Hello parent. Please take a moment to complete the following survey:
I judge other people’s parenting…
(a) sometimes, but only in the privacy of my own head.
(b) sometimes, but only to my closest friends.
(c) all the time because I am a really good parent and other people are stupid.
If you answered (d) never, then you’re a big fat faker and you need to redo the survey because you failed. I think most of us fall somewhere between (a) and (b) and the occasional jackass is a God awful (c). I have yet to meet a real actual (d) – someone who NEVER passes judgement on other people’s parenting style.
If I’m being honest, I’d have to say I’m a solid (a). I’ve caught myself passing judgement on other people’s parenting choices inside my own head, and I hate my catty, righteous self a little bit each time. So I’ve devised a technique to help squash the internal judginess that sometimes crops up out of my own misguided insecurity. The technique is called ‘Meow.’
I was at our local market one Saturday morning when I saw a child who was around five years of age (maybe even six.) At first I saw her cute, little bed head from behind. When she turned around though, her cute, little bed head had a soother stuck in the other side. I gasped and gnarled my lip in a really unflattering way. How could those parents let their five (maybe six) year old go out in public with a soother?
I caught my hideous thoughts just in time and employed the ‘Meow’ technique. I turned away from the victim of my judginess, took a deep breath, and meowed at my own child. The meow is meant to remind me to stop being catty. I chose meow because it is far more socially acceptable to make animal noises at my own seven month old than it is to be caught saying things like, “How dare you think such terrible thoughts about people you don’t even know?! Shame on you! Who do you think you are?!”
The truth is I have absolutely no place passing judgement on the soother kid or her parents. Maybe it’s the ONLY time the kid is quiet. Maybe she’s anxious and it provides comfort. Maybe she’s a really big toddler. Maybe she is on a developmental curve that requires her to use a soother at this juncture. Maybe…just maybe, her parents are too tired to go through the five to seven nights of screaming to wean her off of her addiction. And you know what? It’s none of my business and who gives a shit anyway?
Here’s how it is, it’s no one’s business if your child sleeps in a swing; nurses until he’s three; eats solids at four months; wears overnight diapers until whenever; sleeps with you until whenever; starts on cereal instead of meat or meat instead cereal; nurses all night; feeds to sleep; cries to sleep; wears diapers until he goes to school; has a soother until he’s five; or anything else you decide to do by chance, decision, happenstance or ease. It’s also none of your business what the other mother decides for her kid. So before you get all up in someone’s imaginary grill and pretend to put them in their place about their choices you disagree with, why don’t you take a huge can of shut up juice and try the ‘Meow’ technique.
As my counsellor, Dr. Phil reminds me, judgement is usually born out of insecurity. You are doing a great job. It doesn’t matter what someone else is doing, or if someone disapproves of what you are doing. You are a wonderful mother (or father if any of the male persuasion read this). You don’t need to justify anything you are doing to make someone feel better. You also don’t need to judge anything anyone else is doing to make yourself feel better.
Oh, but if I catch you smoking in the car with the windows rolled up and a kid in the backseat, then expect to see me knocking on your window at the next red light.
For everything else, ‘Meow.’