How I Learned To Stop Caring What You Think About My Parenting
One of the biggest things that bother me about being a mother is people. Don’t get me wrong, I like people. I have to like people to bring little people into the world, right? It’s primarily what people say or ask that really rubs me the wrong way, especially when it comes to parenting criticisms.
I am particularly annoyed when I, or any of my friends who are parents, quickly make excuses as to why our child is acting a certain way in public (like crying, not smiling, etc.) to save face. None of us have the heart to say, “Because they’re a baby!” or “Maybe the kid doesn’t like you!” Such excuses stem from the fear of being judged and at the end of the day, that makes no sense. But apparently, this is all too common.
According to The Daily Mail, parenting expert and author Sarah Ockwell-Smith completed a study of 600 parents, which found that 46 percent of parents did not disclose their co-sleeping habits (sharing a bed with your child) to their doctors or midwives for fear of being judged.
It’s one thing to be on the receiving end and try to preempt the disapproval, but it’s another to be the person actually doing the harm. It’s really easy and sometimes more accepted to judge someone in a situation in which you have no knowledge (like I did before I ever had kids), but it seems downright disrespectful to condemn a parent for how their children are raised. And yet, in a survey of 26,000 mothers performed by TODAY in 2011, it was revealed that 87 percent of moms judge each other.
Although I pride myself on often saying, “I don’t care what people do with their kids, they aren’t mine,” I have been just as guilty as the people who have judged me.
I will never forget the first time that I recognized how critical I was of another mother. I was boarding a plane and saw a young woman with her toddler (about two to three years old). Her toddler was holding up the process of passengers getting to their seats as his mother was not holding his hand. I impatiently thought, “Grab his hand and lead him so we can all find our seats!” His patient mother seemed to be unaware of others behind her as she was constantly letting her son navigate his way down the aisle of the plane while calmly telling him to “keep going” or “No, don’t touch that.” She had no sense of urgency.
Right after I sat in my seat, I had to check myself on my initial thoughts. Technically, there was nothing wrong with the way she handled that situation. Was she trying to teach her toddler how to listen to direction? Was that the best way to handle her child in a large crowd of people? I immediately felt guilty for even questioning her method, one that clearly worked for her and her son.
Even when people don’t mean to criticize your parenting, their constant line of questioning or barrage of unsolicited advice show otherwise. My husband and I have received remarks on everything from our strict bedtime choices to when we choose to start potty training, and don’t get me started on how many times we’ve heard “Where is that child’s mother?”
I usually find solace in the mommy Facebook groups in which I’m a follower of, and they both proudly exclaim that there they’re a “no judgment” zone. The comments and unbelievable stories are enough to fill eight seasons of a television sitcom, and also to encourage any mother in her journey. Not to mention, enough to make you second-guess your judgment of the parenting of other women.
Presently, if someone dare criticize my parenting skills, I think about the success of their kids. And since their kids are not perfect, (some even having characteristics of which I would never wish on my kids), I simply smile, nod and walk away. Because while I could tell them about themselves, as mothers, I know we’re all trying to do our best.