Adventures in Parenthood // Passing Judgement

February 29 2016 |

Judgy Parents

When we were new parents, people would ask us all the time what we were learning or what our major takeaways were. I always had a couple. First, I had no idea you could love something so much. And second, it was my personal mission to never judge another parent for their choices in parenting, because this shiz is hard.

Henry is a vocal dude. He’s happy. He’s a little boisterous. Lately when we’re out at restaurants he gets excited and lets out these little yelps. Obviously we are trying to teach him that yelling at the table or in a restaurant is not cool. (And truthfully, it’s not even that loud.) But what do you do in the immediate? There’s no stopping a baby who’s so happy he has to crow. So every time it happens, you teach. Sometimes we look around and see other parents (most often grandparents) smiling like they know the drill and kindly excusing our loud kid. Other times I catch the eye of somebody who clearly doesn’t think we’re disciplining well, or who thinks that perhaps this fine establishment of In ‘N Out isn’t the proper venue for a loud baby. And every time I see those looks, I just cringe. Partly because I’m a people pleaser and hate making other people upset. And partly because I think the children and families in our communities would be so much better off if people would just stop judging.

Then there’s what I like to call “milestone judgement.” This sounds something like, “Oh, wow… He’s not walking yet? Isn’t he 11 months old? Oh, don’t worry — I’m sure he’ll get it…” Or, “How funny! MY baby was saying full sentences at one year!” Or, “So you’re going to switch him to cow’s milk, right?” See where we’re going with this? And I always wonder about those milestone judgers out there: Does it make them feel better? When the passive aggressive judgement is flying, is it because they’re trying to feel more confident about their own parenting choices or their child’s milestones? Because I’m not entirely positive what other reason there might be to get all judgy on a fellow parent. When you get down to it, this gig is hard enough without having the pressure of judgement from other parents, when really all anybody wants is to do the best thing for their babies.

I confess: I’ve been guilty of it too. Perhaps not vocally, but I’ve definitely passed judgement in my head before even realizing what I was doing. But I do try to fight it with everything I’ve got. Because there’s no way to know the full story. Maybe that mom at the park who’s on her phone has been home with the kid all week and just needs two seconds to decompress. Or maybe that dad is spanking his child because it’s the only discipline that gets any traction. It’s impossible to know every nuance of a family dynamic. And what’s more, when you’re in the trenches of parenthood, sometimes you just have to do your best to survive.

Tell the truth – have you caught yourself judging? Or if you’re a parent, have there been certain times when you’ve felt judged? xoxo

9 thoughts on “Adventures in Parenthood // Passing Judgement”

  1. I’m not a parent, but I have a few friends who are already. I think I’ve witnessed two things. One, the passing judgement which is the case most of the time. Two, people often gauge from their own personal experience. So if their kid started walking at 11 months or whatever that’s what they use as their guide. Who knows we’re inclined to be a little judge I think.

  2. As someone who doesn’t have and doesn’t WANT kids, (partially due to the noise, but mostly poop, factor…) even I know the squeaks are just a happy kid making happy noise. So people shooting you the side-eye for Henry yelping every once in a while (at In ‘N Out Burger??) really need to get over it. Try not to let it bother you. They’re jerks.

  3. This post was so lovely, I almost teared up. I totally get it. My doctor calls the milestone judgments “baby Olympics” – HAHA. You are right, this shiz is hard. And more parents like you who speak out against judgement, the better. Every single parent-child combo is different and wonderful.

  4. My honey and I went out to dinner last week to a semi-nice sit down restaurant and were seated next to a family of 4 including a baby in a high chair and a maybe 4 year old. I was perfectly content with the happy baby sounds, but unfortunately drew the line at the 4 year old swinging her cloth napkin around and hitting me in the face. I chose not to even address the situation with the child or parents and simply asked our waiter if we could change tables (we hadn’t yet ordered).
    There’s a reason I don’t have children, mostly because I don’t have the patience. I wasn’t judging the parents by any means, more of removing myself from a situation that I knew would detract from enjoying my evening.

  5. I agree with most of this, and it’s definitely something I struggle with. I hate feeling judged for my parenting, but too often I jump to judging other parents.

    What about issues involving safety? I never know if I should nicely point out a safety issue to a parent, or just let it go. Car seats are the big one for me. I struggle between judging and wanted the baby to be safe.

    Ahh…it’s all just so hard.

  6. I’m a new mom of a 14 month-old. It’s been eye-opening to say the least. The judgement is there, I’ve seen it in the mild fashion that you see at restaurants; a little more obvious when someone gets the courage to tell you their opinion in person. It’s uncomfortable, because you bite your tongue to be the bigger person, but I’m also a proponent if you don’t tell them you don’t like it, they’ll continue as well.

    All I keep learning is to be true to myself, by being patient with OTHER parents when we inevitably test my resolve as well. Show love, that’s all we have and all we can really agree on at the end of the day. Love your children, love the parents, and be compasisonate. It’s what we would want other parents/people to have with us.

    Be you!

  7. I wish I could like this post 100x over! Its exactly what’s been on my mind and we as parents should support eachother, not judge. Love your blog Lovely Indeed! Thanks for all the great posts ?

  8. I used to waitress years ago and loved the kids. We had some regulars that let their kids throw food all over and thought it was funny (not funny) Sometimes a parent would let their child run around. I had to say something because we were carrying around hot pots of coffee and trays of food and someone could get hurt. Once I had kids we taught our children how to behave just like you. When they were little I had to step out a couple of times when one of them was crying and wouldn’t stop. I don’t think that is fair to other diners. If you teach them, they will learn manners. You are doing a great job. Pat S

Leave a comment!

Keep the conversation going! Your email address will not be published.

*