Parenting: Why is there so much judgement?

I’ve written before about how fantastic I’ve found online parenting groups in helping me to muddle my way through the early days of raising my little boy. I’ve found them to be incredible sources of wisdom about the little things and places where I can gripe about how many times he was up last night and not get “Well, you knew what you were signing up for”. There have been many days where I’ve read blogs written by fellow Irish Parenting Bloggers when they’ve expressed their frustration or written about their days of everything going wrong and I’ve laughed hysterically or cried along with them, thanking every god out there that it isn’t just me, it isn’t my child and I’m not a bad Mammy because it is happening to other people.

Parenting- Trial By Jury Of Your Peers - Judgement by Others

This is a tough job. It is certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m a woman who likes her sleep, and her own me-time, and I used to live for being able to go off and do my own thing when the urge struck me. To now have this little person so dependent on me being there all the time has been a time of massive change and it hasn’t been the easiest transformation into some semblance of SuperMammy by any stretch of the imagination. For this reason, I’ve become dependant on these other women online who share my experiences and understand where I’m coming from.

For this reason, I’m even more dismayed by what I’ve been noticing lately in some of the communities I’m involved in. Other parents judging rather harshly the parenting choices or the actions of others, and quite blatantly making them feel like crap about themselves, their children and their parenting skills. Of course, I’ve already seen this with the “Formula is feeding your baby poison” brigade from when I was giving up breastfeeding, but as he’s growing older it is starting to seep into more and more of the groups that I’ve frequented. It seems that it is their way or the highway, which is all well and good if you know what you’re talking about and it is for genuine reasons (i.e., deliberate trolling of threads) that you wish others not to contribute, but unfortunately it is the starter-outers, the new mothers, those willing to take a look and see if they like what is being discussed coming from other points of view – it is those who bear the brunt of the harsh words and the tone of superiority coming from some of those posters.

I’ve seen posts put up by frustrated mothers venting which wound up in their parenting skills being called into question. Not on. Mothers giving what I would consider helpful advice about baby wearing and the types of carriers recommended for hip health in infants, who get the internet version of screamed at by others for “being superior” despite the helpful tone of their post. Again, not on. We’re all walking down this road together but it seems that some people feel they can only get ahead by knocking others into the mud. It’s bad enough enduring the looks and judgement of non-parents when you have your screaming teething child in the shop, but to get the same type of criticism from people who really should know better, who have been in your shoes, that is another thing altogether.

As I’ve said in a previous post, I was interested in baby wearing, it just didn’t work out for us after a few months as E has inherited my need for personal space (and kicking room). I found these parenting groups a fantastic help with that, I was able to ask questions and bounce ideas off others. When it came to weaning, I started out down the traditional route of purees. After a bit, I started gaining a bit more of an interest in Baby Led Weaning, after seeing it mentioned by a few other parenting blogs. Like everything, I looked for Facebook groups of likeminded parents, and this is where I hit a wall – it seemed that in some of these groups, certain individuals (not all, but a fair few) looked down on any one who spoon fed, used purees or started their baby earlier than 6 months on solids. Without even commenting once on the page, just from reading responses to others and comments in threads, I felt as if I couldn’t ask questions without facing the judgement of these fellow parents. That isn’t helpful – if you’re open to learning and asking questions, you shouldn’t be shouted down just because of where you’re coming from – whether that makes you a breastfeeding parent, formula, puree or BLW, baby carrier or (gasp) a mammy who puts her baby in the buggy…

It’s like we’re all back in school again in some respects. Again, I re-iterate that for the most part these groups are a fantastic resource, and definitely I can say they’ve made many a diabolical parenting day better for me; whether it was providing a fix to a problem I was having, reassuring me that something was normal, or merely providing a safe haven to vent. It is just a pity that the minority in some cases can use negativity and harsh judgement of others to ruin these for others; to make others feel like crap and doubt their abilities more than they already do.

We’re all in the same boat, all in the glasshouse, but some feel it a good idea to throw stones. Lay off each other, if you can’t say something nice or productive, don’t say it at all, and judge not lest ye be judged – it IS that simple.

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Hanging out on Facebook.

Judgement of Parents

 

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19 Comments

  1. October 5, 2014 / 8:42 pm

    Here here! You’re so right. I think it’s the third time mama in me speaking but I’ve muted a good number of groups I’m in because I hate the showers of negativity that so often rain down.
    In real life I’m beginning to realise that nobody really minds / cares what anyone else is doing. But online there’s a ramped up nastiness probably aided by the anonymous nature of commenters. It’s nasty and bloody unhelpful.
    A lot more live and let live is needed.
    Well done.

    • October 5, 2014 / 8:46 pm

      I’ve noticed a lot less judgement in real life, generally you can spot other parents a mile off when your child is having a meltdown because they’re the ones that offer a sympathetic smile or stop to hold the door. Definitely have muted one or two groups for it – I’ve found the negatives outweigh the positives, and nobody needs that in their lives! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment 🙂

  2. October 5, 2014 / 8:42 pm

    Totally agree!!!
    Being a momma is hard enough. We need to all support each other!
    Great post x

    • October 5, 2014 / 8:45 pm

      Exactly – my take on it is that we all know how bloody hard it can be and how testing it can be on our nerves and tempers – so why make it harder on each other by being nasty and negative? Totally unnecessary and actually quite mean, when you realise that they know what they’re doing…

  3. October 5, 2014 / 8:48 pm

    It is four years since I last had a baby. Things have gotten HARDCORE since then. Whereas judgment used to be contained to certain areas of parenting now it is everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Birth,feeding, weaning, carrying, which carrier and on and on and on and on it goes. I can imagine its a difficult minefield to negotiate as a first time parent.
    Thankfully its my fourth child so I get to judge everyone’s choices 😉

    Great post. Agree wholeheartedly.

    • October 5, 2014 / 9:20 pm

      * I didn’t mean that bit about judging everyone’s choices

      • October 5, 2014 / 9:52 pm

        Haha, you’ve earned that right – but theres a way to do it without making others feel like crap, which the majority of people manage but some really need to work at! Minefield is definitely the word for it, in some cases it is say the wrong thing out of pure ineptitude and get your head bitten off!

  4. October 5, 2014 / 10:41 pm

    Here here! Couldn’t have said it better myself, I find all if this judging and negativity towards fellow mums disheartening. Let’s all stick together and weather the good and the bad together, in a positive way 🙂

    • October 5, 2014 / 10:46 pm

      Exactly! 🙂 It can only make things easier…

  5. October 5, 2014 / 11:33 pm

    Oh totally agree I’ve started spending the bear minimum amount of time on Facebook and in groups lately as the negativity just wears me down, not nice at all..

  6. October 5, 2014 / 11:34 pm

    Nice post, and I agree with you. My babies are all grown, and children are a delight. But, moms should enjoy our own children and keep our opinions about others to ourselves. It’s really not my business to tell another mom how to feed or carry her baby. Who cares? Let’s all love our babies the way we feel is best.

  7. October 6, 2014 / 9:12 am

    I have the same problem in special needs parenting groups, and have had to drop out of a lot of them, because they’re so judgemental, even though there is useful information there too. Some of the posts would make feel so bad, I would be in tears x

  8. October 6, 2014 / 11:33 am

    This is all so true. I’m a breast feeder & a baby wearer but would never pass my judgements on as what suits me might not suit another and a happy mummy means a happy baby so it’s what ever works for you. Lovely honest post, thanks for sharing

  9. October 6, 2014 / 3:28 pm

    Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more! When you first become a mum, you realise everyone has an opinion on how to parent – and everyone is convinced their way is right! It’s definitely more noticeable online, maybe because of the safety of anonymity. But the longer I’m a mum, the more I realise that the only important thing is whether it’s right for me and my family. I’m much more confident second time round! #mummymonday

  10. October 6, 2014 / 3:29 pm

    I love this. I recently came under fire on instagram for posting a pic of a wine. It was one person, saying i was irresponsible. Sometimes I wonder if the negativity and criticism which of course is just someone else’s opinion is really necessary. This particular person did it a lot and seems to make a habit of it and i have just blocked them in the end. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but sometimes i think people just go a little too far with free speech sometimes. Purposely to make someone feel bad. #mummymonday

    • October 6, 2014 / 6:24 pm

      Thank you – nobody needs that level of negativity!

  11. October 6, 2014 / 5:46 pm

    Its sad but so very true, ao many mums seem so happy to judge other mums and their choices and I just don’t get it. We’re all just trying to find our way and are doing the best we can. We are all different and our kids are all different so what works for one is never going to work for all. I hate that we cant all just support each other, whatever decisions we make! Great post xx #mummymonday

    • October 6, 2014 / 6:24 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  12. November 19, 2014 / 7:35 pm

    This is all very true unfortunately, luckily it seems to still be a fairly small problem. As a formula feeding parent (once out of desperation and once because there was no option) I have certainly kept my metaphorical mouth shut on a number of occasions online, sad isn’t it. Last thing you want is to be kicked when you’re already perhaps struggling with a hard day.
    It makes me so happy when I see posts/comments from parents supporting each other – we need alot more of that!
    Xx

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