Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mothers are the Judge and the Jury

This is a story that was in the USA Today yesterday.

So I copied the whole article.

Why do mothers judge one another and their parenting?

Andrea Moleski was at a coffee shop with her baby when they were approached by a strange woman. The conversation began innocently enough as the woman admired Moleski's baby and asked her age.

Then, the interrogation began.

The woman wanted to know if the baby, then 9 months old, was sleeping through the night.

"When I told her no, she was horrified," says Moleski, 34, who writes for a March of Dimes blog, "It was almost as if 'bad sleeper' equals 'bad mommy.' I quickly and nervously had to defend what was going on in my home to this perfect stranger."

Although mothers can provide one another with invaluable advice and understanding, they also can be quick to cut one another down, making devoted mothers feel inadequate, says Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician and mother of two.

"I call it 'competitive parenting,' " says Swanson, who writes the blog Seattle Mama Doc ( "Other parents can be so helpful. They tell you about a product and it changes your life. But they can also make you feel like junk." (Ok, if another woman made my wife feel like junk, T would kick her ass)

Though women might shrug off criticism about other aspects of their lives, many say they feel crushed when someone picks apart their parenting — the job they care about most. "We're all so desperately in love with our babies," Swanson says.

And it's tough to have a thick skin when they're exhausted, sleep-deprived and under the influence of wild hormonal fluctuations from pregnancy or nursing, says psychotherapist Jenn Berman, author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids.

"Being a mom can be scary and isolating, and we're all insecure about the job we're doing," Moleski says. "It's rare that someone tells you you're a good mom. That's why we get so defensive. It confirms our worst fears."

Many mothers struggle to recover from such criticism and with how to avoid inflicting it on others, even if unintentionally, Berman says.

Stephanie Bello, 31, a stay-at-home mom from Alexandria, Va., felt that public judgment after her 2-year-old son hit his head. On the one hand, she says, modern moms are commonly denounced for being overprotective. "But you're looked at as a bad parent if you are in the ER with your kid," she says.

Swanson vividly recalls the derision she faced whenever she fed her baby with a bottle.

"We were sitting at a playground, and a woman said to me, 'Oh, you chose not to breast-feed, I see,' " says Swanson, who was unable to nurse for several months after being hospitalized for a painful infection called mastitis. "I said, 'It wasn't my choice, but yes, he's lucky he can get formula.' " (ok so where is the statement about the bitches that make comments about breastfeeding moms who are showing thier boobs?  See, they talk about the stupid bottle feeding shit, but not the other! Just another way to make breastfeeding moms look bad)

Many modern parents feel inundated with information and overwhelmed by choices, Berman says.

Parents who have researched and agonized over their choices — such as whether to use a pacifier, co-sleeper or baby sling — may feel a need to defend them, she says. Parents may wonder: If I've made the wrong choice, does that mean I'm endangering our children?

"Oftentimes, it can seem like a threat to see someone else deciding differently," Berman says.

Parents also may feel they're getting conflicting advice.

Expert guidelines on a range of topics — such as safe sleeping positions, preventing allergic reactions and treating colds — have changed markedly in recent years. Staying on top of the latest child-rearing recommendations can be a challenge — and a badge of honor.

By the time a mother's kids are in middle school, much of what she knows about baby care may be considered out of date — or even dangerous. That can cause divisions between generations of parents, Moleski says.

A decade ago, for example, parents considered themselves progressive if they gave their kids apple juice instead of soda or Kool-Aid, she says. Today, pediatricians, concerned about empty calories, now tell parents to give their children only water or milk.

"My sister asked me when I was going to give my daughter juice," says Moleski, whose daughter is 15 months old. "I told her I'm not, and she rolled her eyes. I can tell by her reaction that I've made her feel badly, and I didn't want to."

Most mothers say they struggle to make peace with hurtful comments.

Swanson says it can help to remember that most parents are less sure of themselves than they appear. "There is no one who comes into my clinic and shuts the door and doesn't have any worries," she says. "We're all trying to get it right."

Unintended slights

Monika Phenix says most mothers don't mean to hurt, and they honestly want to help.

"I think moms love kids and they want all kids to be safe," says Phenix, 31, a stay-at-home mom from Austin. "As a mother of three, I feel like I've seen a few things. I'll see a friend who has a child, and I wish I could tell her how to help."

Psychologist Mona Spiegel, a life coach in Rockland County, N.Y., says Phenix is right to hold her tongue. Often, the best thing that a friend can offer another mom, Spiegel says, is to listen.

"It's always easier to solve someone else's problem than one's own," she says. "But we don't always need to fix things for people. We need to have more patience and compassion, for other people and ourselves."

Mothers don't need to take criticism to heart, Spiegel says.

Moms can often defuse a tense situation — and let go of hurt feelings — by considering what motivated someone to criticize them. Someone who condemns the parent of a noisy toddler, for example, may simply be revealing her own need for control and may not be the best judge of good parenting, she says.

And many slights are unintentional, says pediatrician Tanya Remer Altmann of Westlake Village, Calif., author of Mommy Calls. People may offer unsolicited advice, she says, because they really wish someone had told them what to do. (People can read stuff too)

And other mothers may be sleep-deprived, stressed-out and insecure, too, says Remer Altmann, who acknowledges that she may have unintentionally offended other parents.

"My son loves soccer, but he's the slowest kid on the field, and when the ball comes to him, he freezes," says Remer Altmann, whose son is almost 5. "Sometimes I may say, 'He's not the best athlete, but I'm sure he's the only kid out there who can read and do math.' It's because you want to make up for their losses. But my husband said, 'Don't say that, or you'll make the others feel bad that their child can't read and do math.' "

Sometimes, mothers may be happier gravitating toward parents with similar parenting styles, even if that means spending less time with people with whom they are prone to disagree, Berman says. A play date may simply go more smoothly, for example, if parents agree on which kinds of television shows to allow.

"The experience of being in a room with like-minded moms whose kids are going through similar issues developmentally is rejuvenating and healing," Berman says. "It lets you know you are normal. ... Sometimes you just need to hear from another woman that you are not crazy and that what you are feeling is normal and that your kid isn't wacko."

The best gift people can give to a mother, Moleski says, is to tell her she's doing a good job.

"We put a lot of pressure on ourselves," she says. "The parenting decisions people make all stem from the love they have for their children."

Ok so if you made it throught the whole article, thanks for your time.  It is crazy that Mom's do this.  T and I see it and im sure we do it sometimes.  T came home the other night from the store and told me about a young girl she had talked to at the store who had a very young newborn baby, maybe weeks old, I can't remember.  Anyways, the girl had rice cereal and told T, that her doc. told her she could give the baby rice cereal.  ??????  T came home and told me and says to me "I wish I would have said more to her"  "I told her that can't be right"  The girl told T, it was because the baby was not sleeping throught the night.  Oh, well.  Wonder, if she has fed the baby steak yet?

Women are crazy to begin with.  Women go at each other and say things about each other anyways.  Put thier kids in the mix, holy shit.  A war can break out.

As guys we just sit back, keep our mouths shut and hope a cat fight happens. 



Anonymous,  May 26, 2010 at 10:54 AM   Reply to

What a stupid article.

Tayarra May 26, 2010 at 12:19 PM   Reply to

It is true, some women and even men do this. I haven't experienced this close to me, but out there in the blog world it is everywhere. I try to avoid the situations. Just because one thing works for your kid doesn't mean it works for everyone's. I use to be pretty judgemental of others for taking different roads or not being "successful" at one thing. Then I had my 2nd child and realized that these aren't cookie cutter little creations we are dealing with. They are different and we need to be more accepting of how others deal with differences. Who are we to judge anyway? When a kid gets older and does something "wrong" or is sick do we really look at them and say, "oh, that is because you weren't breast fed."? (my kids were breast fed, just using that as an example)

Unknown May 26, 2010 at 1:59 PM   Reply to

It is so ridiculous that women are that way to each other. Like T, I'm afraid that if another mom said something to make me feel like junk, I'd knock the junk right out of her! That's why I love my friends. We have similarities and differences in how we each rear our children, but we don't judge each other. I'll be the first to admit that I have made judgment before and still do on occasion. Then I back up and try to put myself in that mom's shoes. I wish more women would work on uplifting each other rather than tear down. Thanks for sharing this article!

Lori May 26, 2010 at 4:01 PM   Reply to

Sometimes people have a hard time accepting that people are different. Gosh, my daughter and I are vegetarians and I can't tell you how many people look at me sideways when they that and then when I tell them we are enrolled in a public online school and school at home, they usually take a few steps backwards with that sideways look.

This was a great article, thanks for sharing.

Hey, are you guys almost done with school? May 28th is our last day for K-8 and the 27th for HS. I am SO ready for summer!

Rachel May 26, 2010 at 4:22 PM   Reply to

Parenting is a battlefield.

S.I.F. May 27, 2010 at 2:20 AM   Reply to

Um... yeah... women are crazy. Add kids in? It's way worse! I'm pretty sure this article could have been written about the forums!

roadrunner201 May 27, 2010 at 10:12 AM   Reply to

I like your point about the bottle stuff being just another way to make breastfeeding moms look bad. It's really weird to me that there is all this hullabaloo about breastfeeding moms acting superior and making formula feeding moms feel bad, but only 36% of moms are breast feeding at 6 months (down from 70% in the hospital), 17% by a year, and only 5% past 18 months.

I think that the "victim" mentality is spoon fed to these moms by formula companies. I have NEVER judged another woman's decision about how she fed her baby. Well, o.k. Maybe I would judge the one who was giving her baby rice cereal at 2 months old. Of course, rice cereal is so anemic we skipped it all together.

Helene May 27, 2010 at 11:39 AM   Reply to

I purposely split from a Mommy's playgroup because the moms were way too judgmental. I remember still suffering from sleep deprivation and PPD when Cole and Bella were maybe 6 months old and one mother read me the riot act for not finding some way to "wear" both of them at the same time. Of course, she knew someone who knew someone who had a friend who's aunt had twins and she was able to put hers in a specially crafted Baby Bjorn so she could hold them at the same time. I remember going home and crying to Tim that our kids were gonna be serial killers because I couldn't find a way to hold them at the same time, 24 hours a day.

It's such bullshit. And it pisses me off that women do this to one another.

Now, the friends I have and hang out with are all very like-minded when it comes to parenting styles. I may have had nothing in common with them before we had kids but now as moms, we've bonded simply over the fact that letting our kids eat fruit snacks one day for lunch isn't gonna kill them.

Pam L.,  May 27, 2010 at 12:30 PM   Reply to

Great article! Loved this label - 'competitive parenting'. My girls are 14 & 10, so not so little any more. I totally see and experience this "commpetitive parenting" in school and unfortunatley I feel like it's not going away any time soon.

I just attended a meeting for incoming high school students. A mom I haven't seen in nearly 3 years (our kids went to different middle schools) leans over to me, during the teachers presentation, and asks me and another friend sitting next to me, if our daughter's are taking accelerated classes? That's a loaded question - you could answer Yes, my child is smart enough to handle those classes or No, my kid's not at that level. She could've replied back - My kid is (then we could all pretend to clap and say Yeah! our kids are so smart!) or she could've said, those classes are too stressful and not for my kid! Either way you answer it's full of judgement! Why'd she have to go there? Couldn't we just be excited for the changes that are in store for our kids and not worry about who is placed where?

In about 3-4 years I know the parent dialoge around me will be - "So what college is your child attending?" and there will be judgments based on my answer.

Then there's the my child's job is, marriage status is, grandchildren status. I've seen this with my parents and in-laws and their friends/acquaintances.

Aaaggghhh! The judgements will never end! LOL!

Karen October 1, 2011 at 9:46 AM   Reply to

I was a Mom who gave my second baby rice cereal at 2 months. Sleeping wasn't his issue. Keeping food down was. He had acid reflux and could projectile vomit like no other. The rice actually helped settle his tummy and keep some of his food down. His pediatrician gave me the go for it. If it were only for sleeping through the night then that is not right, but don't be too quick to judge! Like the article says, you never know what others are going through and there truly are no two kids alike.

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