Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged

I know that we're often criticized for our "parenting."

I don't really consider most of my involvement with my stepkids as parenting any longer, because they're older now and I've severely cut back in my involvement with the kids in general. This is also primarily due to a major change in circumstances that we waited for for many years. I step in when I have to (their dad is unavailable), when my husband has asked me to, or when the kids have asked me to. Overall, my husband does the parenting now, though he often discusses things with me still and his choices are built out of years of  our parenting together.

I realized that I hear moms criticize other moms constantly. It seems like absolutely no mom agrees with any other mom's parenting. This judgement is simultaneously held as a belief that they alone are the only one in the universe that knows how to parent/mother their own child.

Believing the latter should probably actually lead to the opposite: acceptance and tolerance of other parenting/mothering styles, since it assumes that parents hold privileged knowledge of their children that none other could discern. Instead, it seems to continue the train of judgement on everyone else. This follows the post-modernist belief that we each hold our own truth, as long as your truth doesn't come in contact with my truth...

I think it's just another example of woman-to-woman hate. There was an interesting line in the most recent "The Good Wife." The main character poses that it's not really a question of whether men and women can be friends- but whether women can be friends. I have always wondered the same. There are so many unnecessary judgments, gossip fests, assumptions, grudges, and intolerances built up between women, and mothering is the most sensitive topic of them all.

I think that it is wise for all women to keep in mind that for every woman you judge based on her mothering style, you can be sure that others have judged your mothering, as well.

I even hear endless criticism of women, from small comments to entire discussions, who have extremely unique circumstances, such as bouts of serious illness, large and complicated families, mental illness, poverty, or children with special needs. We even hear and see it in the news, daily, regarding famous mothers that we don't even know...We judge single instances caught on tape with extreme superiority, as if our own parenting is perfect and we would never say something cruel to a child or make such a "hideous" mistake.

Mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. But some parents parent the way they do because they have to. We have a right to question the parent who is endangering the life of a child, and many of us have specifically been tasked with reporting such abuses to authorities. Beyond that, taking instances out of context, trusting someone else's word without understanding the parent or home, or coming up with your own layer of assumptions on top of a situation, just continues the cycle of mothers judging mothers.

And sadly, given the habits we have of telling too many people what we think, those judgement very likely make it back around to the judged, causing unnecessary hurt and a wall of distrust.

John 8
New Living Translation (NLT)
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 
10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”11 “No, Lord,” she said.And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”


  1. Thank you for posting that verse; it brought me to tears. Your entire post is wonderful. Thank you for the insight. It's made a difference in my day.

    I'm both a biomom and a stepmom. Each role takes turns being the toughest on any given day. I'm constantly smack dab in the middle of both, trying to do the best I can on either end. I pray a lot! When I'm still and listen, sometimes the right choices come to me. Other times, my emotions overwhelm me and I make choices based on that. That's usually not a good outcome.

    Anyway, thanks for making your blog, it's a help.

  2. Thank you for posting.

    All women make good choices, bad choices, just like a human would. Moms don't know whether their choices will work out in the end, and they pray that their children will do well based on their parenting (or, at least we assume most moms do).

    One thing to consider: Social psychology studies have proven that kids are developmentally harmed if they are NOT exposed to emotion and arguments from or between their parents. Too much emotion (disorder, mental illness) or arguments (abuse, severely failing marriage) can be detrimental, but hiding mistakes, arguments, and emotion from kids is also harmful. A family magazine I read often recommends to address mistakes with your kids, apologizing and discussing it openly to model to your children humility, apologies, and corrective behavioral action.

    So, imperfections are actually healthy. =)

    What I've noticed since my mid-20s is that some of the most judged parents in my life seem to have a reason associated with their behavior or parenting style. And if you were to overtly ask them why they do as they do, they will tell you immediately, as they're amusingly seem to be completely aware that they can come off looking nuts to others.

    A perfect example: A mother of children with severe allergies is going to come off a bit more uptight than others. She is on edge, at all times, worried that her kids could be killed by something as trivial as a peanut or a bee. If you were a mom who was constantly plagued with this fear, wouldn't you seem a bit controlling or overprotective? Yes.

    Similarly, we have no idea what each mom has experienced in their upbringing that has shaped their parenting. Some people parent like their parents, and others swing to the exact opposite because they believe they were harmed by their parents. They may or may not be aware of their extremes, but everyone judges them for it, not taking into consideration the unknown past.

    I was taught to find out WHY someone is the way that they are. I can't tell you the amount of calm I feel when I finally find out what was going on that caused a certain situation. So, I may disagree with someone's "style", but I also simultaneously know that given their situation, they developed their own strategy. I can theorize on how it may backfire on them, but it seems like any parenting, whatsoever, can backfire. It's an art, not a science.