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No More Parental Judgment

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Before I had a baby, I was completely oblivious to the insane number of choices I would be forced to make as a new parent. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, an innocent Google search on “birthing options” (try it if you don’t believe me) left me awestruck and somewhat terrified at the seemingly endless multitude of options. Would I opt for the epidural or would I go natural? I could even get real crazy and go for a pudendal block, narcotic pain relievers, or nitrous oxide. What birthing philosophy would we subscribe to–Lamaze? Hypnobirth? Bradley? Alexander (I could be making these up right now and you probably wouldn’t know the difference)? Midwife or OB? Birthing center or hospital? Water birth? Should we bank the cord blood? Do people really encapsulate their placentas?!

I got so wrapped-up in making choices for the labor and delivery that I soon realized after our son was born that I had done NO research on how to keep a newborn alive. He was way smaller and way more fragile than I had imagined (I had never spent much time around newborns, and had (stupidly) sort of expected him to come out looking like a toddler; already walking and talking, possibly even shaving). We were now faced with even more questions, these ones far more pressing since a wrong answer could lead to his untimely demise, and a slow-response would certainly lead to shrill, ear-piercing wailing: Why is there black tar in his diaper? Is he latching properly? Should we schedule-feed or feed on demand? Should he sleep in our room or in his crib? Is that baby acne or smallpox?

Because I felt so completely inadequate, I spent whatever free time I had (mere minutes it seemed, if I wasn’t cramming in a short, crappy nap) speed-reading baby books. I honestly think I read What to Expect the First Year, Happiest Baby on the Block, Baby Wise, and the Baby Whisperer all in two days. Each book promises to get your baby sleeping through the night, nursing like a champ, and generally acting like a content, pleasant human being if–and only if–you do EXACTLY what they tell you to do. The problem is, each book tells you to do something different, which is why I totally loved this blog post on supposed “expert advice” when it comes to baby sleep.

My (long and rambling) point is, if the experts can’t even get it right, why are we as parents so judgmental when it comes to the decisions that other people make for their kids? I’ve met more than one set of parents who get real snobby at the idea of jarred baby food passing through a child’s lips–as if hand-mashed organic carrots are the cure for cancer or the catalyst that will ultimately lead to a 300 IQ score. I allowed myself to feel like crap at 2 a.m. as I desperately searched for tried and true methods to get my baby to sleep for more than 90 minutes at a time, when I read nasty comments from moms who equated “cry it out” with child abuse, or who said if you nursed your child to sleep you were lazy and creating negative sleep associations. I’ve gotten sideways glances and stink-eyes for letting my 18 month old drink out of a bottle (cow’s milk, no less), for allowing him to eat ketchup with his fingers, and for admitting that I let him watch TV when he’s driving me nuts.

If you want to bottle-feed your baby, don’t let people shame you into breastfeeding. If you don’t have the time or energy to hand-make vegan gluten-free teething biscuits, stop worrying, I ain’t judging. If you’re a baby-wearing attachment parent, awesome. If you’d rather push your kid in a stroller than wear a Baby Bjorn, that’s cool too. Co-sleep if it makes you happy, don’t if it makes you grumpy. Get the epidural, or go natural. Do Pinterest projects while your kid naps, or hang out in your sweats and take a nap yourself. Just love your kid, trust your instincts, take care of yourself, and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. You have way too much to worry about as it is.

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176 thoughts on “No More Parental Judgment

  1. Pingback: Stay Home Parenting…Job? Privilege? Or Something Else? | Wordy Gertie

  2. Awesome post, I’m currently one of those moms who get evil eyed for the formula (breast milk never came in) or when they hear I had a c-section (my daughter was breech). Never judge someone because you never know what they went through to get their child in the world.

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    • Amen to that sista! Good for you for bringing your daughter into the world the safest way possible (who wouldn’t applaud that?!) and for nourishing her in the way that works best for your family!! All fantastic choices in my book!

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  3. This is a great post. It’s so true that there’s no “one size fits all” method, even within a single family. What worked for my first didn’t work for my second. (And this was the cause of no little amount of stress until I figured out I just needed to try something different). Now on my third, getting her to sleep was still different than the first two. I had a much more relaxed approach and finally had the understanding to just “go with the flow” this time. It made all the difference. She’s three months old today and is sleeping just fine. We are all in it together, and while I don’t mind sharing my opinions (or listening to others’) no one has the perfect parenting answer. Everything is constantly changing and always will be!

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  4. We are all just trying to survive this parent ending journey. As long as I we leave this world in better condition to give to our children, we must be doing something right, right?! I believe wholeheartedly in not judging, you never know what another persons struggles are.

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  5. Love! This mom-bashing is out of control. I have other people judging my choice to use a child leash for my 18 month old. I tell them to shove it, and ask them if they would like to take him out (knowing good and well that they would want it and now)! It’s for his safety. He gets away too fast. I’m not trusting my worldly possession to look both ways before crossing an intersection, or walk around a store without darting off, and it definitely gives him more freedom than the stroller (which he hates). I will not lie, it is also for convenience and peace of mind knowing that my child is safe and somewhat free to roam. I also had an epidural, used formula, fed him baby food before 6 mos, gave him ibuprofen before I should have, and guess what? My child is way ahead of his age group. Way ahead. These moms that mommy-bash need to get a life!

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    • So glad you brought up the mom leash, which I TOTALLY use with my 19 month old! We went to LegoLand a couple of weeks ago and I can’t tell you how many people pointed and snickered about it…but can I say it’s the best invention ever! It gives me peace of mind, and my son loves it because he knows he can actually get out of his stroller and wander around without me picking him up or screaming “no” at him every 5 seconds! I also did everything else on your list…sounds like I’m in good company!

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  6. Im amazed, I have to say. Sincerely rarely will i encounter a site that’s equally educative along with compelling, in addition to definitely, you have got hit the fingernail for your scalp. Your personal idea will be spectacular; the catch is an factor that there are not enough so many people are chatting intelligently related to. Positive delighted which i located this within just my identify just one thing about this.

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  7. I read short magazine articles during my pregnancy. Honestly I just watched what I ate and enjoyed the days when I didn’t feel sick. I mostly relied on advice from my mom and my midwife when my children were born. I didn’t pay all that super natural talk much attention. I ate regular jarred food and slept with my parents when I was younger and turned out to be just fine. And guess what my kids are A-okay.

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  8. This just makes me laugh. Everyone thinks they know there mind, including myself on occasion, and then you just eat your words and change your mind. That is the only consistency in parenting. I think that we all remember feeling desperate and that may be the reason we dole out so much advice on what worked for us. The slim hope something you tried would help a friend in their own desperate time. Great writing Kelly

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  9. You are so right! I have 3 kids and consider it a success if I’ve showered. This week. No one is super mom, and if they are, there’s probably a bottle of Prozac helping her. Shoot, I wish my own Prozac worked that well. I just wrote this article on judging, and I could kick myself for forgetting to include parental judgment. This blog makes me want to rewrite it! http://www.crystalunplugged.com/2014/03/27/judging/

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  10. Great insights! I re-blogged this too. My one and only son is 27 and I still have the same issues with people ‘judging’ my parenting (and others’)…. Throw in any kind of “special need” and we become fodder for lots more critics. Thanks for reminding me what it was like in “the beginning” stages!

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  11. Reblogged this on Walkersvillemom and commented:
    Found this today and thought – you know, this is so true! Looking at it strictly from a “parenting” point of view – without adding the “special needs” part in – why do we do this to each other? Does anyone really know what is BEST ? Is there a magic formula that one parent is given and the rest aren’t? Goes back to my tagline – We’re all doing the best we can with what we know.

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  12. Great read. It is true, there is this insane focus on the pregnancy and delivery but none of them can really tell you what to do afterwards. And those who do are so adamant that their way is the only way. I’m echoing other commenters that there is no instructions, but common sense, really. We as parents learn how our little ones are comforted or repulsed by the things we do and present them with. We were very fortunate to have a common sense pediatrician. If we asked about solid foods vs breast milk or formula, he would say things like “if your baby is hungry, feed him/her. Use your judgement.” Parenting is truly all about trial and error and so many want to scare the crap out of you. Just think, ask your mom or dad. They are your best go-to if you are wondering. If you turned out alright, that’s good! That means whatever they did, (and granted, everyone makes mistakes) they must’ve done something right!

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  13. I 100% agree! I always tell mommies to be. Everyone has advice on what works for their kid- it may or may not work for yours. I tried everything! Found what worked for me and said no to what didn’t. I breast and formula fed my kids. I made food when I had time I store bought when I didn’t. I cloth diapered when I could (cheaper) but used disposable when it was convenient. We have so much happening as parents- none of us should judge what others have to over come. It’s a hard job on an easy day. STOP THE MOMMY WARS!

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  14. Great post! I did the same thing with my first. I lost count of how many books and websites I went to trying to learn what to do with a baby. By number three, I had it all figured out. You just do what feels right and make sure you keep them safe. Everyone else can raise their kids how they want, but it’s none of their business how you choose to raise your children. There is no right or wrong. If we all did the same thing our children wouldn’t be as unique as they were meant to be. Great writing, thanks for sharing!

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  15. Love your post! I worked in childcare with infants to toddlers. No child was alike and I saw no extra intelligence in the kiddos with the picky hand made organic foods. I could, in fact though, tell apart the kids that had loving, patient and caring parents.

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  16. I love this post! As parents we all share one thing in common and that’s that we have children. Period. There are no judgements to be passed or made based on each others’ methods – if that stood true, the children of the world wouldn’t be damn good at judging aka bullying.

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  17. I love this read. I too have learned the hard way. Now I do what is best for us, I don’t listen to other people and what works for them. I glad to here I’m not the only one who feels this way. I gave my sister the same advice.

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  18. Reblogged this on The Reverend Momma and commented:
    A fret little insight for all you parents out there. And I particularly love one of the comments below: we are child rearing experts when it comes to our own children. Feel confident in that today!!

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  19. YES! Love it. You nailed it, there are so many options, too many choices. You can’t get it all right, and if you’re doing your best, you’ll get most of it right because love is the most important part.

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  20. Short and sweet advice! I’m not a mom or even thinking of becoming one, but I see the stares directed at moms sometimes and it drives me nuts. I have a realllyyyy younger brother too, so occasionally I get them, when they think he’s mine. But there’s only so much you can do when you go into a store and he *wants* that toy. Either you give in and you’re awarding the behavior and therefore a bad sister/parent, or you stick it out and then are a bad parent/sister for letting the kid cry.

    tldr; there needs to be more understanding in the world.

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  21. I’m don’t have children, but I can say that I am 100% in awe of all parents. Keeping an infant alive seems super hard. Everyone always acts like it’s easy but I am not being fooling by that masquerade. I know the second I get pregnant I will read anything and everything. Except maybe not about the birthing process… ignorance is bliss, right?

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