Do mothers judge other mothers if they have different parenting styles?

Jamie - posted on 01/15/2012 ( 132 moms have responded )

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During another debate on here I received this response:

"YOU chose to [fill in blank with parenting style] because you feel it is a better choice. you are automatically judging anything else with that choice."



Unfortunately, the poster was making false assumptions about me for that particular topic. I choose what I believe is best for MY CHILDREN. I do not believe that parenting is "one size fits all." Even in my own house I will change my parenting style to what I believe is best for that particular child.



With that being said, I would never judge another mother for choosing a different way to parent HER CHILD. To me, that seems ridiculous. I do not know the family or the child's innermost workings. The mother does, and can assess what is right for the family. And that is what confuses me. Why would I judge someone for doing what is best for their family because it isn't the same as what I know is best for mine?



But then it got me thinking. I've felt judged so many times in my life for the choices I've made parenting my own children. Could I be in the minority in my beliefs?



With all that being said, I want to hear from you! Do you judge mothers that have different parenting styles than you?



Be nice, and be honest. I think this is an important topic.

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Mommy - posted on 01/17/2012

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I think feeling judged is more a reflection of your own insecurities, as opposed to what the other person is thinking. People are going to judge you, no matter what you do. How much effort you put into analyzing and thinking about that judgment is on you. I know people may not like the way I raise my child, and I couldn't care less. If you don't like it, have your own kid and raise them however you like.

Merry - posted on 01/17/2012

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Sort of.....it depends I guess. If I feel the child is being harmed then I judge. If its just a difference of opinion then eh.

But most of what I do I do because I feel it's best so yeah it does make me stop and think when I see others doing opposite stuff.

I do most of my judging online though. In person you would never know I have such strong opinions. I smile and nod a lot.

Tracey - posted on 01/17/2012

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Do I judge other parents, only when watching Wife Swap during which I have been known to shout at the TV.

Jamie - posted on 01/16/2012

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Actually, I don't understand. Why would anyone bother negatively judge another mother for her choices if she doesn't think it is hurting them?



I don't know, maybe it was just the way I was raised, but I honestly don't understand it.



I'm a little surprised that there was only one other person on here who said that that really tried not to negatively judge people.



I'm hoping there are more people out there that feel like that, but just didn't like the topic and didn't want to comment.



Otherwise, I guess I better be used to being in the minority and hunker down for the next 18 years! ;-)

Ania - posted on 01/16/2012

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I think everyone judges. Seriously, it is our first response in out head into something we see. We might not say it and not be particularly nasty about it. But we all judge. We judge our friends too.

[deleted account]

Hear you on the homeschooling thing, Jamie. I merely make mention of the fact that I am considering homeschooling my kids and people look at me like I have three heads.

Sal - posted on 01/16/2012

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i try not to, not that it works 100% of the time, probally really hard to not judge when they are having issues (i can only imagine the judgment i'm getting at the moment) and if everything is going great it doesnt matter what style mum chooses the only comment will be what a great mum...so i guess we judge the result not the style...

Sylvia - posted on 01/16/2012

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Yeah, I admit it -- I judge. I think everybody does it at least sometimes. (It's hardwired -- humans are very good at making snap decisions, even in cases where that's not such a great idea :P.) I try really hard to judge the parenting and not the parent as a person. But sometimes I fail :P



And I know very well that people are constantly judging me and my parenting. Just try making a parenting choice -- any parenting choice -- that's non-standard in your community, and see how far you get before someone casts the first stone. For example, I've heard mums complain about feeling judged for formula-feeding because there's "so much pressure" to breastfeed and breastfeeding mums get all the support -- but just try telling people you're still nursing a 2- or 3-year-old (in some contexts, even a 1-year-old) and see how much support you get.



What really entertains me is when the same person judges you for completely opposite things, just because your choices are different from theirs. For instance, my SIL (whose kids are around my age, just for context) used to tell me all the time what a terrible idea it was to let DD sleep with us because she would never learn to be independent -- and now she gives me the hairy eyeball because she feels DD isn't old enough yet to walk home from school by herself (she's 9), and I'm like, Dude, which is it?! LOL.



Seriously, though, I think we have a huge emotional investment in our parenting decisions (not to mention in our kids!), and so it's very easy to start feeling defensive about our choices and, as a side effect of that, judgemental and self-righteous about other people's choices.



Also, circumstances matter. My view on co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping is that wherever everybody gets the most sleep is the best sleeping arrangement for a particular family. So if the kids are happy sleeping in a crib, I don't judge. If the parents are happy co-sleeping, I don't judge. But if everybody's obviously miserable with their sleeping arrangements, yet carrying on with them because they read in a book that babies *need* to sleep in X or Y place or BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN 15 years from now, then yeah, I judge. Families shouldn't be miserable and losing sleep in service to something some dude said in a book one time.



Also, I confess that I am inclined to judge helicopter parents (although, IME, not nearly as much as they judge me...). The problem with kids these days, IMO, is not that they're not getting spanked enough, it's that they're being protected too much from exaggerated or straight-up imaginary dangers. So when somebody tells me they still take their 12-year-old son into the ladies' room, or their kid in Grade 10 is still being driven to and from school even though they could walk or bike or take a bus, or they would NEVER let their precious baby do this, that or the other thing that *they themselves did without even thinking about it at the same age* because it's JUST TOO DANGEROUS THESE DAYS, then I totally judge them -- I judge them for being sh!tty at risk assessment, for not trusting their kids, for not trusting anybody else, and for contributing to a child-rearing climate in which I have to worry about someone phoning Children's Aid if I send my 9-year-old out on an errand.



Er, sorry for the rant...

[deleted account]

I don't judge other mothers. I just have opinions about them.



When they have opinions about me, then it becomes a judgement.

Mary - posted on 01/16/2012

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So now that my "helper" is napping....



Bottom line, whenever we do something differently from another, we are, in essence, expressing our "judgement". If my neighbor chooses to not allow her child to watch any TV, and I let mine do it, we are "judging" each other just by virtue of making different decisions on the matter. However, in the absence of any overt words on her part, it doesn't mean that I should assume she thinks I'm a bad mother; she just reached a different conclusion about the pros and cons of TV watching than I did. If I am secure and confident in my choices, the mere fact that you or my neighbor do things differently should not leave me with any sense of inferiority, or even a need to defend/explain my choice.



I touched on this in another thread; I do think that we as mothers all have our moments of self-doubt. Despite any outward displays of bravado, most of us often wonder if we are, or did, do things "right". I believe it is this very natural insecurity that often leads us to be over-confident to the point of arrogance when we are discussing some fine point of parenting with another who does not share our perspective. We aren't really always 100% sure we are right about something, but if we can shoot down someone else's methods, it helps to reassure us about our own. To be open to another's ideas is sometimes tantamount to admitting that we may be wrong...and that is sometimes very hard to admit - to others and ourselves.

Rosie - posted on 01/16/2012

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since i'm the one that said that, yes i believe it, lol. but that doesn't mean that i think you are doing wrong by your children (well, most of the time), it's just not something i would ever do, and don't understand how other people CAN do it.



like bed sharing...i think it's god awful, wouldn't want to do it in a million years. who the hell thinks that having their kids in bed with them is a good thing? do i think you're crazy if you do? well,..yeah. but that doesn't mean i think you should change what you are doing if it works for your family.

am i making more sense, or am i dribbling on again...;)

Tam - posted on 01/16/2012

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I do judge. I do it a lot.



I have a lot of opinions, and they are normally formed via long consideration, experience, and constant review of information I obtain. Because of this, my opinions tend to be very strong, though I allow for others that have differing views.



When I see something another parent does that differs from my way of doing things, the first question that pops into my head is, "Why would he/she do that?"



For instance, we've all seen the kids having a meltdown in Walmart (or its equivalent) over a toy, a snack, or a soda. That bugs me enough - I have my kids to the point where meltdowns like that are extremely rare, if they happen at all. So I judge the parent without knowing the circumstances of the behavior, whether it is brought on by a condition like autism, stress, or just bad parenting (in my opinion). I tend to go for the latter, as most of the people I know personally who have problems with their kids in public fail to enforce the norms of society.



If I care enough to see how the parent reacts to the situation, I judge again. Usually, it is one of two reactions: ignoring the entire debacle, pleading with the kid to 'please stop. Please calm down. Get of the floor, and I'll buy you X". The next thought in my mind is, "Aha! I can see who runs the household here."



It's rare that I see someone deal with the issue as I do on the occasion my kids see fit to throw a tantrum. I get down so I can look them directly in the eye, and then ask a simple question. "Do we need to leave?"



It usually clears it up because 'leaving' usually means punishment, like grounding or something similar.



But yes, I do judge. I normally keep it to myself until I can talk to my husband about it. I can be vocal all I want when my husband is there to listen and sometimes, he inserts a perspective that I hadn't considered before, which makes me revise my original stance.



In short, I do judge. Like anyone, I enjoy the feeling of superiority, as shameful as it is to admit it. But I rarely let my judgements be known, especially to strangers, because I ascribe to the 'live and let live' philosophy. As long as people aren't forcing their parenting (or any other lifestyle choices) down my throat, then I will return the same courtesy.

Mrs. - posted on 01/16/2012

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I think people judge in general, in their heads. I think it is okay to judge, be angry, be jealous, all those negative emotions, as long as you express them in a constructive way. To feel those things is human, to express them in a helpful, objective way is maturely human.

Jamie - posted on 01/16/2012

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I guess I am in the minority, because I completely disagree.



I think as humans we assess and categorize everything we observe. That is normal. "I wouldn't do that with my child," is a lot different than judging a mother for doing it with her child.



Obviously if we witness something of obvious concern that it should be called in and allow DCSF assess whether or not the mother is fit to raise the child...but that isn't the kind of judgement I was referring to.



I'm speaking more of polar opposite parenting styles. Both valid and safe.





For instance, I home school my children. I believe it is best for our family. We travel almost every month, and my biological I feel learns better with one-on-one attention. I do not judge mothers for putting their children in school, not a bit, I think it is best for some families (including mom and dad). I have felt extremely judged from other mothers at the park when the topic of "what school does your child go to" comes up.



I should have specified with kind of judgement I meant in my original question.



Both safe, valid, and nurturing styles- just different.



"Do all mothers judge other valid parenting styles because it is different from what they do?" - revised question.



The answer I received from another mother that I inserted in my original post was really what got me thinking about this.



The question had to do with extended breastfeeding. I do it with both of my children (biological and adopted). And I do believe it was best for both of my kids given their circumstances, but that has nothing to do with me thinking it is best for other mothers. I thought that claim was completely false and made me upset that someone would actually feel like that.



I mean, I know the person the wrote it is a complete stranger over the internet. She has no idea we're in the process of adopting an infant that will be formula fed.



I know my own beliefs on the topic, I was just a little shocked that someone would automatically assume because I do X I judge if mother does Y, when they both get you to the same ending point.



So, is it true? Do most mothers judge each other even though they know they are not doing harm to their children? Just choosing a different way to parent their child?

Tara - posted on 01/16/2012

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Like everyone else, I judge based on circumstance and behaviour, I don't like the idea of spanking, even a little bit, but I don't necessarily judge those parents who occasionally deliver a spank. I suppose if I'm going to be totally honest, I do in a way judge, but not so much like "what the fuck is wrong with them" (that's reserved for wanton, angry spankers who use force and fear all the time) but more of a "I wonder if they know that there are other ways"



I think a lot depends on intent as well. There are parents who parent badly simply because they are ignorant in the true sense of the word. Their intent is honest and in a way the same as other parents: to have well behaved children.



Then there are parents who know there are other ways to discipline, stand by their stance with so much force you would think they go around handing out pamphlets etc. that offer tips and support for physical discipline.



So their intent is a little different, they understand there are other solutions but firmly believe that you must use physical punishment. Them I do judge, heavily.



We all judge, just about different things and to differing degrees.

Krista - posted on 01/16/2012

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And yeah, like Erin said, there is some parenting out there, that richly deserves judging.



Let's say you were at a park. And you saw a kid pushing over other kids, and just being a real menace. And over to the side, on the park bench, is a mother. She periodically screams at the kid to "stop doing that, you little shit!", but doesn't actually get up from the bench. She's got a baby in a stroller next to her, and the baby is sucking back a bottle full of Pepsi. The mother is chain-smoking, and talking on her cell phone the whole time, completely ignoring the baby.



You tell me you wouldn't judge that? You honestly think that she's just doing what is right for her family?

Krista - posted on 01/16/2012

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I thought that maybe you were hitting the sauce or something...



And yes, I was judging you for it.

Mary - posted on 01/16/2012

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Oh dear....just realized that I must have left this unfinished post open, and apparently my 3 y/o "finished" it for me.



Judge away....

[deleted account]

I feel the same way as Krista.

I also have no problem calling people out on their hurtful parenting choices in real life, within reason. I'm not going to go out of my way to tell a stranger not to smoke around their baby, but a friend or acquaintance, no problem. Maybe me drawing attention to the problem will fix it...or they may just ignore me then delete me from their facebook and quit calling...HAHAHAA

Mary - posted on 01/16/2012

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I think sometimes we just get too caught up in the word "judgement" itself, and give it a negative connotation that does not (always) exist. In essence, a judgement is nothing more than one's personal opinion or decision that they have reached based on whatever facts or opinions they themselves have.



We are all unique individuals who come into parenthood from vastly different backgrounds. Therefore, it's only natural that we we all make different choices in how we raise our children. Often times, that feeling of being "judged" by another parent when our choices differ is really a reflection of our own insecurities, and not always because that other parent is, in fact, looking down upon us.vkff[pf[dad\D\

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Krista - posted on 01/16/2012

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I judge...depending on the situation.



If someone's parenting choices are different from mine, but they make SENSE, then no, I won't judge them.



If someone's parenting choices are different from mine, don't really make sense, but aren't really hurting the child or other children, (like when I see babies with their ears pierced) then I might look askance at them, but that's as far as it goes.



But, if someone's parenting choices are hurting their child, or hurting other peoples' children, then I will absolutely become Judgy McJudgersons. So if I see people smoking around a baby, or being verbally abusive to their children, or letting their kids hurt other kids, then I will absolutely disapprove and my face will usually register my disapproval quite clearly.

[deleted account]

I think there are levels of judging. For most things, I sort of shrug and think to myself, hmmm, each to his own. For other things, I judge hard core. For example, with my dumb ass friend who is withholding food from her underweight 2 YO -- yes, I am judging her big time as a parent. I would say the dividing line for me tends to be: 1) things that affect my children (e.g., your kid hitting, biting, etc. and you not doing anything about it); or 2) things that are clearly detrimental to a child (like the underfeeding a toddler). Other than that, I don't really care how someone parents their own child.

Aleks - posted on 01/16/2012

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@ Ashley, a baby under 12mths old does not need to eat "solids" - they are meant to be for fun only. Many babies don't even like to start on solids until after 12mths and some even eat them very lightly (may be a few mouhtfuls once or twice a day) until well over 18mths. So I doubt it was the same type of a situation with Kimberly Wales' child if she had to have her hospitalised (usually this tends to occur in late toddlerhood or even later, at 5,6 or even 7yo).

[deleted account]

Some of us judge just about bloody everything lol..as for the solids there my second was the same..she did not have any relux etc she got her first tooth by 3mths, which turned her off all food at 4-5 mths.Due to the pain of teething.She began to eat from 12mths.It was her formula that was keeping her from losing to much weight.She was under but not to the point of having to be taken into hospital etc.I was grilled over what i was feeding her.Until i explained why she was not eating solids.There only concern was she was getting to much bottles at 8mths.lol..I said i can't take two extra bottles off a baby who is not getting nourishment from any other source.They felt silly about it then but that was not my intention.

Kimberly that must of been awful for you both.Hope shes fine now.:-)



I think for myself the only thing that upsets me is what Cathy said, parents who allow there kids to run wild, no manners, no respect.That style or what ever it is, i don't accept.

Aleks - posted on 01/16/2012

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@ Kimberly Wales

Was your child that was not into eating solids a reflux baby by any chance?

[deleted account]

We all judge on some level. Some parents are more extreme in those judgements.



I don't judge all parents who use the occasional spank as punishment. I do judge the parent who feel the need to spank their child daily because they are horribly behaved. My brain automatically then assumes that the child is horribly behaved because the parent doesn't model good behaviour and resorts to aggression every-time.



I don't judge a mother as neglectful for allow a baby to cry unattended for 10 minutes. If a mother allows a baby to scream for 2 hours or till they vomit then I judge.



You have parents how allow their children to behave as monsters in public, running off, screaming, disrupting other people, picking on other kids. The parents do nothing and ignore the behaviour.



The parents who scream and curse at their kids in public and then complain that their kids have a mouth on them and scrubbing it out with soap hasn't worked...



Sometimes I can't help but cringe...

Kimberly - posted on 01/16/2012

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Its not so much the parents I would judge but there actions. Yes I'm like everyone else and see things and think 'Holy crap I would never let her do that' but thats as far as I go unless the actions are dirrectly effecting my child. At first glance you dont always know why a parent is doing something that we wouldnt do. My daughter was next to impossible to get to eat soilids and we went to feeding clinic and were hospitalized, this went on for over a year before she would finally eat something. I made her many meals a day trying to get her to eat. People used to say it was crazy but when your the one in the doc office being told if she losses more weight they will tube feed her what do you do? But from the outside it just looked like I was letting her eat whatever. And yes I was judged very harshly for some of the things I have done for my daughter but I think until your in my shoes dealing with what we did then you can judge until then keep your thoughts to yourself. I have also stopped hanging around some mothers because I didnt like what they let there kids do or say and I didnt want my daughter picking up on that. I think we should all take a step back and realize that yes the kids could be throwing a tantrum in the shop cause he's spoiled or it could be that he has something wrong with him and haveing a melt down, we dont know straight away.

Ann - posted on 01/16/2012

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Yes I judge, I will be honest. I do choose when and where I vent my views though. We all have different ways of raising our children but not everyone's way is right, whether it suits that family or not.



I agree when you see junk food being fed to a baby, it makes me cringe!! My 10 year old boy made a face the other day at the supermarket and pointedly looked over at a toddler drinking coke. My kids are not allowed to have caffeinated drinks so I was so proud that he thought it was wrong.



And there are times when you will be talking to parents and the excuses they come up for doing the things they do are just that EXCUSES. Oh well Jonny has to eat junk food otherwise he would not eat anything so its better that way. Crap! Parents seem to take the easy way out with parenting these days, oh Im too busy, blah, blah.



I see it everyday in the industry I work. I sometimes think Parents should be trained before being allowed to raise children. And I so agree with Jakki, too many spoilt little brats around these days whose parents just cater to their every need.



I feel like slapping them over the back of the head and saying "Whose the parent??" Weak parents are my pet hate too. But as I said I dont air my views at the parents.Sometimes I will subtley suggest something but usually I just vent to my friends, because I find that most parents will do what they want regardless of what you offer in the way of help.

Aleks - posted on 01/16/2012

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To answer this question: Do mothers judge other mothers if they have different parenting styles?



OOOhhhh yeah.....



Of course I do. I believe that we all do. We have to be honest with ourselves about it. Some are more judgmental than others, but we all do it.



I am judgmental about a whole lot of subjects (not just mothering/parenting styles) and I won't list all those that I am with regards to parenting. Basically I will not scream around saying that YOU ARE BAD PARENT if you do XYZ. But I will think it....LOL ;-)

Jakki - posted on 01/16/2012

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Hi Jamie I think you are a better person than me because I am definitely very judgemental towards other parents!



My pet hate is weak parents who let their kids rule them and are too scared to say no to their kids (eg let them eat whatever they like, buy them ridiculously expensive toys because little johnnie demanded it, take them to a million activties because the parents are frightened to say no), and do not tell their kids off for behaving badly towards others (eg being rude, aggressive, insensitive, boastful, overly competitive).



Ummm - what do you think when you see this kind of behaviour - don't you feel judgemental?

Erin - posted on 01/16/2012

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I think it's naive to think we don't judge. We all judge everyone, all the time. It's how we form our opinion. I'm not sure when making a judgement of someone or something became this taboo thing with everyone screaming 'NO! I don't judge!'. Because we all do it.



Now I guess the issue becomes what we do with that judgement or opinion. Do we quietly think to ourselves 'wow, I can't see myself doing that for my child'? Or do we yell to everyone who listens 'anyone who does X is a hopeless mother who doesn't deserve her children'? The first is perfectly reasonable. The second is obnoxious.



There are also those judgements that DO require us to do or say something, as they allow us, as a society, to protect children from all sorts of harm.



And then there are the situations that are so outrageous and stupid that I would call you (general you) a liar if you claim to 'not judge'. The woman giving her 8 month old Coke in a bottle? Yeah I will judge her as being ignorant. The family dosing their kids up on Benadryl or Phenergan every night so they sleep? Yep I will label them lazy and reckless. I make no apologies for forming a negative opinion of someone based on something so extreme.

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