Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Judging Mother

By Becky Brownstein
Becky Brownstein is a  wife, mother of five, cleaning lady, chef, program/trip organizer, taxi driver, blogger and all around great gal that lives in Kingston, Pennsylvania. Visit her website at where she shares all her experiences as a mother with the motto, "When all else fails, laugh!" 

"My judging ways were backfiring on me and I didn’t even realize..."


Have you ever felt like another mother was judging you? This question is almost like asking “Do beans give you gas?” Hello! Of course (to the first question - econd question is your own business)! Becoming a mother is breeding grounds for being judged. Be it for what snacks are fed to your own kids, what method you use to put your kids to bed, what’s for dinner,  how you discipline, if their nails are cut, if their nose is clean, if they have ear wax, how often they are bathed, their behavior - IT NEVER ENDS! By writing this article I am in no way saying I am innocent. I am sure I have a long list of said judgments.

When I first became a mother I figured out my methods of “parenting.” I quote parenting, since I had a baby and a toddler and thought I knew the secrets to the trade. I didn’t. Anyone who I thought didn’t have the secrets (my own secrets), I thought, was doing it wrong. This ‘judgment’ went on for years. It caused a ruckus, sometimes, in my personal life with my personal friendships. A ruckus with your friends is not desirable one bit. After one incident I felt so terrible I couldn’t eat or sleep. My judging ways were backfiring on me and I didn’t even realize. 

With my kids getting older my parenting responsibilities changed as did my philosophies of parenting.  Anyone who thought otherwise was judged. (Typing these thoughts out makes me realize how catty and horrible it is. I am only able to type this out now, since I have come to a different realization). In our social circles we find friends with similar parenting styles and then gab about the ones whose aren’t the same. But in reality, what’s really going on is not just being judgmental, it’s insecurity. It’s the swiftest most fleeting thought of “Am I making the right decision?” that I believe fuels a lot of the judgments we make towards others. 

No one, for the most part, has any idea what they are doing. We all mess up our kids someway or another, (therapy!). Those who do know what they are doing, good for you! But be you really? Every parenting book has a different philosophy, every self help book has something else to tell you whats right. There is no real right way of doing pretty much anything! There is only instinct. Who am I to judge a woman, who has watched her child grow from the start, when I am merely a bystander, to tell her what she is doing wrong? She’s not doing anything wrong. She’s just not doing it my way, she is doing it her way and her way is the right way for her because it’s her kids. Even if the books go against her, even if our little social circle doesn’t do it that way. Her way is correct because it’s her decision, not ours. She is the one to have to deal with her decisions and her philosophies on parenting be it positive for her or a struggle. 

So you let your baby cry to sleep, you give your kid a bottle in bed, you use a time out chair, you bathe your kids everyday, you have a household chart filled with chores for your kids, your 10 year old watches your baby, you nurse your baby till he’s a year or until he’s two, they walk across the street alone, you prefer a thumb over a paci, you wouldn’t dream of ever giving a paci. etc. I have done or allowed some of these things. Maybe not all but some. Someone might be reading this and be thinking, “You let your baby cry to sleep?! That’s neglect!” Maybe to you, but not to me. 

Bottom line is, in my experience as a mother, I have come to terms with the fact that perfection is something of the movies and fiction books. We all strive for perfection when what we should really be striving for is to making it work and surviving. I know that I have a bunch of kids. I know that I am not perfect and I will make mistakes, maybe even ones that have lasting effects. I just know that I am trying the best I can, as are other mothers, and I need to stay focused on the responsibility of my very own family and not to the other mothers who might do things differently. Besides, it makes me feel un-judged. 

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