We’ve all been there. We people watch and make judgments of parents and kids. At the pool, the park, a restaurant – even if we don’t say it out loud, we have had those thoughts. Things like “I would never do that” cross our mind more than once when we see kid X do action Y and parents do or don’t react how WE deem appropriate. It’s human nature.
I’ll be the first to admit – I’ve watched and judged. As a former teacher it was hard not to judge a bit when I was surrounded by kids all day. I sat in many a parent meeting where the kid’s actions suddenly made sense. Then boom there it was, the judgment monster. The worst part was I did it way before I even had a kid of my own.
Honestly, it’s a little hard not to judge someone who named their kid Rihanna Beyonce (yes I saw that back in my teacher days). But I know when to say I was wrong. Now that I have my own kid, I will be the first to say, let’s all give each other some slack!
Back before I had a kid of my own, I would use other parents as examples of what I wouldn’t do. Things I wouldn’t do included:
- Allow my kid watch an iPad or iPhone when they were still super little.
- Use my phone all the time when the baby was around me.
- Not play with my kid.
- Take my baby to a movie theater.
- Take my baby to a bar
Of course once the baby was here, some of those “nevers” turned into grey areas. Yes, I’m a former Judgmental Mom.
I’m happy to say I don’t rely on a tablet or device to distract my baby, but I can’t say he hasn’t stared intently at the screen while video chatting with his grandparents who live out of state. As for not using my phone all the time, well I do use it often to document important baby moments or just to snap a picture.
Do I play with him? Of course I play with him, but I’ve also realized that it’s okay to set him on the ground without me sitting right next to him as he rolls around and practices crawling. Take him to a theater? In my opinion I still think people shouldn’t do that. Luckily I discovered that Alamo Drafthouse does Baby Day on Tuesday showings before 2 P.M. The expectation is that babies will cry. And as far as taking him to a bar…it’s not like I took him down to Sixth Street, but we did take him to a local brewery that was very family friendly with kids running all over the place.
On the flip side, I’ve been on the other side of those judgments.
The one time my son had a fever, extended family was around offering their advice on what to do. At one point, I had to actively remind my husband that I’m the mommy and he is the daddy. I reminded him that WE decide what we will do if or when our baby gets sick.
I’ve been judged from here to eternity about my son’s sleep routine and schedule. I’ve been judged about breastfeeding. I’ve been judged about having a c-section (which wasn’t like it was even in my control). I’ve also been judged about his name. It’s always fun when someone tells you they don’t like your baby’s name.
My point here is this, we can’t stop judgments from happening. I actually think it’s an important part of being a parent. It lets us explore potential scenarios to help decide what we would do if put into those situations. However, I think it is very important that we not get preachy with our judgments.
We don’t need to let every parent know how we would do it. We are all welcome to raise our kids the way we see fit. Plus you never know what that mommy or daddy went through the night before. Maybe they were up all night with a teething baby and the only way they get 30 minutes to themselves is by letting Junior watch a short cartoon on an iPad.
We are all trying our best at this parenting game and it is hard. So so hard. Nothing like raising a puppy. So next time your mind jumps to judging that mommy at the grocery store whose kid is kicking and screaming on the ground, maybe give her some words of encouragement or ask her if she needs any help instead of giving her that judgmental stare down. Who knows? You might just make her already tough day a little better.
Now say it with me: I am doing an amazing job at this parenting thing no matter what anyone says. *Cue the screaming child.*