I am a bit peeved today! Not sure if it’s lack of sleep, PMT, the weather or a bit of everything, but something has gotten to me and I had to write about it.
Two words – parental judgement.
Unfortunately it’s happening everywhere, and it’s rife. And I for one, don’t like it! Now, not to say that I am perfect and everyone should “look at moi” (sorry – channelling Kath and Kim!) – I have been guilty of wielding the gavel and passing judgement on other parents before too, but I do try to either be diplomatic or just keep my opinions to myself because I know it’s wrong to judge without knowing the other person’s circumstances. I figure that it really doesn’t affect me if someone parents differently to me, it’s none of my business in the end. Oh sure, if I see a child being severely neglected or abused by their parent, then that’s a totally different story and I would definitely want to do something about it. What I am talking about today, though, is the general everyday parenting choices that people make. How people choose to raise their children. Should we pass judgement on each other? I don’t think so.
Now I am not so sure about Dads judging Dads – it probably does happen, but I am fairly oblivious to it as I don’t really see it happening in my circle of friends. What I do see though, is “mummy judgement” – at school and daycare, at kids’ sports, in playgroups and mothers’ groups, in parenting forums online and definitely on Facebook pages such as ours! It even happens before the kids are born if you go to ante-natal classes! It’s such a shame, because we should be able to go to these places and know that nobody is looking at us and talking about us behind our backs or passing judgement on what we choose to do with our kids. I never realised this happened at all before I became a mum, but we can all be our own worst enemies! When it comes down to it, we all have gone through the same thing – we have given birth, or adopted or fostered our kids. We are all PARENTS – shouldn’t that bring us together instead of isolate us? Well you would think that would be enough…..
I am not the perfect Mum…..there I said it! In fact, I am far from perfect. But my kids are turning out to be happy, well-adjusted little individuals (in my eyes anyway!) and they are very much loved by my hubby and I. I will admit that I breast fed AND eventually bottle fed both my kids (and I didn’t demand feed them); my son is circumcised; I started giving my kids solid food from four months of age; I used cloth and disposable nappies; I taught my kids to self settle (for want of a better term, I used the controlled crying technique); I went back to work part-time when they were 6 months old; I put them in daycare; both kids have been vaccinated; I yell at them, use the naughty chair and give them the occasional smack on the backside when they are naughty. I am sure there’s lots of other things I could include there but the list is long and distinguished! All in all, I have not once regretted any of the choices my hubby and I made on how we have brought up our kids so far. The only thing I do regret is that I have been judged by other mums on every single one of those choices (especially the circumcision!). I was a member of a popular parenting forum during my pregnancies and the kids’ baby years – and most of the judgement came from other mums there – and believe me it was pretty nasty what some women would say to each other behind the security of internet anonymity! Luckily, I am a thick skinned person so it was water off a duck’s back to me to begin with. The cutting comments eventually got the better of me, and despite all the wonderful online friends I made on the forum and the terrific advice I obtained, I had to leave to protect my mental and emotional state. I couldn’t believe that women could be so downright mean to each other! It really hurts.
Anyway, that is my rant, and I do feel a little better now having gotten that off my chest. All I can ask of my fellow Mummies (and Daddies) out there, is that you be nice. Not everyone will agree on parenting styles or decisions, but really, the way we parent our kids is our own business. There is not necessarily a right way or a wrong way – there are lots of different ways. What works for one will not always work for another, and you know what? That is OK! Being a parent is really bloody hard, so we need to have each others’ backs, not shout each other down.
I remember what my beloved late Gran always said to me – “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything”. There’s something in that for all of us, don’t you think?