I'm Judging Your Parenting -- Right Now
Just call me a Judgey McJudgerson because even though I have a kid, I still judge other parents. I judge often and I judge hard. I saw several moms on my Facebook feed share an article on the Huffington Post written by Kara Gebhart Uhl entitled "Apologies to the Parents I Judged Four Years Ago." It's a good read; make sure to check it out. To summarize it though, Uhl apologizes to the parents she judged who ignored tantruming children, fed kids McDonald's, and complained publicly about parenting, among other things.
I'm probably in the minority but I will still judge you as a parent for these things.
I can completely understand the need to feed your kids fast food once and a while. As Americans, we are incredibly busy people these days… maybe to a fault and when a kid is hungry s/he needs to eat like NOW. I've been known to grab those little pouches of apple sauce from the shelf in Wawa or cut up apples in that watery/syrupy solution from Gerber to feed to Sophia in the car because we were on the road all day. It's a necessity. Necessity is not judge worthy, in my opinion. What is judge worthy though are the parents who feed their kids crap day in and day out because it's the easy answer to loud, impatient mouths. The parents who feed their 8 month old French fries because "they like them" get a big ole side eye from me. We wonder why we have morbidly obese toddlers and it's because of parents feeding them Happy Meals, Doritos, and soda at every turn. (Note: it's not the Happy Meals', Doritos', or sodas' fault…it's the parents' fault.)
Americans also seem to suffer from verbal social media diarrhea. It's an epidemic and certainly not limited to parents. I cannot stand reading some of the Facebook updates from fellow moms. Daily they gripe about the decibel level in their home, what looks like the after effects of tornadic activity in the playroom, and the speed at which their 3-year-old eats a PB & J sandwich. Wash, rinse, and repeat every day. They're kids… they are slow, loud, and messy. I understand kids can suck the life out of you, I do. And I completely understand the need to let loose a vent when it's been a particularly soul-sucking day -- but every day? Uh, no.
I don't even know how a parent can find the time to Facebook and tweet about all the soul sucking going on, let alone do it multiple times every.single.day. You're going to end up developing the "cry wolf" syndrome and no one is going to care or offer you support on your truly shitty day. And if life is really this overwhelming you should get some professional help. It comes in many forms: doctors, child care, play groups, mom groups, church groups, etc. No parent is truly on their own.
And finally, the biggest thing I judge parents on, the public tantrum. I am just now starting to experience the tantrum with Sophia and I will readily admit I've only brushed the surface of it. I'm sure what I've experienced is just a blip on the radar compared to the DEFCON 5 I will get to live firsthand when she's 2-, 3-, and 4-years-old. But one thing I won't do is subject another person (besides Tim) to that shit show. Parents, if your kid is flipping his/her shit in public, please leave immediately. Take them outside, to the car, to the bathroom, somewhere so that the rest of society does not have to be subjected to it. While grown adults may try to pretend that the ear drum piercing screams don't bother them the truth is they do, a lot.
I'm not blaming you for your kid's tantrum… if anything you probably were being an awesome parent which caused the tantrum, but everyone else at the supermarket or Target shouldn't be subjected to the repercussions. I've heard the argument that leaving is giving the kid what s/he wants but sometimes you have to "lose" the battle so to speak. After all, isn't parenting all about picking and choosing your battles? And you don't always get what you want in life; this is a hard lesson kids need to learn. The items on your shopping list will still be at Target when you go back later in the day or the next day. I'm asking on behalf of parents and non-parents everywhere… have some consideration for the people around you.
Uhl's main point in her apology is that she had a version of how reality should be with children and now that she has kids it has changed and how no one knows a parent's circumstance. I disagree. My reality (and the reality Uhl described in her post) hasn't changed so drastically since birthing Sophia. I still need to eat right, stop whining about decisions I made, and be considerate of other people. The only thing that has changed is that I now need to pass on these tenets to Sophia by feeding her well, accepting that some days are going to be more trying than others, and help her come to the realization that she's not going to get everything that she wants and the world does not revolve around her. I also don't think any of these things are going to be affected based on a parent's circumstances.
Are you a parent? Do you still judge other parents? What situations do you judge?
Photo Credits: Brian Turner.