Let’s talk moms judging other moms: do you judge moms who parent differently? Here’s how I found myself on the other side of exactly what I was judging.
Ahh, the playground. The place where kids get to play, and parents get to display their parenting philosophies for all to see.
Whether it’s teaching kids to share or socialize, time at the playground can be an eye-opener.
Take, for instance, my story of how I judged other moms… only to find myself on the other side.
You’d often find me at the playground, narrating most of his actions and our environment. “Look at the sun—it’s so bright!… You’re playing with the sand… Wee! This swing is so fun!” and so forth.
I would also climb up the playground equipment with him. He seemed so small, I figured. And so, with my hands spotting his every action, I climbed up, protecting him.
To others, I looked like the typical helicopter mom. I was the mom hovering over her kid and hoping that all this narrating is turning her son into a child genius. Or perhaps they saw me as the parent unwilling to let my child explore on his own.
To an extent, some of this helicopter parenting was for good reason. During that age, my son had a slight speech delay. At 15 months, he still wasn’t saying any coherent words. We’d learned that one of the best ways to encourage language was to speak to him. And so I made it a mission to talk to him more often, even if I looked like an over-obsessive mom.
As far as staying no farther than a foot away from him, the playground equipment had no rails. To a first-time-mom, a five foot high structure with no rails screams danger.
I had my reasons, and I stuck to them.
The irony of moms judging other moms
The unfortunate thing was that I started judging other moms different from me.
I judged the mom who sat on the bench while her son played—gasp!—over 50 feet away from her. “Seems lazy,” I would think. “She’s completely ignoring her son and not engaging him whatsoever.” I judged the other mom who talked on the phone while her kids played in the sand. “What example is she setting?” I would tsk tsk.
It’s embarrassing to admit, especially now that I realize the importance of independent play. I not only sit on the playground bench, but I fiddle with my phone at the same time.
I now know that allowing kids plenty of time to play builds their focus. They learn self-sufficiency when they master something all on their own. And they get a break from being under a watchful eye as kids often are.
Looking back at how I made assumptions about other moms, I admit, I had a case of “I’m better than you.” More than likely, that mom wasn’t being lazy. Maybe she wanted her son to learn how to play on his own or make friends with other kids. Maybe she wanted him to explore in ways he couldn’t with his mom hovering nearby.
I also now know that parents need to focus on themselves too. Maybe the mom on the phone runs her own business and this was her only chance to make calls and emails. And she feels fortunate to work and care for her children, even if it means being on the phone while the kids play. Or maybe she needed a break as all moms do.
Just as I had my reasons to narrate and hover, these moms had their own reasons for parenting the way they did.
I now value hands-off parenting, doing the things I once judged. And the biggest lesson for me? Don’t judge. Most parents have a reason for everything, and what works for one family may not work for another. Some may still be figuring out this whole parenting business. While others flat-out know that this is how they’d rather parent.
For all we know, we may just find ourselves on the other side, sitting on the park bench checking our email.
Read more posts about motherhood:
- Moms, We’re All in This Together
- Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
- Overcoming Other People’s Judgment
- 5 Ways to REALLY Support Moms
Have you found yourself judging other moms and their parenting methods? Have you ironically started doing the very things you once used to judge?
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