One Reason Why Other Moms Judge You (And Why It’s Okay)
Why are moms so judgmental of other moms? This was a question I asked myself often as a new mom. It seemed that even before our babies were born, other moms-to-be were already asking each other tons of personal questions like, “Will you do labor and delivery with no meds?” or “Will you breastfeed?”
In play groups in person and in forums online, we’d find out answers to our pressing “Do you or don’t you”? questions and then separate ourselves into groups. Within those groups we’d talk about how other moms thought we were wrong.
We all hated feeling judged by other moms and we talked about it all the time.
By the time my youngest was born, I had realized that I was spending a lot of time thinking about how other moms were judging me. It was exhausting and probably kept me from building relationships with other moms out of fear that they might judge me.
Sure, attachment parenting is all the rage now, but it was wasn’t when my boys were babies and I felt like a silenced outsider who had to hide my parenting preferences for fear of being judged.
And then it occurred to me: I can’t actually recall a single time that another mom has judged me. Who is doing the judging? Not the moms in my mom groups. We’re all commiserating about being judged, not judging other moms. I hadn’t had a single experience where another mother openly judged me and if they were judging me silently . . . well, that’s their right and it’s none of my business unless they confront me.
What if Other Moms Aren’t Judging You?
While I’m not saying that you haven’t run across a truly judgmental mom in your parenting experience, I am saying that many times we simply assume we’re being judged when we’re not. Sure, there are moms who think they’re doing everything right and have all the answers, but they are actually pretty rare. Most of us are just trying to get through the day and are at least a little insecure about our choices.
So, what if you’re not being judged at all? What if we moms are sitting around fretting over being judged when actually no one has any extra energy to put toward judging anyone?
What if our feelings of being judged are more a result of our own insecurities? Think about it.
But, what if we are all judging each other? And what if that’s not a bad thing? What if it’s helping us to be better moms?
One Reason That It’s Okay to Judge Other Moms
Let’s look at the meaning of the word judge. (Don’t you love it when we amateur philosophers pull out that overused tactic? Bear with me.)
The word judge is a verb that means ‘to form an opinion or conclusion about’. That’s it. It doesn’t mean ‘to look down one’s nose at another’ or ‘to exclude one from the group’.
Why is this important and why is it okay to judge other moms?
Because we moms have a limited amount of time and we need support from other moms we feel comfortable with.
When I was a young mother I surrounded myself with other moms who were like-minded. If my preference was to co-sleep with my child and I was having an issue related to co-sleeping, I wouldn’t get the support or answers I needed from my friends who found that co-sleeping wasn’t right for their family.
If I felt that not using the cry-it-out method was right for my family, why would I seek help or support from a mom who found that CIO worked for her?
We are so busy with our little ones and we have limited time and energy to spend on friendships with other moms. Yet, those friendships are paramount to helping us keep our sanity in these brief, but intense years.
It’s a good survival technique to seek out other moms who are like-minded and can help us get through the parenting years. It’s smart to figure out what other moms think about breastfeeding, co-sleeping, discipline, homeschooling, and all of the other big topics that will consume us for years as we raise our children in the way we feel is best for them, our family and ourselves.
Especially in the early days of parenting, most of my conversations with other moms centered around the things that we were all entrenched in – our days were consumed with mothering and we thought nearly constantly about mothering and child rearing. We needed each other.
I needed to talk with and be with other moms who tandem nursed. I needed to avoid playdates with moms who smacked or yelled at their children and caused my children to be fearful. It was simply a matter of survival to find my tribe of mothers and stick close to them. It had nothing to do with whether or not I thought moms who didn’t parent like me were wrong. I didn’t have enough energy to even consider if they were wrong. I only knew that I needed friends who could support me and whom I could offer support in return.
By judging other moms in the early years of parenting I found my support group and was able to be a better friend because of the shared experience of our parenting style.
Are Mom Cliques a Bad Thing?
What I’ve found is that all of these differences in parenting styles cease to matter once your children are over the age of seven. Moms naturally stop talking about and needing support for the most contentious choices we have to make in early parenting around that time.
It’s gets easier around this time to have supportive friendships with other moms who may have different parenting philosophies. That’s because, by time the time you’ve been parenting for 7-10 years, you’ve become more confident and more secure in your ideals. Of course, you still need support, but parenting becomes a little less all-consuming. But just a little. Just enough, actually.
I don’t think mom cliques are necessarily a bad thing. I prefer to think of them as mom tribes. We still need our tribe, but once we’re more steady on our feet in this parenting thing, we can venture out a bit.
That cloth-diapering, baby-wearing mom you had nothing in common with ten years ago is now the same mom you love to talk knitting with on the sideline of your son’s soccer games. That mom who breastfed her children for four years each is the same mom who shares your love for volunteering at the humane shelter. And it just so happens you both have children, which is another thing you have an common. In the early years of parenting, you may have judged each other and found that a friendship was pointless. And that is okay.
Find Your Mothering Tribe
If you’re in the early years of parenting, go ahead, judge other moms. Find your mothering tribe and hold on to them like the gold they are. Surround yourself with other like-minded moms who can support you and to whom you can offer support. It’s vital for your survival.
Just as importantly, stop holding on to moms who can’t help you and to whom you can offer no help. You aren’t right for each other, at least not yet.
Of course, no mom should be openly proclaiming that another mom is ‘doing it wrong’. That should really go without saying. The mom friends you allow into your circle should be supportive of your choices and you, in return, should be supportive of theirs. But, you should never feel guilty for not pursuing a friendship with another mom who is not on your wavelength. Nor, should you feel judged or persecuted when another mom makes the healthy decision to spend less time with you and more time with other like-minded moms.
Resources for Meeting Like-Minded Moms
If you’re struggling to find your Mommy Tribe, check out these great resources.