Feeling Judged as a Parent?
I’m calling all you perfect parents out there, those with Ph.D.’s and parenting expert titles. If you have children that listen the first time you ask, who eat all the food on their plate, and who never have a tantrum, please do share your insights with us.
But for the rest of us out there, parenting can be a struggle of figuring out what works and what doesn’t. And once you think you’ve got your parenting methods down, your child changes. And let’s not forget about adding more children into the mix with different temperaments and personalities. Our kids are constantly changing, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that we can struggle parenting a moving target.
I’m not a parenting expert by any means, but I do try to be the best parent I can be. I think most parents would admit that they are trying to raise their kids to the best of their abilities. (I’m not referring to parents who are neglecting and abusing their children.) Yet, why do so many parents (including myself) feel like the way we are raising our kids isn’t good enough? Most of us are feeling judged as a parent.
Parenting is challenging as is, and then the way we parent is often judged by others. There are so many labels out there making parenting even tougher waters to navigate. Am I too much of a helicopter mom? Or am I a tiger mom? Maybe I’m just a #badmom and the list goes on and on. Labeling just divides us and creates parenting shame.
Brene Brown says, “Ironically, parenting is a shame and judgment minefield precisely because most of us are wading through uncertainty and self-doubt when it comes to raising our children.” Isn’t that so true! My mother-in-law always says parenting isn’t for wimps, and I can wholeheartedly agree with her.
I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling opposition in the way I raise my own kids. As parents, we have so many decisions to make for our children. Should we vaccinate? Circumcise or not? Breastfeed or formula feed? Sleep-train or not? Spank? Do time outs? What about sleepovers? Give screen-time or not? Eat organic food? Y’all this list is endless.
As parents we make decisions on behalf of our children all of the time- it’s our job. And that makes this parenting gig tricky. Often times our parenting decisions are different than the decisions our family and friends would choose. It’s easy to feel personally attacked when we see others parenting different than us, especially if they comment on the subject.
I’m not immune to those unpleasant comments that stop you in your tracks and make you feel like you’re a #badmom. I’ve had people confront me on hard issues like vaccinating my kids, circumcision, and so much more. Yes, I didn’t enjoy those conversations. At times, I second guessed our decisions that we were so adamant about.
But most of those conversations came from people who care about my kids. I doubt that they wanted to make me feel like a #badmom, they said what they said because they care. That being said, it’s hard to not take those comments personally. It feels like you’re being told you’re doing a bad job at parenting, and no one wants to hear that.
I don’t want to neglect the fact that sometimes we do need to change our parenting approach. If someone says something about how you parent that you don’t agree with, try not to take offense. There may be validity to what is being said. If that’s the case, change what you’re doing.
We all should be teachable in every area of our lives. So, if someone has a helpful comment, use it. Our kids change so quickly, so we need to be open to changing our tactics. But if their comments aren’t valid or line up with what you and your spouse believe is best for your child, keep doing what you are doing and try not to get offended by it.
So How Do We Stop Feeling Judged as a Parent?
The sad reality is that I’m guilty of fueling this judgment fire myself. I used to have such strong convictions about sleep training to the point that I thought every parent should sleep-train. Hands down, the book “Babywise” helped me navigate the early years of my children’s lives. I thrived on the routine of the plan. Instead of feeling completely clueless when it came to parenting and what my infant needed, I felt confident in what to do. If you haven’t guessed, I love routines and schedules. Knowing when my kids napped gave me the freedom to plan my day.
Needless to say, my love of sleep training got out of hand. Because the Babywise method helped me so much, I thought I should start preaching about it as if it were gospel. I earnestly wanted others to reap the benefits I experienced, yet I’m pretty sure it didn’t come across that way. Looking back in my own life, I’m guessing that most people who push their philosophy or parenting techniques on others is doing it out of helpfulness, even if it doesn’t come across like it.
I began to notice that I started to look down on parents who didn’t have their kids on a schedule. My mind couldn’t fathom that kind of existence. Honestly, just thinking about the lack of routine stresses me out. Then I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t in the majority. Most parents don’t set eight timers on their phone to remind them when their child should be awake and go to bed. Many parents would probably cringe at the rigidness in sleep training. Nonetheless, I would tell every expectant mom all about how amazing Babywise was as I touted its praise.
Then my thinking shifted. I started having real conversations with moms who didn’t parent like me, and guess what? They are doing a fabulous job and they are trying their best. Just because the sleep-scheduling method I used worked well for me and my children, doesn’t mean that every child birthed into this world should be practicing the Babywise method.
It was a reality check for me. My narrow view shouldn’t be the only way, and could you imagine every parent parenting the same way? Goodness, our society would be so boring and predictable! I’ve started to recognize and correct myself when I start going down judgment ally. It’s a nasty journey that harms others and myself.
I love this quote by Brene Brown about parenting judgment. She says, “If I feel good about my parenting, I have no interest in judging other people’s choices. If I feel good about my body, I don’t go around making fun of other people’s weight or appearance. We’re hard on each other because we’re using each other as a launching pad out of our own perceived deficiency.” Brene’s conclusion to the whole mom-shaming debacle is that we cast judgments on others because we aren’t comfortable or confident in the way we are parenting.
If you are feeling judged by the way you parent or feeling like you’re not good enough for the job, I want you to cling onto this. The truth in the matter is that God chose you, yes YOU to be the parent of your children. There is a reason your children are yours. God has equipped you to make those decisions for your children. Instead of playing the comparison game with all the other parents you see, lean into the fact that you are your child’s parent for a reason.
I truly believe that we need to stop viewing other parenting techniques and methods as the enemy that needs to be battled or debated to death. Instead of feeling like we have to have impenetrable armor and our parenting methods as our weapons, what if we became vulnerable and walked alongside other parents? What if we talked openly about our struggles without fear of feeling like a failing parent? Could you imagine having that kind of support even from parents who parent differently than you?
There is no Holy Grail parenting book or method that has all of the answers. Let’s stop viewing the way we parent as a competition. All parents struggle. We have good moments, and we have ones that we aren’t proud of. The thing is, we all are trying to raise our kids well, yet we see so many different ways to parent. It’s so easy to judge others who parent differently than we do and often times we feel like we are on the receiving end of judgment from other moms. Check out my post all about mommy judgment here.
So let’s quit labeling our parenting and feeling guilty for being a bad parent. What if instead of viewing other parenting ideas as competition, we gained insight from other perspectives? We need to focus on raising little humans that will be a positive influence on the world. We are the example our children see. So let’s stop the name-calling, judgments, and rude comments. Let’s come alongside other parents as we are raising the next generation.