Childrearing

Being A Mother Has Made Me More Judgmental

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In many ways, giving birth to my first child made me so much more understanding of parents. I used to think negative thoughts every time I sat next to a crying child on a plane. Then God gave me children who were not uniformly perfect on planes. I used to think that people who co-slept with their children might be dangerous and/or unable to separate themselves from their spawn. Then God gave me a child only able to sleep while in close proximity to my heartbeat. And in general, I’ve become much more understanding of the difficulties of navigating strollers through city streets, parents being tired or distracted or out of it, and the way little kids can wreak havoc on housekeeping.

But in other ways, I’ve become so much more judgmental.

It’s sort of like how being a waitress will simultaneously make you more tolerant and more demanding in restaurants. Anyone whose worked for tips at tables knows that sometimes there’s a snafu in the kitchen that will delay a meal or that a particularly heavy rush can lead to confusion over drink orders. But waitstaff also know that some wait times are unacceptable, some meals should never be served and some attitudes should never be expressed to a customer.

That’s how I feel about those leashes that some people put their kids on. I’m totally cool with this if you have a child with an honest-to-goodness behavioral problem. But I do secretly judge those parents who simply can’t teach their children not to run away or into city streets. I’m not saying that some kids aren’t rambunctious or poor listeners or that disciplining them to control themselves is easy. But still. It’s a leash.

Here are a few other things that I’m more judgmental about:

Parents who negotiate with their children. Just yesterday, I heard a father in the park tell his daughter not to stand up in her stroller. “But Dad, I really want to!” she whined. “OK, just this once,” he said. Are you freaking kidding me? Never, ever negotiate with a terrorist or a toddler. I knew that before I had children. But now that I’ve lived with them for a few years, I just want to shake the parent and point out how illogical it is to reward a child for whining. Even better, my friend told me he was recently getting his hair cut in a barbershop. This little boy got his hair cut and then was playing with a toy. My friend figured the boy and his mother were waiting for another family member as 20 minutes passed. Then he realized that the boy got to keep playing with the toy simply because his mother didn’t want to make him mad. She kept saying, “Are you done? Do you want to go now?” And the boy would say, “NO! I AM PLAYING!” The mother would retire meekly for another five minutes until she asked the kid again. This happened three times until finally she said “Do you want to go get ice cream?” That’s not how parenting works.

Parents who fail to teach their children table manners. Is there anything worse than hearing some snotty kid bang his freaking spoon on the table non-stop while you’re trying to eat? Or hearing some kid have a temper tantrum at the booth behind yours? Or even watching a family quietly eat a dinner because Sally and Johnny have been sedated with an iPad or DVD player? Your job as a parent extends to teaching your children how to eat out in a civilized fashion. I’m not saying my children are perfect. They’re not. Not by a long shot. However, the moment they make someone else’s dinner uncomfortable, they get in trouble. And they’re learning and they’re able to eat at pretty much any restaurant now. It’s not the presence of a tantrum or a banging spoon or whatever that bothers me, either. That stuff happens. It’s watching some parents do nothing about it. Chaps my hide. And yes, I sometimes have a horrific headache after trying to manage my children at a restaurant, but I know it’s going to pay off in the long run when we have nice meals as a family for years to come.

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40 Comments

  1. Justme

    June 12, 2012 at 10:07 am

    I had this conversation with my husband just yesterday as the two boys wrestled loudly in a booth at lunch while their mother played on her cell phone and ignored them. Maybe it was an emergency text and there was a situation she had to attend to immediately. Or maybe it was just a really good level of Angry Birds.

    But in all seriousness, you’re probably going to get some hateful responses about how we as women need to support each other and not judge so harshly….but I have to agree with you on a lot of your points.

    I have family members who do just about everything on that list and quite frankly, my husband and I are hesitant to be around them or their children because of the behavior of the children. We are all supposed to sit around and be okay with the fact that you choose not to teach your child proper manners but yet no one else can reprimand your child when he or she burps, screeches, or hides under the table at Christmas dinner?! No thank you.

  2. Ipsedixit

    June 12, 2012 at 10:09 am

    AMEN!

  3. Frances

    June 12, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I get where you’re coming from with most of these (especially the reading one) but as a fellow stranger in the park, you can judge my copious use of sunscreen on my kids all you want. You weren’t there to watch my mother almost die of skin cancer. In fact most of these are very subjective. You don’t know if that uncomfortable moment you are witnessing is showcasing a parenting choice or simply a bad day.

    People like you make me hate going anywhere because my anxiety over worrying about making a mistake in public with my kids ruins everything for me. It’s more MY issue than yours but perhaps you should have a bit more compassion.

    • yeah, but

      June 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      I think she only made the sunscreen comment to underscore the fact that people–parents in particular– have become ridiculous about “protecting” kids. in fact, I’m fairly certain that I if I could make a play suit of bubble wrap, I’d make a zillion dollars.

      Also, I think your comment about how “people like make hate going anywhere” because you’re so worried about how you’re perceived underscores another problem we seem to have– we’re all so terribly worried about what other people think about us. And this, I think, relates directly to parents not putting a stop to crappy behavior in the first place– “Oh, but what will my kid think of ME? They might not like me.”

      Hopefully by the time you’ve become an adult, and especially by the time you’ve become a parent, you’ve stopped worrying so much about what other people think of you. Hopefully you’ve developed a good sense of self (this is NOT to mean you should do whatever you want– I mean a good sense of self as a member of a society) and no longer really care whether your decisions in life are popular. I think it will kill two birds with one stone– you’ll be able to intervene with your kids, and you won’t be so panicked about what some other person thinks about your situation.

  4. Nikkie

    June 12, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I agree with everything you put on here…except the sunblock thing. I am very fair skinned and sadly the kiddos have gotten my complexion. Meaning that more than 10 minutes in the sun, even just riding in our car to grandma’s leaves us all looking pink. So I am the crazy sunblock mom. Sanitizer is pointless they are kids, they are going to be in something. ha ha. Seriously though, parents need to stop catering to children because they might have a meltdown and stop being angry when another adult corrects your kid for using the “f” word and the world will be a better place.

  5. Mollie Hemingway

    June 12, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I’m a fan of sunblock. It’s just the overuse that annoys me. I mean, no one wants their children to get melanoma, obviously, but do we really need to slather it on while running to the grocery story as opposed to while at the park or beach? Sunblock in moderation, that’s my rallying cry.

    • Frances

      June 12, 2012 at 11:16 am

      I do get where you’re coming from, but yes the AAD does recommend that everyone wear is every day, especially kids. The sooner you start to tackle sun damage the less likely there will be issues later on.

      http://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreens

    • Another Steph

      June 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      I live in the skin cancer capital of the world. I can and have gotten a sunburn waiting for a bus. So yes, I’ll slather it all over myself and my child as we run from the car to the supermarket, and honestly, what freaking business is it of yours?

    • LiteBrite

      June 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      Actually some of us DO have to slather it all over ourselves and our kids while running to the grocery store. I’m fair-skinned with red hair. I burn with 55+ SPF on. (I’m not exaggerating either. I really have gotten a sunburn while wearing 55.) My son inherited my skin type, and I will unashamedly say sunblock is one of the few things I’m a total helicopter mom about.

    • Ipsedixit

      June 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      As a fellow ginger with a fair complexion, I’ve never had a burn from running into the grocery store. My weirdest one was while riding in a car on a long road trip. I’ve also gotten burned using SPF 55, although only in the summer. Now I go with baby sunscreen even though it’s so thick I feel like I’m putting on a shirt.

      I wear sunscreen when I’m out working on the yard, at the beach, a game, or in the summer when I might be exposed for long periods of time, but I’ve never had it where I’ve needed to wear it literally from walking from my car to the store.

    • LiteBrite

      June 13, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      @Ipsedixit, last summer I got a slight sunburn from driving the five minutes (or less) from a salon to my house. Now, granted, I was in a convertible (and I was wearing all black), but still, it does happen that fast sometimes. (And I live in the Upper Midwest, not exactly the sun capital of the world.)

      Personally I hate sunscreen, and I hate trying to put it on a squirmy, complaining 4 year-old even more. But I’ve had enough burns in my life to know the alternative is worse. I do wish sometimes that I had my best friend’s complexion. She’s of Italian descent, rarely wears sunscreen, and has never had a sunburn in her life.

  6. Lucy

    June 12, 2012 at 11:15 am

    You know what I judge? Mothers who are total judgemental cunts who know nothing about the situation or experiences about the person they are judging. I also judge mothers who feel superior enough in their mothering to write a snide, hateful blog about it. Congratulations on your parenting skills Mollie, you are clearly better than the rest of us.

    • Mollie Hemingway

      June 12, 2012 at 11:17 am

      Eloquently put.

    • Justme

      June 12, 2012 at 11:34 am

      And there she is…..

    • Michelle

      June 12, 2012 at 11:44 am

      Jeez Lucy, tell us how you really feel.

    • ipsedixit

      June 12, 2012 at 11:44 am

      Oh, Lucy. Let me guess….nothing is *everrrrr* your fault. You’re the first person to pull out the “you don’t even know!” card when confronted with you or your children’s behavior because its easier to deflect then take responsibility. You realize you just got defensive over a “blog post”? You don’t need to know the epic timeline of someone’s life events to make a determination of how you feel about someone’s decisions. That’s an excuse perpetuated by people who don’t like to take responsibility for their actions, or lack thereof. We all judge. It’s nature. Would I call someone out on it? Probably not, unless it was affecting me. But internally, yes.

      I can tell when a parent is being proactive, when they are correcting horrendous behavior, when they are stopping their children from annoying everyone around them, when they can’t carry on a conversation except when it relates to their children, when they determine Bentley/Lexus/Car-I-Can’t-Afford-but-it-sounds-Classy is a genius because they parroted a word they learned off Dora. It doesn’t take a whole lot of background to determine whether a parent cares or not when it relates to their kids and society.

      My sister was mentally handicapped. You know what? My parents could’ve pulled the “you don’t know!” card numerous times. Instead, they didn’t make excuses for bad behavior for *any* of their kids, they corrected it and moved on.

    • OverIt

      September 8, 2013 at 7:21 am

      Um, “You realize you just got defensive over a ‘blog post’?” Really? And the irony hits yooooooou now. Come on. I get annoyed and a tad judgmental of other parents as well, but you’re kind of taking it to another level. Chill. Out. It’s really not your job to parent any children other than your own, whom I’m sure are perfect in every possible way. You don’t think when my kid shrieks like mad for one more cracker on a bus full of people, that it doesn’t take every fiber in my being to give in to her just so that she will keep the peace for two more minutes? You may say that I’ve “lost control of the situation,” but I say I’m teaching her that “no” means “NO!” Unfortunate as it is that you have to be privy to her learning experience, should such a scenario never occur then she never learns how to cope which such conundrums in the future, when she’s older, and the consequences more severe. Get over yourself. If there is one thing you should know from raising a kids, it’s patience. We have enough childless adults judging our children’s behavior, we don’t need one more of our own to add to it.

  7. Lindsay Cross

    June 12, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Ever since I became a mom, I judge smokers so much more than I used to. I was an idiot in high school and even early college who smoked because it made me feel super grown-up. Then I kind of realized that it was gross. But given that I was an idiot once, I tried not to be too harsh and obnoxious. A friend of mine once complained that the person in the car next to us was smoking and she could smell it. I felt like that was a little too far.

    Now, if I run in to people who smoke within 50 ft of a child, I have automatic bitch glare come across my face. The parents who stay in their cars to have a cigarette in the park parking lot. Sure its better than doing it on the playground, but I still get judgey.

    There are plenty of others of course, but the smoking thing is a big one.

  8. Amy

    June 12, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    An article is posted about a judgemental celebrity and w’ere told that we should instead be supportive of other mothers because you never know their situation, then an article immediately follows it that showcases all the ways it is acceptable to be judgemental of other mothers because it’s okay to make assumptions about their situation.

    I think y’all need a mission statement or something.

    • Another Steph

      June 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      I think this all the time! Sure it’s great to get a range of different opinions, but it’s ridiculous and unprofessional to tear the readers to shreds for doing something that another writer does the very next day.

    • Mrs. Lynn

      June 13, 2012 at 8:16 am

      Different writers, different opinions. Deal with it.

    • Amy

      June 13, 2012 at 11:18 am

      @ Mrs. Lynn

      Except that the author of the previous article posted here about her “mommy judgements”…

  9. Robbie

    June 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    I once was told I should be slapped after asking a 5 year old to stop climbing all over my hostess stand. Apparently stopping him from falling or breaking stuff is something I am to be ashamed of (the mom actually said that I was ignorant and my mom should be ashamed of me).

    I get it, you are the parent, I am not one and you know your kid better than I do. But if you won’t stop you child from doing something dangerous,I will. And for the record, my mama was proud of me :p.

    In terms of sunblock, I am a bit more religous about it than others. But I am also a redhead who needs spf 60, and I work at a day care centre now where sunscreen is non-negotiable. But that’s just my experience. I agree with the rest of this blog completely 🙂

  10. Beth

    June 12, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    I was much more judgmental when I had only one child. The challenges of having two kids have sucked me more into my own world. These days I don’t really think about how other people parent and, quite frankly, don’t notice. The one thing I am still judgmental about is hitting children–I’m not a fan of the practice since we aren’t supposed to hit each other as adults. However, I can understand getting fed up and frustrated and hitting a child– not that it’s right, but I’ve almost gotten there myself. Anyone else live in too much of a bubble to be judgmental?

  11. CW

    June 13, 2012 at 1:41 am

    I felt the same way as you did about the leash until I had a second child and was trying to deal with a toddler and a newborn. We lived in an urban neighborhood at the time and the double stroller was simply too big & bulky for most of our daily running around. I would wear the baby in the sling and put my toddler on the leash. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

    • smishsmash

      June 13, 2012 at 11:22 pm

      Yeah, due to the miracle of multiples, my mom had three kids in under two years. Your choices when they get to the age when they will all collectively start trundling off in opposite directions, often towards the path of traffic, is pretty much leashes or deciding which kid you like the best. Leashes have their uses!

    • whiteroses

      June 14, 2012 at 6:23 am

      I was an extremely active, friendly child who didn’t speak much. Combine those together and you have a kid who was constantly going off to explore things without my mother even recognizing that I was gone. My family referred to me as “The Stealth Ninja” because I could get out of my stroller in less than a minute and was out the supermarket door in less than three. My mother once found me trying to get in a Cadillac with an older woman who looked a lot like my grandmother.

      So, yeah. I got put on a leash AND a back strap after that little incident. And I don’t think my mother regretted it for a second.

  12. laughingapricots

    June 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Sometimes I wonder if I feel judgmental about some of the themes mentioned in the article because really I feel some type of resentment. For example not giving into a toddler tyrant is a very difficult thing to do, especially in public but it’s obviously worth it to stand your ground as a parent. Do I somehow resent these other parents for taking the easy way out? Also, no one will approach you to share a positive comment about how you handle a parental situation but they’ll be quick to jump across the playground to wag their finger.

    Currently, I’ve found myself being very judgmental about education. My niece turned 5 in April and as of today, her school district doesn’t even know she exists. Her parents have no plans to homeschool her. They believe the school district will magically find their daughter before September and take care of everything. She’s never been to any type of pre-school or story hour and has been raised by Nick Jr. They do not read to her. It breaks my heart but if anyone in our family says anything, the backlash is severe. I just can’t comprehend not being interested or invested in your child’s education. And that is my Judgmental Mommy Rant of the day.

  13. Sally

    June 13, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Confession: I judge parents of fat kids. Your child is not old enough to go to the store on their own and pick out fresh healthy foods. It is your responsiblity as a parent to do this for them. Put down the baby bottle of juice, skip McDonald’s, and get a veggie or two in your kid.

    Does this make me a bad person?

    • CW

      June 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm

      I don’t automatically judge fat people, but I definitely judge fat people who eat crap. Someone could eat a totally healthy diet and exercise regularly but still not have the genes to be thin. I have a good friend who competes in triathlons and eats super-healthy but still is about 30 lbs. overweight. Totally screwed over in the genetics department. But her sisters who are not active and don’t eat healthy are all morbidly obese. They all share the bad genetics, but lifestyle makes the difference between being somewhat overweight and morbidly so.

  14. Diamond

    June 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Oh, the braggy parents are the ones who bother me. I really don’t mind hearing something once but I have one friend who will tell me the same thins about her kids repeatedly. The other day, I talked to her for about 30 min. During this short time period, she managed to tell me 3 times that her daughter had a really fast time in the swim meet that day. What am I supposed to say after the first time? Sure, I’m happy her daughter did well but I’m never going to be as happy as she is. Hearing it once is plenty for me! And then she will also go on about how the other kids are such horrible swimmers. Um, just because not every kid is as fast as yours doesn’t mean that they are horrible.

  15. rose

    June 13, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    As an elementary teacher, and not a parent, you have summed up eloquently many of the things that frustrate teachers about parents. We don’t judge but we do see the damage that many of these parental behaviors do to children – and we see the difference for children whose parents manage to avoid many of these parenting problems. The saddest part is that it is often with good intentions – of course every normal parent wants to keep their child safe, make sure he/she knows he is special and loved, and try to keep him or her happy.

    However, it really can mess up children when they:

    are treated as the centre of the universe at all times

    never have boundaries enforced

    are bowed down to and appeased at all times

    are rewarded for bad behaviour

    are disciplined only with empty threats that are never carried out

    never spend time reading or listening to a story with a parent, or actually much time with them at all other than watching TV while mum is in the same room on her Facebook.

    are completely overprotected and unable to assess risks by themselves, or to have the confidence to do regular kid things. (By assessing risks, I mean things like judging whether a particular piece of playground equipment is within his/her capacities).

    have parents who refuse to accept that their child can do anything wrong, and who actively interfere when their child is reprimanded at school, even when the child is clearly wrong (and has usually accepted what he/she did and the sanction before going home!)

    are treated like they can do no wrong and would never, ever, lie to get out of trouble, however many times the child has done this in the past

    have parents who try to remove justly imposed sanctions for unacceptable behaviour at school.

    have parents who micro manage every aspect of their child’s life and deny them opportunities to become independent and sort things out themselves at an appropriate level for their age and development.

  16. Ange

    June 13, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Yes to the mothers who flip out at their kids being corrected!

    I’ve always noticed those sorts of women use the ‘it takes a village’ line when it suits them (ie when they want someone else to deal with their spawn) but the second it’s used against them you’re the worst in the world.

  17. Heather

    June 14, 2012 at 12:47 am

    Well, you can’t have it both ways. If you don’t want my toddler freaking out or running around the restaurant when he gets bored (waiting for the bill, every time) but you’re going to silently judge my use of the phone to keep him occupied, what choice do I have? Dine and dash? Never have a meal in public until he’s of an age to understand? I go to family-friendly restaurants, at an early hour, and keep him quiet and restrained and distracted. He’s a good little diner who says please and thank you and doesn’t generally make a huge mess. If watching some Elmo on YouTube is what it takes to keep him happy for the extra 10 minutes it takes to pay and get the hell out of there, I’m fine with it. Maybe you should mind your own business.

    • Beth

      June 14, 2012 at 9:09 am

      ITA– seriously. I use distractions like the cell phone to keep my active little boy occupied in a restaurant as a last resort. Sure, I would like it if he understood the concept of “behave” in a restaurant and I try my best to get him to do it, but I would rather he be rewarded at the end of the meal for having behaved himself with a few videos than drive everyone in the restaurant nuts. Fine, judge me. I don’t care.

    • Justme

      June 14, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Somehow, someway….my parents were able to keep small children entertained while waiting for the bill to arrive at a restaurant before the cell phone. And if the child doesn’t want to be patient and wait, then take them outside to wait or to the car. Stop using your phone as a crutch.

    • Mya

      June 14, 2012 at 6:09 pm

      Read again. She was referring to using electronics DURING the meal, instead of talking and interacting. Ugh.

  18. The Mommy Psychologist

    June 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Here’s my experience with all things motherhood. We never know how we will handle a parenting situation until we find ourselves in the situation. I let go of all my “what I would do” a long time ago when I discovered what I thought I would do before I had kids or before my kids were at the stage and what I did do once I had kids was very different at times.

    “The child psychologist who thought she had all the answers to parenting until she became one herself.” http://www.themommypsychologist.com

  19. Fred

    June 22, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I understand fair skin and sunscreen but the latest word (which hopefully won’t change next week) is that sun produced Vitamin D which is invaluable for our bodies so if you can survive a little sun then do so.

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