My nerves are hesitant to write about this, but my heart is telling me it is something that needs to be advocated for, and a topic that may also be weighing on the hearts of other moms.
I recently read an article on Love What Matters about a mother who posted a very compelling and hopefully transforming article about the awakening she experienced from a mistake she had made. In a nutshell, this mother saw another mothering struggling to get her 10-year-old son in the car. She witnessed anger and a lot of physical fighting in the car and immediately called the police. Little did she know; this mother was the mother of an autistic son that she really struggled with, and had even asked the police for help with him in the past. The mother stated “I had the most overwhelming realization of my mistake in my eagerness to protect the child, I neglected to offer help to the mother. Instead, I turned her into authorities. We sat and watched her struggle…and I called her in.” Fast forward and this same mother who called authorities on another innocent mom found out that one of her friends, a mother that she had admired for years and even wanted to be like, had Division of Family and Child Services called on her while she was very sick in bed with a respiratory infection. This shocking news, combined with her regret for calling authorities on an innocent mom in the past, fueled this mom with empowerment to advocate for change. She concludes her article with encouragement for people to stop judging and start helping others. You can read the full article here.
Why the parenting judgement needs to stop!
An article written by Claire Learner on Zero to Three stated that “Almost all parents feel judged, almost all the time. Our Tuning In survey showed that nearly 9 in 10 parents across the board feel judged.” These statistics are alarming and quite upsetting. Parenting is hard and stressful enough; we don’t need others causing us to feel judged and like powerless parents that are afraid to make our own parenting decisions because others will criticize our decisions. The saying “it takes a village” should be extended to not only refer to one’s immediate family and caregivers, but to society as well. Moms and dads should not be victims of shaming and shouldn’t feel judged for the decisions they make to address their child’s behaviors.
It’s a muddy landscape out there. On one hand, you have people who immediately cast you as a monster for disciplining your child in public. On the other hand, if you don’t, and your child is seen as unruly and disrespectful, then you’re getting glared at by everyone around you with facial expressions deeming that you should “be a more engaged parent and step in and control your child.” It seems like no matter what choice you make, someone is going to disagree with your approach. I perceive this brutally judgmental era as a major cause for concern, particularly being that many are “scared” to parent because of the quickness of others to falsely perceive and accuse someone of addressing their child incorrectly. Knowing this causes my anxiety to take over with worry that if someone sees me doing something they perceive as an incorrect parenting technique, that the Division of Family and Child Services will be showing up on my door.
My logical mind reminds me that this is an incredibly silly thought, but then you hear and read about these stories and it’s terrifying. I have my days where I wish I had approached a situation with my children differently, but overall, I am at complete peace with how I parent. I am proud of how I parent, and I am fulfilled by the parent I am. My ultimate goal is for my children to perceive me as a noble parent, and this includes the lessons I teach them, as well as the love I provide to them.
Change needs to happen
The list of parenting decisions we have to make is endless, and unfortunately so is the judgement. Parents should be allowed to make parenting decisions based on what they feel is best for their family and their child(ren) without fearing the repercussions of what others think. With this said, I am absolutely not condoning verbal or physical violence towards children; there are instances where authorities should undeniably step in; however, there are also times where a parent is just trying to do the best they can. Instead of being immediately labeled as an “unfit” parent,
why not offer help first and judgement second?
To be brutally honest, I think everyone should take a respite from sharing their opinion on the parenting choices others’ make. The ruthless comments on social media when a parenting story blows up is terrible. It’s sad how hurtful and derogatory people can be behind a screen, and even in public. Even when words aren’t said, body language can be extremely cruel. I remember being in Target when my son was a newborn. I was wearing him and a lady in the same aisle came over and started making small talk with me. The typical questions of “how old is he?” or “are you getting any sleep?” are to be expected by any new mom, but “are you breastfeeding?” is a little too personal to ask (in my opinion). When I responded to her question with the answer of “no,” I’ll never forget her facial expression that stared back at me. She looked as though she was disgusted with me. While I didn’t say anything back to her, I wanted to cry and share with her how long and hard my husband and I had fought to have a family and that our son was adopted, so I didn’t have milk that naturally came in.
How will parents ever be able to flourish in an environment that projects negative labels of judgement and disgrace on others? Instead, how about we try doing these things:
- Let’s all focus on making our family the best it can be, and let others do the same.
- Let’s be quick to build each other up and to show compassion, empathy, and support.
- Let’s engage in acts of kindness that can yield positive benefits and can truly change the tune of one’s day, instead of casting a distasteful glare, or picking up the phone at the first glimpse of struggle.
We don’t know what someone may be struggling with, but we can positively add to and impact them through kindhearted concern and a willingness to help.