Judge Not

This post has been bopping around my brain like a jacked-up crackhead for months now. It's not like I'm going to break any blogging barriers here, discussing the played-out, godawful Mommy issue of judging, but I do want to discuss it anyway. People seem to call it "mommy wars", which just makes me think of catty little bitches with perfectly coiffed hair, driving their dreadfully suburban-named kids around in minivans. Therefore, I take no part in such endeavours.

I'm not against judgement - how can you not judge other people at all? If any of you are clear of judgement, parenting or otherwise, please tell me your secret. Is it ok to judge if the judgee isn't aware of your views? Do you only become judgemental once your views are known?

I've got this bee in my bonnet because I was reading a post on another blog about crazy Dr Laura's new book on how the only good mom is a SAHM, or something equally vitriolic. I have no time for that crazy witch, so I don't really care what she has to say. However, within the comments section a SAHM said that it is known that children with a stay-at-home parent (which, let's face it, is almost always the mother) are unequivocally better off than a child whose parents work full-time. Really? REALLY? Say what?

Fair enough to say that one way or the other is best for you, but is there a reason to tell us working mothers that we are raising our children in far less than ideal situations? Can't you just say "I love staying home with my BAYYYYYYBEEEES!" and be done with it? I get The Look all the time - the one that says "what are you doing here at work when you have a child?" Some people are so bold as to ask where P is during the day and how long she's in there, imprisoned. I know it's a well-tread topic on my blog, but each time I get The Look I feel like it's the first time I've been outwardly judged.

I judge all the time in my head - I have opinions on smoking and/or drinking around children, bottles, juice, bottles WITH juice, vaccinations, lack of discipline, blah blah blah. Am I still judgmental? I would never dream of vocalising my differing views to anyone but The Dude, but even with that limited audience I still do it from high atop my soapbox. My rationale is that at least I don't make people feel shit for their choices, choices that were best for them.

This rambling load of nonsense is just my way of petitioning people to just keep their opinions to themselves. It's fine to think that I'm a poor mother for abandoning my latchkey toddler, but save the raised eyebrows for someone who cares what you have to say.


Anonymous said...

You know, I can't tell children raised by SAHMs from those raised by parents who both work 50-hour-weeks. Manners, security, cheerfulness, all seem to depend on entirely other factors, not least the kid's own personality. So to all persons getting off on judging a working mother, sheesh, sort your OWN issues out first, ding-bats.

P's manners are so very sweet I am convinced you and the Dude are doing a perfect job as is.

EJW said...

I am a better mother because I go to work. Plain and simple.

My kid's daycare workers are the absolute most patient, caring, and generally amazing people I've ever met. I know that I couldn't do half the job they do, if I were forced to stay home with him, and I'm pretty fond of the little bugger. Because he's there 45-50 hours a week, I can be more patient and more fun and generally a better parent. Would a strung-out, impatient, shrill nag really be better for my kid, on a day-to-day basis, than wonderful teachers at school and a mentally satisfied, excited mommy at home? I highly doubt it.

I suppose not being able to stay home means I probably shouldn't have had kids in the first place. Ooops.

(Not to mention the value of seeing both his parents go to work in meaningful jobs, balance their lives, and bring home relatively equal paychecks.)

May said...

Amen, sister!

Anita said...

Hello everyone my name is A and I'm a judger, yes I am. I have several opinions about how others raise their kids but will never voice them to anyone other than Sgt because that would just be bitchy and mean, even though I am both of those. There is one (or two or three or more) bloggers that I no longer read because I can not stand how they seem to be raising their child(ren). There is one very popular mommy-blogger that really gets to me. I want to reach through the screen and shake the idiot out of her but I can't. Wait, where was I going with this? Sorry Pru I forgot this was your soapbox and not miine. Let me step down.

I guess my kids are all unequivocally screwed because I work out of the home. If that is the case I will one day have some excellent company while sitting in the waiting room of their therapists office. Will you bring the coffe Pru, I'll bring the cookies.

Aunt Becky said...

I'm ridiculously judgey, but not typically when it comes to parenting. I figure that so long as (most) people are happy, healthy and safe, why bother?

I stay at home with my kids. Some days I hate it. Some days I love it. I'm lucky to have the choice.

You can be a shitty mother and stay home or be a shitty mother and work.

Eva said...

I'm putting on my nerd hat to say that the research actually says that it doesn't matter whether mothers work or not. What matters is their satisfaction with their roles. Someone who is satsified with her work role and working does a better job at parenting (on specific measures of parenting) than someone who stays at home but is dissatisfied with that role. And the reverse is true -- women who are dissatisfied with working do worse on parenting dimensions than women who are satisfied with being home. It really does depend on the specific mother. So there random commenter.

Caro said...

One of the thing I don't miss about the UK is the people who are judgey judgey about working mothers (and there are a LOT of them)

Shinny said...

I used to get the question, "Where is Alex?", back when I was single parenting, working full time to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. I got this question when, Gasp, I would go out to a bar at night on a weekend. My parents had the boy so he was fine or hey, I could get a babysitter too. But my answer back after several times of this was, "He is in my trunk." Because really people, where the F do you think he is? Yeah, I left my 2 year old at home, ALONE. I didn't think I came across as that bad of a parent, geez.
We all "judge" others, it is human nature and if there is actually one person out there who has never made a judgement on another person, Well they are perfect and need to breed mass quantities then to improve the world. Whatever!
Good luck and don't let stupid people's comments ruin your day. You are doing what works best for your family at this point in time. We all have to eat and the public really frowns on eating your child because you were a SAHM and couldn't afford food. (JOKE PEOPLE DON'T FREAK)

statia said...

I think everyone is judgemental in some way. I know I am, but that said, I try to keep my judgements either in my head or voiced to the hubs.

When it comes to parenting, everyone has different styles. I personally think it's better to have a stay at home parent. BUT, that said, I don't judge if that's not the case. One, in most cases these days, both parents have to work, and yes, I think it's a personal choice. It's fucking hard to stay at home. And while I'm glad to have had the opportunity, I often wonder if Mini's delays were my fault. On the other hand, maybe they weren't and then I think, well, if he was in daycare, would they have caught it? So really, it's a catch 20 and I have no business judging parents for doing what is best for their situation.

I would be lying if I said that I didn't judge other parenting things in my head, though. I know that not everyone agrees with my parenting style either. I'm OK with that.

I think that at the end of the day, parenting is hard enough, and making it through the day unscathed is the ultimate goal. Just because we differ, doesn't mean that I should have the right to judge you for it.

Well, OK, maybe except you.

Lut C. said...

I agree, you can't live without judging (and often even pre-judging). How else would you be able to focus your attention on matters that really need attention?
When you meet new people, you can't always wait and see if they're trustworthy or not. You go with your gut feeling. You always judge.

Where I live, working mothers have become more or less the norm. People ask when are you going back to work, not whether.

My girl is happy at daycare. She would be bored out of her mind all day home with me (or DH). And I do try to entertain her, but I have to cook, do laundry, occasionally clean. At daycare, they have staff for those tasks and the child minders can devote their time to the kids (and their nappies).

If you ask me, the SAHM is a pretty recent creation. Do you think farmer's wives were SAHM in the olden days? What about working class women in the industrial revolution? They were often forced to make their young children work as well. Noble women might not have worked as we understand it, but they had nannies to rear their kids.

I'm not convinced being a SAHM is more 'natural'.

Molly said...

Both my parents worked all of my life (until retiring a few years ago, lucky), and I went to various day cares. I remember my friends telling me their moms stayed at home and being absolutely baffled that people could do that.

Anyway, yeah. I judge, but I don't drive-by. No use being an ass to people.

Emily said...

Great post! I think even if you just judge in your head you're still a judgy-mcjudgerson. I also think its human nature. I once mentioned this to Husbando who thinks some people (those who, for example, smoke during their pregnancy) deserve to be judged - not a point I had actually considered.

I intend to work part time from home if I can swing it so I am be a smug judgy-mcjudgerson and completely confuse people and their ridiculous statements!

GingerB said...

I bet that study Eaa referred to is right - if you think you are or are not in the right role for your family, you are, ahem, right. And I agree about thj judging because I don't need anyone else second guessing me after all the second guessing I have to do myself, I am exhausted and can't take others' crap on.

Betty M said...

I work half the week at the office and half the week at home being a SAHM. Best and worst of both worlds in some ways.

I know I judge about a lot of things and am prepared to say my piece on some but working/not working is not one of them. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and whichever one or combination you do does not make you per se a better person or a better parent.

I prefer to leave my judging to areas where I am backed up by proper evidence (most of your examples). And hell I'm a lawyer judging people is my day job. I can't stop without feeling a bit unfulfilled if I'm honest.

OvaGirl said...

I guess I'm a SAHM but I'm also a working mother and my kid does 3 days of daycare a week and by god I'll take that 4th day when it's offered. Judging hmmm I guess I do it too but I generally keep my eyebrows to myself. (Or "eyebrow" as it is just now because fuck who's got the time for grooming)

Anonymous said...

for what it's worth, smoking near kids is kind of in a different category because that is a serious health risk.

Lotta said...

I hate the judgy blindside.

Me: "Would you like to go for a movie/girls night out this Thursday night?"

Othermother: Oh no! I couldn't leave the kids with my husband. And I have to hand sew all the soccer uniforms by sundown.

Bean said...

Great post. I couldn't agree more! I'll confess that I'm a very judgemental person, but like you I keep my opinions to myself or the few people that I know well enough that I KNOW they agree!

Anonymous said...

It may be a bit worn thin now but "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

Obviously, it strikes a cord or you wouldn't get all worked up about it. Some women have to work and some want to and it's no big deal. Everyone fucks up their kids in some way so if it isn't working too much, then it's staying home too much. If it isn't smothering, it's being distant. We all do the best we can and all you can hope for is to fuck them up in new and different ways than whatever your parents did to you.