Hands Up Who Judges Other Parents
I’d like to think of myself as a pretty non-judgemental person. I like to think the best of people and give them the benefit of the doubt – sometimes to a fault. But I still catch myself in moments of judgement when I am around other parents. But hear me out, it’s usually when I am around something that I am uncomfortable with. It’s not a conscious thing. I’m not actively walking around the streets of Dublin searching for parents to judge. But it happens.
To some extent, it’s very hard to separate yourself from parenting that is happening around you. It is something you can relate and connect to so deeply. Something you are exposed to a lot and actually, it’s how you learn and pick up ideas a lot of the time. But why the judgement? Why does it happen?
I was on a bus recently and a mum parked her buggy with a newborn inside and proceeded to sit down on a seat that was three rows away from her child. I know from getting a million and one buses in my time that even when the breaks are in place on your travel system it can move when the bus takes a sharp corner or stops abruptly. I found myself sweating while this was happening. I genuinely wanted to physically stand up and stand beside the pram so that if something happened I could help the baby. It might sound dramatic but that is how I felt. I found myself in complete awe that the mother was sitting so casually chatting with her friend without a single worry regarding the pram. The funny thing is you could visible see other passengers looking around in disbelief. Some were trying to subtly (or not so subtly) get her attention. Was this situation judgement? I don’t think so because I didn’t actively affirm bad thoughts about the mother. It was a genuine reaction to a situation. I never considered her a bad mother. I just felt really uneasy about that decision and I couldn’t take my eyes off the pram for the (short, thankfully) duration of the bus journey.
And yet as I wrote the above I found myself thinking that if that mother reads this it will break my heart that she might think that I was judging her when I wasn’t. It wasn’t about the mother or her ability to be amazing. It was literally about the decision and about how at that moment I couldn’t ignore my emotions.
The same can be said for when I hear a baby cry. I’ve been in situations where a baby is roaring and just the thought of that very sound is enough to make me shiver. Call it the mothering instinct in me but I just want to do something to help the baby to stop crying. 90% of the time you can clearly see that the mother or father feels the very same way but for whatever reason cannot soothe the baby. But in that 10 % of cases where it appears that the parent is ignoring the child, I can’t help but silently panic and think badly of the situation and if I am honest – the parent.
There are certain things that we simply cannot ignore and as parents, we have such a natural reflex when it comes to the well-being of little people. It’s emotive in nature and in confined spaces like public transport and restaurants everything is amplified and feels more intense.
As a parent, I would hate to think that another parent would judge the way I do things. I’ve been the mother whose kid opened three (yes three) Kinder Surprise Eggs while she fumbled for money to pay for the shopping. I’ve been the mother whose child screeched and roared the minute we sat down at a table in ANY establishment that served food. I’ve been the mother whose child, in the middle of a performance at a holiday resort shouted: “this is bl**din’ sh**e”. But I’d like to think I’m a good mum. A loving mum. A mum who would do anything to shield her child from pain, discomfort or judgement. For that reason, I cut myself some slack when it comes to the odd time that a situation propels me into thinking a little “judgy”. It’s not a badness. It’s not because I want to judge. It’s because I’m a mum and sometimes we just can’t switch that off.
Written by Tracey Quinn staff writer at Family Friendly HQ.