPR recently ran an article on why it is actually BETTER for kids to be grimy, so I am am just overachieving in the "healthy" arena :-)

Punishment. This one is a pretty emotional one for most people, and for good reason. But the truth is, I honestly believe the right way to correct the child varies from child to child and parent to parent. There is no such thing as a universal approach that works for all children or all parents. The "Time Out" approach that may work beautifully with one kid may make the next laugh. I have found that the only thing that gets my kid's attention is turning Caillou off, and man does it work. Should Caillou be on in the first place? Don't judge.

Sleeping. My first kid was sleep trained by the time she was 6 weeks old. No joke. My second is getting there at 4 months, but the acid reflux is making it hard. Sleep training is a personal choice and the best approach truly depends on what works for the parents and the kid. Don't judge. You can't make the decision on the right choice for a mom, and you don't have to live with it, so suck it if you don't agree with her approach. Co-sleeping, Ferberizing, CIO, whatever works. I say as long as the mom and kid are happy, so be it. Parents have been sleep training since the beginning of time and there still hasn't been one perfect solution identified, so it isn't anyone's business what works for a particular mom (as long as it is safe).

If you have judged me through all of this, so be it. I am doing my best to raise my kids to be as happy, brilliant and healthy as possible. And I love my girlfriends who are doing the same. We may all have different approaches, but we all agonize over the decisions we are making and are taking our best guess when it comes to parenting. As my friend M says, its a "Voodoo Science". It truly is trial and error with the greatest stakes on earth, the future of someone that you love more than life.

I sincerely wish kids came with an instruction manual, it certainly would make parenting significantly easier.

S says "Judging is for Meanies"

But they don't.

So if you see a mom doing something that you disagree with, rather than judge her, why don't you take a few moments to tell her what you think she IS doing right. Because chances are that no matter how hard you are judging her, she is judging and questioning herself twice as hard.

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