This is going to be one of those ramble-y posts. One of those things that has been rattling around in my brain for a long time and I need to get it out. Moms (and people in general) love to judge other moms. In my experience, it seems to be compounded in the “natural parenting” community. There’s this idea that if you cloth diaper, you must fit this other mold of what “a cloth dapering mom” is. Moms are made to feel guilty if they don’t fit this picture perfect, “crunchy” mold.
After a chat in my Facebook group, I found that almost every mom had felt judged in some way for her decisions. There were 1 or 2 fortunate few that had thick enough skin to brush it off, but most of us have a very hard time not taking it personally.
Often from family it’s cloth diapers=you’ll fail. You should stop breastfeeding. That baby will never walk if you baby wear, cosleeping is dangerous.
In the natural parenting community, it’s often “I can’t believe you baby wear but used ‘cry it out'” or “How can you cosleep and vaccinate?” or “How could you possibly do xyz if you abc?”
Not all cloth diapering families are “crunchy!” My cloth diaper survey so far has shown that the majority of cloth diapering families consider themselves middle of the road, not mainstream, not 100% natural.
I’ve been a mom for 11 1/2 years and things have changed. When my oldest was born, she was disposable diapered and we used mainstream baby products. I wouldn’t have dreamed of putting non-organic food in her mouth and after a few months, nary a mainstream baby wash product would touch her skin. She didn’t know what fast food was and candy was a rare treat. Nowadays, I’m all about balance. My kids are no strangers to fast food or candy, and though we try to do natural/organic whenever we can, I don’t gasp at mainstream foods or products.
When my oldest was born, I was terrified of bottles or pacifiers messing up our breastfeeding relationship. By the time I had my third I thought “this kid is going to take a bottle and/or paci, darn it!!”
Here are just a few of the things Moms are judged for:
- Breast vs. formula
- Direct from the tap vs. pumping
- Vaccinating vs. not
- Vaccinating on schedule or delaying
- Home birth vs. hospital birth
- Vaginal vs. c-section
- VBAC vs. repeat c-section
- Medicated vs. unmedicated birth
- Babywearing vs. stroller
- Type of carrier or stroller
- Cosleep vs. bedshare vs. crib
- Intact vs. circumcised
- Potty train vs. potty learn vs. elimination communication
- When your child trained and how
- Cloth vs. disposable
- Type of diapers and where purchased
- Homeschool vs. unschool vs. private school vs. public school
- All organic vs. mainstream foods
- Fast food vs. all homemade
- Rice cereal vs. not
- Jarred baby food vs. homemade vs. baby led weaning
- Fluoride vs. no fluoride
- All reusable products vs. some disposable
- All “non-toxic” personal care products vs. some mainstream
- What car seat you use, how long and how you use it
Everyone has their own opinions and perhaps even privately judges other moms. Two people could read the same research and come to different conclusions and every mom is just doing what’s best for her family. I’ve never seen a case where a mom was attacked and that made her change her mind.
It’s possible to share your family’s choices and how you reached those decisions without attacking a mom, calling her a bad mom, telling her she doesn’t care about her kids, or even that she is “abusing” them.
As much as I hope to share my experience with circumcision when I can, shaming moms does not help. What’s done is done. How do you know the mom with the bottle didn’t try for months, through pain and appointments, desperately trying to breastfeed her child. How do you know she didn’t have a double mastectomy?
Please do me a favor and go out of your way to put yourself in another mom’s shoes. If you feel strongly about a topic, try saying “we researched via … and when I read … it made me think …”
If you want to shame another mom, just don’t. Think about how it would feel to have it said to you and what good it will do to say it. Bite your tongue and just don’t.
What’s interesting to me is that it’s almost always the mothers who are judged. A father could take kids out in their pajamas with filthy faces, and a person would see the kids running around like crazy people and comment about what a good, involved dad he is.
If you want a judgement-free zone, check out my cloth diaper & parenting support group on Facebook as well as my tween/teen parent support group on Facebook. I have yet to determine why (small-ish numbers?), but both seem to be very balanced and judgement-free.
Have you been judged for your parenting decisions? Did it bother you or do you have thick skin?