Respecting the Parenting of Others: Quieting Judgey McJudgerson


Welcome to the February 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions With Other Parents

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have focused on how we can communicate with other parents compassionately.


Let me start off by saying that I write this post as someone who has a lot to work on in regard to the topic of this post.  I spent a long time being Judgey McJudgerson, side-eyeing every parenting decision that didn’t meet my misplaced ideals, and gossiping about those decisions with my e-friends.  I’m not that person any more, but I still have my moments.  Writing this post is one part catharsis, one part reminder for myself.

Natural parents are a passionate bunch.  We pride ourselves on the amount of research, forethought and education that goes into our parental decision-making.  We do not blindly rely on the advice of a friend, neighbor or doctor without running it by our “tribe” of like-minded mamas to see what they would do.  We even take our doctors’ advice with a grain of salt, preferring to rely on age-old wisdom and tried-and-true home remedies whenever possible.  Maybe it is because of all of this extra effort that we also tend to be the quick to criticize, to judge, or to have a harsh word for a fellow mom who is just trying to do what she feels is best for her child, based on her own experiences and knowledge.

All moms have a fear of being judged, of making a decision that makes others call our parenting skills into question.  Making all of the right decisions all of the time means you love your child, right?  No pressure there.  The American Psychological Association recognizes that trying to be “supermom” is a significant source of stress for women.  Yet here we are, moms ourselves, putting the pressure on one another by those side-eyed glances, those snarky comments, and sometimes an outright “I would never” type of commentary on someone else’s parenting choices.  If you think that you don’t do this, ask yourself how you’ve responded in the past to some hot-button parenting issues.  (Need some inspiration on that one?  Think: circumcision, nursing in public, vaccination…need I go on?).  Nearly all of us do it, there’s no doubt.  And at some point, our well-intended concern over the parenting decisions that others make becomes nothing more than disrespect of another human being and her choices.

I don’t preach this from an ivory tower, not by any means.   A quick look through my blog archives will reveal a number of embarrassingly judgmental posts.  As natural parents, we are all about fostering respectful relationships with our children.  How can we pretend to do that if we can’t lead by example?

Call yourself out on your attitude.  I actually used to have a post category on my blog called “judgmental posts.”  I’m not proud of those.  At the time they were humorous to me, but as I have matured as a parent and as I have continued to embrace natural parenting ideals I am actually a little embarrassed at how judgmental I used to be.  Yet I will not delete those posts because they are a reminder to me of what I don’t want to be as a parent.  By acknowledging what I was doing, and calling myself out on it, I am less likely (or so I hope) to be so judgmental in future interactions.

Remember that we’re all in this together.  We really are.  My family may be raising one son, but my son is going to interact with other children and adults, and will likely have a big influence on at some people.  And those people will have big influences on him.  While we are only directly responsible for one little person, we aren’t living in isolation – we have a vested interest our friends and acquaintances and their lives.  Instead of treating parenting like a race with only one winner, we need to treat it like a team sport.  When we all succeed, we all win.

Maybe you really did catch her at her worst.  I know I’ve certainly had a few parenting moments – very public ones – that I haven’t been proud of.  I have been the mom threatening to take away all of her eighteen month old son’s toys while he threw his fifth very public tantrum at Target on a night when I was tired and stressed out.  I’m usually not like that.  At my best, I’m using gentle tones to talk my son through an upset or a tantrum.  I’m talking with him, not to him, and we’re communicating in a way that meets his needs and fosters a healthy relationship.  I’m proud of those moments.  At my worst, though, I’m not winning any parent of the year awards – I’m winning horrified looks from my fellow Target shoppers.  When you see someone do something you would never do, take a step back and remember that you may have seen that mom at her worst.  It happens to all of us.

But don’t be afraid to gently offer advice, if asked or given the opportunity.  Some parenting decisions are made out of a place of ignorance.  My son is circumcised ONLY because I was not at all educated on the topic before he was born.  Every time the topic of circumcision comes up, I struggle with that decision.  I feel awful about it.  The only thing I can take solace in is the fact that I just didn’t know.  If you are given the opportunity to educate, offer advice, or steer someone towards a gentle parenting perspective, don’t be afraid to do so, but do it from a place of love and concern.

And know when to intervene.  There is a big difference between being judgmental to no end, and stopping someone from doing something harmful to their child.  In your heart you’ll know when you need to do the right thing.

What’s your take?  Is it possible to be judgmental and constructive at once?  What do you do when you witness a parenting decision or approach that is totally against your own parenting philosophies?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment — At Natural Parents Network, Amy (of Peace 4 Parents) offers some ways to deal with parenting advice and criticism, whether it’s from your mom or the grocery store clerk.
  • Judgement is Natural – Just Don’t Condemn — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shared her views on why judgment is unavoidable and why the bigger issue is condemnation.
  • Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares tips for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner.
  • When Other Parents Disagree With You — Being an attachment parent is hard enough, but when you are Lily, aka Witch Mom, someone who does not enforce gender roles on her kid, who devalues capitalism and materialism, and instead prefers homeschooling and homesteading — you are bound to disagree with someone, somewhere!
  • Mama Bashing — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on the hurt caused on the blogosphere by mama bashing and pleads for a more mindful way of dealing with differences.
  • Accentuate the Positive — Joella at Fine and Fair shares how she manages interactions with the parents she encounters in her work as a Parent Coach and Substance Abuse Counselor by building trusting relationships and affirming strengths.
  • The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents — Tara from MUMmedia offers great tips for handling the inevitable conflict of ideas and personalities in parenting/mother’s groups, etc.
  • Trying to build our village — Sheila at A Gift Universe tells how she went from knowing no other moms in her new town to building a real community of mothers.
  • Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how she handles heated topics in the “Mommy-space” online.
  • Parenting with Convictions — Sarah at Parenting God’s Children encourages love and support for fellow parents and their convictions.
  • How To Be Respectful Despite Disagreeing On Parenting Styles… — Jenny at I’m a Full-Time Mummy shares her two cents’ worth on how to have respectful interactions with other parents despite disagreeing on parenting styles.
  • Public RelationsMomma Jorje touches on keeping the peace when discussing parenting styles.
  • Navigating Parenting Politics — Since choosing an alternative parenting style means rejecting the mainstream, Miriam at The Other Baby Book shares a few simple tips that can help avoid hurt feelings.
  • Hiding in my grace cave — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to forget that not all parents are as respectful and tolerant as the people with whom she now surrounds herself.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting – Respectful Interactions with Other Parents — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores how her attitude has changed regarding sharing information and opinions with others and how she now chooses to keep the peace during social outings.
  • Empathy and respect — Helen at zen mummy tries to find her zen in the midst of the Mummy Wars.
  • Not Holier Than Thou — Amyables at Toddler in Tow muses about how she’s learned to love all parents, despite differences, disagreements, and awkward conversations.
  • Nonviolent Communication and Unconditional Love — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment reflects on the choice to not take offense as the key to honest and open communication.
  • Respectful Parenting As a Way of Life — Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about using her parenting philosophy as a guide to dealing with other parents who make very different choices from her.
  • Homeschooling: Why Not? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how parents can often make homeschooling work for their family even if, at first glance, it may seem daunting.
  • If You Can’t Say Something Nice… — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her philosophy for online and offline interactions … a philosophy based primarily on a children’s movie.
  • Different Rules for Different Families — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how differences between families affect our children, and how that can be a good thing.
  • Respectful Interaction With Other Parents — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares the ways she surrounds herself with a like-minded support network, so that she can gently advocate in her dealings with those whose opinions on parenting differ vastly from her own.
  • Parenting as a mirror — Rather than discrediting others’ parenting styles, Kate Wicker discusses why she tries to focus on doing right rather than being right — and why she’s also not afraid to show others that she’s a heartfelt but imperfect mama just trying to be the best mom for her family.
  • The One Thing {Most} Parents Have In Common: They Try Their Best — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry finds interacting with other parents easier once she accepts that they are all just trying their best, just like her.
  • Finding your mama-groove: 5 ways to eliminate judge/be judged metalityMudpieMama reveals 5 ways of thinking that have helped her find her mama-groove and better navigate tricky parenting discussions.
  • Speaking Up For Those Who Can’t — We’ve all had those moments when someone said something hurtful or insensitive, or downright rude that just shocks you to your core, and you’re stunned into silence. Afterwards, you go home and think “Gosh, I wish I said…” This post by Arpita at Up Down, And Natural is for all the breastfeeding mamas who have thought “Gosh, I wish I said…”
  • Thank you for your opinion — Gaby at Tmuffin shares her go-to comment when she feels like others are judging her parenting style.
  • Mending — A playground conversation about jeans veers off course until a little mending by Kenna at Million Tiny Things is needed.
  • The Thing You Don’t Know — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about what she believes is one of the most important things you can consider when it comes to compassionate communication with other parents.
  • 3 Tips for Interacting with Other Parents Respectfully When You Disagree with Them — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about respectful interactions on her parenting journey.
  • Peacefully Keeping My Cool: Quotes from Ana — How do you keep your cool? Ana from Pandamoly shares some of her favorite retorts and conversation starters when her Parenting Ethos comes into question.
  • Kind Matters — Carrie at Love Notes Mama discusses how she strives to be the type of person she’d want to meet.
  • Doing it my way but respecting your highway. — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle is determined to walk with her family on the road less travelled whether you like it or not!
  • Saying “I’m Right and You’re Wrong” Seldom Does Much To Improve Your Cause… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how living by example motivates her actions and interactions with others.
  • Have another kid and you won’t care — Cassie of There’s a Pickle in My Life, after having her second child, knows exactly how to respond to opposing advice.
  • Ten Tips to Communicate Respectfully, Even When You Disagree — What if disagreements with our partners, our children or even complete strangers ultimately led to more harmony and deeper connections? They can! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares ten tips to strengthen our relationships in the midst of conflict.
  • A Little Light Conversation — Zoie at TouchstoneZ explains why respect needs to be given to every parent unconditionally.
  • Why I used to hide the formula box — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen finally talks about how judgement between parents changed her views on how she handles differences in parenting.
  • Assumptions — Nada at minimomist discusses how not everyone is able to nurse, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • Shushing Your Inner Judgey McJudgerson — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction knows that judging others is easy to do, but recognizing that we all parent from different perspectives takes work.
  • Respectfully Interacting with Others Online — Lani at Boobie Time Blog discusses the importance of remaining respectful behind the disguise of the internet.
  • Presumption of Good Will — Why — and how — Crunchy Con Mommy is going to try to assume the best of people she disagrees with on important issues.
  • Being Gracious with Parenting Advice — Tips for giving and receiving parenting advice with grace from Lisa at My World Edenwild.
  • Explain, Smile, Escape — Don’t know what to do when you’re confronted by another parent who disagrees with you? Amy at Anktangle shares a story from her life along with a helpful method for navigating these types of tricky situations (complete with a handy flow chart!).
  • Balancing Cultures and ChoicesDulce de leche discusses the challenges of walking the tightrope between generations while balancing cultural and family ties.
  • Linky – Parenting Peacefully with Social MediaHannabert’s Mom discusses parenting in a social media world.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Filed under Natural Parenting

9 Responses to Respecting the Parenting of Others: Quieting Judgey McJudgerson

  1. Cassie

    I love this. I love the target thing- its so easy to look at someone and say oh they aren’t very natural parent like in reference for how they are handling their kids tantrum. But who knows what kind of day they’ve had. Who knows what’s really going on. I am SO that judgmental mom sometimes. But after I had my second child I’d like to think I’m less that way because I’m really too tired to care or too busy to care what anyone does.
    Cassie recently posted..Have another kid and you won’t care

  2. Laura

    I keep coming back and reading your post, which I think is very well written and rather reflective of my own thoughts, but I can’t get past the grumpy baby photo. It must be the lack of sleep from being an anti-CIO family, but I can’t stop laughing. :) Great post!

  3. Lauren @ Hobo Mama

    Love this post!! Maybe because I feel like you’re channeling me. I have old posts I’m afraid to link to anymore because of my tone in them. The idea of making a special category for them is genius.

    And I’ve been that Target mom. o.O

    I really like your point that we’re judgmental because we care so much about parenting and have taken so much effort to get it right. And yet how sometimes that can blind us to the fact that pretty much all parents are trying to get it right.

    Great post — thanks!
    Lauren @ Hobo Mama recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Valentine’s week

  4. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

    I’ve been in every perspective you offer – I’ve done things I later regretted b/c I didn’t know, I’ve been at my worst in public, I’ve judged self-righteously. It *is* good to stop and callourselves out once in awhile – I hope this carnival makes us all a little more gentle in the future :)

  5. Kat @ Loving {Almost} Every Moment

    Totally agree with you and it’s so refreshing to read what you wrote about natural parents being a “passionate bunch” because that’s so true! Sometimes I do have to remember to think before I say or do something, and most times it’s not because I’m judging per se but in my passion for parenting I may say something that will come across as being “judgy”! Thanks for the great post!

  6. Tara

    I love your post – it is refreshingly honest! …and that picture of ‘disapproval’ makes me laugh!!! Well done! Your blog is fantastic!! xo
    Tara recently posted..The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents

  7. Sheila

    I always try to remember that I was that mom. I have a blog post way back in my archives about discipline which is the preachiest piece of BS ever written by the mother of a three-month-old. It’s all about consequences and punishment and “if your kids don’t listen to you as well as you like, that’s your fault because you’re not consistent.”

    Riiiiiight. I now do every single thing I said in that post I wouldn’t do. And you know what? It’s working well for us. The fact is, the mama I disagree with at the playground might agree with me next year. She just hasn’t had a chance to test all her theories yet. And if I’ve been there too, obviously I’m not better, or more loving, or smarter than her. I just figured some stuff out which she surely will, in time, too.
    Sheila recently posted..Libertarian parenting

  8. Stephanie @ The Brunette Foodie

    I love this post. I think once we are judged we realize how mean we’ve been…even if it is only in our heads. I really backed down off the judging when Homeslice was about 6 months, and I realized that parenting doesn’t define friendships. My friends may parent differently, but we all have the best interest of our families at heart.

    When Homeslice weaned himself at 18 months I wrote something about it on Twitter. Literally one tweet. I got a comment back about how awful it was that I let him wean so YOUNG. I laughed since in my social circle he was the last to wean of the nursed kids. And, what was I going to do? Force the kid to nurse when he would rather eat some fruit?

    It was then I realized that we all get judged at some point, and the least I can do is be more sympathetic to other moms…even if I disagree with the way they parent. How we parent is better for OUR family, but it may not work for others.
    Stephanie @ The Brunette Foodie recently posted..The Homeschool Mother’s Journal: Hearts & F

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge