Who, Me? Judgmental?

So last week I wrote a post that struck a nerve with a lot of people. In case you missed it, here’s the link: “Mocking Your Children Does Not Make You Awesome.”  If I’m being honest, I cringed while I hit “publish” and then waited in a flop sweat for the comments to roll in. And boy, did they ever roll. On the blog, on Facebook, you name it…while I got a ton of support (which I appreciated), I also got some negatives, which are welcome as long as they are respectful and add to the discussion (meaning a few nasties were deleted without apology). Some people just didn’t understand what the big deal was all about. And that’s cool. However, there were a few people who chided me for being judgmental of other parents. And I admit, those were the comments that gave me pause.

Am I Judging Other parents?

You see, if one of my soapboxes is treating little ones with respect, another one is judgmental parents. You can read about a time where I felt judged HERE and how it made me feel.  But honestly, I feel judged pretty much all the time for my parenting choices and shortcomings, and I’m my own worst critic. I was only able to breastfeed for a few months. My kids don’t eat perfectly balanced organic meals every day. My house is always a mess. One of my kids still isn’t potty trained. I’m not satisfied with our schools and am considering homeschooling. The list goes on. So I was a bit chagrined to think that I’d joined the masses of judgmental parents that I alternatively shy away from and rail against.

Is Keeping Our Mouths Shut Always A Good Thing?

But then I got to thinking…if we all swallow our opinions and keep quiet for fear of being labeled “judgmental,” does that really make our world a better place?  One of my bloggy buds put it pretty succinctly, “I think if you aren’t allowed to discuss another point of view, then others don’t have a chance to reevaluate their position, even if they don’t ultimately change their behavior.” My hope is that my post (and any that may come in the future) made a few people stop and think. That’s all. If in your heart of hearts you don’t feel like posting those photos is disrespectful, go for it. I don’t have to look. But if my post made you uncomfortable at all, if you felt a twinge deep down that maybe I was a teeny bit right,  I challenge you to explore that feeling rather than dismiss me as another judgmental parent to lash out against.  Another of my buds phrased it perfectly, “I am all for someone standing up for kindness, empathy, and treating others with respect.” And if that means I’m judgmental…well, I guess I’ll have to live with that, won’t I?

I’d love to hear what you have to say…did my post make you feel judged? When is it ok to voice our opinions on parenting issues?

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Comments

  1. The whole “let’s stop judging and just love each other” comment is one of my bugbears. We live in society and our society has morals and standards by which we live. Debate about these is important. If someone is abusing a child and they say “stop judging the way I parent” will we let them get away with it? No, of course not.

    I make parenting decisions which I think are best for my children and I will defend these parenting decisions. You can look at these and disagree and try to convince me otherwise. I hate it when people shut down a debate using the “judgemental” label. Usually what people mean is “Stop judging what I do…. but I’m not going to stop judging you”.

    Sorry for the rant ;) Like I said…. one of my bugbears.

  2. Stephanie, I appreciated your post- people love to show-off/ exploit their children all to often for their own benefit. I post photos of my children mostly for my husband + I as a reminder of how precious life is. I feel we all need to be ‘judgemental” all the time to make the best choices for OUR children and OUR families. Having different views are fine- tolerance is what is needed.

  3. Once again, you raised some great points, Stephanie! Your other post didn’t make me feel judged, nor did I think you were judging someone else. It felt like you were trying to make a point to look at things from the kiddos’ perspectives and parent accordingly. I know it gave me and some mama friends some good points to think on. :)

  4. HonestOpinion says:

    I felt that the original post was judgmental, based on the many assumptions it contained, ie if a parent posts a photo of their kid crying they are only doing so to be cool and that these posts are mocking and therefore disrespectful. All judgments.

    This post feels as a doubling-down of the judgment. As if to say “it is OK to judge because I feel it is wrong and I made people think”. If truly the intention was to encourage thought and not pass judgement then why not express curiosity as to why someone would post a photo featuring a frustrated child instead of pre- determining the reason and nature of the posts?

    Everyone judges others at some point and everyone is judged at some point, it is human nature. The intent may not have been to judge but the original post had qualities that were judgmental.

    • I’m sorry you felt that way, Honest Opinion! Thanks for your comment.

    • I agree. There’s nothing more to add. I just wanted to give some positive support to the countering opinion. It’s not easy to speak up.

    • Honest Opinion, I got a completely different feel from the first article. Maybe *my* assumptions of that first post were wrong?

      I think it all comes down to intent for me. Is the picture intended to make fun of your kid? Are you taking the picture now to laugh rather than help? In general, I just got the ‘don’t be a jerk to your kids’ vibe. I have at least one picture I’ve posted of my kid crying on my Facebook page. I think it’s a cute picture and I don’t feel judged for it.

      In the end, that’s what thoughtful debates are about. :>

      • Stephanie says:

        YES Val! It’s all about intent. I’d be lying if I said I have never captured a photo of the kids crying or unhappy- it’s natural if you are a parent that takes lots of photos! My objection is when it’s posted with the INTENT of getting laughs/attention for yourself at your child’s expense. You make your intent clear the words that you choose to accompany your photo. I’m so glad that you were able to see the difference and did not feel judged for your actions. You are right- I just want people to think twice about their motives and how they are treating their little ones. I am not condemning every parent that ever posted a photo of an unhappy child on the internet. Thank you so much for your comment ;)

  5. I am very thankful for you post, both the last one, this one and any before. I think that you have a voice and you have ideas and opinions that are valid. Whether I agree with you or not, is not the point. The fact is, you are a writer. Writers are not going to make everyone happy. Writers are not going to please the masses. Some of the best posts and articles I have read are the ones that call out the shenanigans of others.

    I’ll be honest… I was scared after your last post that maybe I too, mock my children. It is good for us to reevaluate our parenting. It is good to be called out and checked.

    You were in no way, saying that you were better than anyone else. You were stating your opinions and I value that.
    Keep going! :)

    I’ll be here to read.

    • Thanks, Dayna! I definitely don’t think I’m better at this parenting game than anyone else. Passably mediocre on a good day, LOL! But I’m trying me best to raise them with a shred of self-esteem still intact!

  6. Stephanie,
    I, too, shy away from judgmental parents. I cannot express in specific terms what makes certain posts and conversations feel judgmental to me and what it is about others that do not. I can tell you that your post hit a nerve with me but it was the good kind. I am not technologically savvy enough to post while my child is in a tantrum but I have, on occasion, made a joke about my child’s tantrums to a witness. It both feels good and doesn’t when I do it. I feel like I have an ally in the witness but I also feel that I may be being insensitive to my daughter. It was the point you made about their tender hearts that made me realize specifically why part of me does not feel good when I do it. She is almost three. When she pitches a fit, she does not understand why she feels the way she feels. She only knows that she feels bad and instead partnering with her to give her the tools to understand herself, I am turning to someone else (someone who already has the capacity to handle their emotions) and partnering with them in a joke instead. It is subtle. My daughter may not even notice but I, while not able to articulate it until now, did notice. I talked about your post with my husband. We decided to sign up for the free webinar because, for me, there is an art to guiding your child through these times as opposed to giving in and avoiding these times or telling them what they feel and rushing them through these times or making these times a joke. I aspire to be more of a guide. So your post did indict me but in a good way. I have needed to think about this and now I am. Peace.

    • Oh Teresa, your comment has made all of the controversy of these posts worth it. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to comment, and I hope you like the webinar. Amy is AMAZING- I recently completed her full course and have already seen positive changes in the way I deal with my kiddos. Thank you 1,000 times over for chiming in!

  7. love love love what your other bud said: “I am all for someone standing up for kindness, empathy, and treating others with respect.”

    In that case I’m completely judgmental, because if it comes down to being kind and standing up for kindness than count me in for being judge-y! xx

  8. I do not think that you post was judgmental, it was evaluative. It is disrespectful to publish a picture of someone going through a rough time without thier consent, especially if the conversation that follows is snarky. I have big emotions about silly things sometimes, If my husband snapped a shot of me crying over spilled milk (which I have done, expensive raw milk from a far away farm….) and published it, I would be hurt and furious. Sometimes I think it helps to put ourself in their (kids) shoes.

  9. Excellent post Stephanie. I think the term “judgmental” has been taken too far these days. It seems you cannot ever say an opinion or a thought or a simple fact about your life without someone else thinking you are “”judging” them. People, they are not the same thing. You can have different opinions and live different lifestyles without judging those who do not share your feelings. People who are always feeling “judged” are actually the ones with the issue. Case in point..let me state a couple simple facts about me that can be “hot topics”:

    My boys are not circumcised
    I breastfed all my children until at least a year
    I co sleep
    I don’t do “cry it out” with my kids
    I don’t spank

    So…anyone here feel judged? If you do, it’s certainly not MY fault because I do not judge anyone who does anything differently than I wrote above. They are simply facts about my life. I honestly could care LESS about how other people feed their kids, do bedtime, or discipline as long as your kids are healthy and happy!

    Another issue I’ve seen lately is “bragging.” Apparently you cannot share anything positive in your life because it’s “bragging.” I don’t get it. If we can’t share our differing opinions or even just the GOOD stuff in life with others, what on EARTH is there to talk about?

    Thanks Stephanie for writing this!

    • I never comment on blogs (though I love reading them), but this post and in particular this comment has been running around and around in my brain. I agree with Katie’s comment — her saying five things she does as a parent shouldn’t make me feel “judged.” But that’s how I felt…..and then it dawned on me……*I* am still not at peace with the fact that I wasn’t able to exclusively breastfeed my twins and that I stopped trying after I spent a week in the hospital with complications from appendicitis and my babies were only six months old. (Even here I’m trying to justify it….)

      Anyway, now I understand….I feel like people are judging me, but really it’s ME judging me.

      Does everyone else get this already, and I”m just slow? It was just such a revelation for me that I had to comment.

      Thanks for the interesting post and comment!

      • Jen, I am SO glad you commented! And yes, you totally got my point :) Oftentimes, when *I* feel judged, I realize it’s actually all me…some insecurity or something that *I* need to get over. Yes, there also ARE judgmental people..to them I say, don’t you have something better to be doing with your energy?

        And BTW, Go YOU for breastfeeding your twins in anyway you were able to! It is NOT “easy” as some people try to say (and I am on my third child..we had challenges every time), and I am not sure I’d be able to do TWO at once! You rock! :)

  10. I think a lot of judgement comes from insecurity but didn’t think your original post had that feel to it. It didn’t feel like you were just passing judgement it felt like you were a voice of reason saying “Is this OK?”.

    Judgement is human nature. We make judgements all day long. It’s how we choose to share and place value on these judgements that cause problems. I have judged for my family we do this, that or the other and when someone chooses to something else I don’t feel like my decision is lesser. I think we all need to place the right amount of clout on other people’s assessment of our personal decisions. I don’t think it’s a smart parenting choice to make fun of your kids on Instagram but I also hate olives and refuse to cook with them. Neither opinion really affects anyone but me and my family.

  11. Stephanie, bravo!! I think both articles were well written and really just important to put out there. Truthfully, we’ve all had bad parenting moments. No one is perfect. But we can all work towards being better. The fact is that mocking your children in even the smallest form is a subtle way of shaming them in pursuit of discipline. Shaming, whether obvious or sublte (as in sarcasm) not only doesn’t work, it is destructive because most little kids can’t distinguish between their actions and their selves. So instead of instead of condemning the behavior, shaming ends up condemning your child, and making them feel bad about themselves. I have done this myself, we all have. Just last night my 7-yr old decided to show off in front of his friend and used a swiss army knife to cut an apple. I heard screaming from the kitchen and he came running down the hall with the most panicked look on his face, blood everywhere. He had sliced his finger and was obviously terrified. The first thing I said was “what were you thinking?” Which made him feel even more stupid than he already did. I knew after I said it it was completely the wrong response. I took a breath and switched gears, soothing him and letting him know he would be just fine. But really…my point is that no parent has it right all the time, we are all just working on improving!! Thanks for sharing your opinions, Steph, and for reminding me to take a deep breath before I speak in anger. xo Bar

  12. Thanks for this post…. Parenting is hard work and we should all be able to support one another in the journey. We have all been ‘that’ mom but we can all move towards having those moments happen less and less.
    I appreciate hearing your opinions and enjoy the blog. Thank you!!

  13. See, this I find much more insightful than your last post. I do hope you were deleting only abusive/innapropriate comments rather than just the ones portraying you as judging other parents. It’s IMO a very fair point.

    People will always disagree to you so you may as well make your opinions count, regardless of whether agreed upon or rejected.

    Ki

    • Stephanie says:

      I’m so glad you approve of my article. And yes, only abusive comments were deleted- the comments portraying me as judgmental that were not full of vitriol were left, and you can read them for yourself ;) I also received several on Facebook that are still there for all to see. I’m not afraid of being disagreed with- I will not tolerate disrespect in a public forum.

      • I’ll check them out. I’m curious to read the other topics you’ve covered since in our last discussion you mentioned of regular readers knowing you well.

        All the best.

  14. I think part of what made it come across as judgemental and mean was that you said “Put down the camera and count to ten” as if the person was taking the picture, ignoring their child, running to facebook, and pointing and laughing at their child as they did it. Why the assumption that they aren’t doing anything good for their child? I would think most people who do this are using the seconds it takes to take a picture as their “cool down” period so that they can deal with the frustrating situation in a sane and normal manner.

    If they then post the picture later that night as they wind down after the child goes to bed, and that 3 year old won’t even see it until they are 13 and can have a Facebook account, where’s the harm? My oldest is only 11, and he loves hearing the stories of the ridiculous stuff he did when he was a toddler. He actually mentioned the other day he wishes we had taken a picture of one epic tantrum we described! Your mileage may vary.

  15. Big deal if others feel judged because you express your opinion! Chances are, they express theirs as well when given the opportunity and don’t expect you to feel that they are being judgmental!

  16. It looks to me sometimes that we have the right to voice our thoughts only when what we have to say is positive. As long as we raise our concerns or disagreement in a respectful way, what’s the problem?.

    Honestly, I feel the same way you do about this whole issue and I don’t like it when people make fun at the expense of children, may be it a parent, a grandparent or a family friend. Even if the child is not going to see the picture posted on Facebook, does it make it right? It’s like saying someone can post anything about me as far as I’m not aware! Oftentimes we minimize children’s feelings, thinking “oh, well, they are just children, it’s not a big deal!”. For me it is a big deal, it’s a matter of respect. Just imagine your child a few years later taking a picture of you while you are arguing with your husband and posting it on Facebook for all her friends to see, would we tolerate that?.
    Children deserve to get as much respect as we demand from them.
    Just my opinion.

    • Stephanie says:

      I totally agree, Carmen. Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Thanks so much for your comment!

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  1. […] Edited to add: I received a ton of comments across various social media on this post! Here is my response to a few of them…“Who, Me, Judgmental?” […]

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