Hop onto social media for five minutes, and you’ll see a ton of articles, blog posts and status updates about mom-judging. Mom-judging is bad, we should refrain from jumping to conclusions and finger-pointing, we don’t know the other side of the story, yadda yadda yadda.
But moms love to judge other moms. Well, maybe we don’t love it, but we do it, if we’re all being honest with one another. Sometimes it’s almost instinctual, right? We want to judge the hot mess mom with the crazy hair, wearing pajamas in public. Seriously, why couldn’t she put on some pants and drag a comb through her hair?
Maybe we want to judge the mom whose kid is having an epic temper tantrum on aisle nine because she won’t give in and buy those Batman fruit snacks. What’s wrong with her? Why can’t she control her kid? Your 3-year-old has a pacifier? Your kindergartner isn’t potty-trained? You feed your kids Lunchables? Judge, judge, judge.
We all parent differently, and we don’t know what we don’t know. The pajama-wearing train wreck might have been at the ER all night with a sick kid. The kindergartner who isn’t potty-trained might have some medical issues we don’t know about and that are frankly none of our effing beez.
Judging is bad. Except when it isn’t. Except when it’s warranted.
Maybe the pendulum has swung too far. Maybe our hesitance to judge another mother’s actions has the potential to put (or leave) a child in a harmful situation.
If you see a mom stagger out of a bar with a baby on her hip, plunk the kid in the back seat of her car and drive away, that's when it’s OK to judge her. Don’t judge her for having too much to drink "on the mom clock." Don’t judge her for taking her baby into a bar. I mean, neither of those things screams “awesome parenting,” but judge her for putting her child’s life at risk.
If you see a mom dash out of her car, leaving the engine running while her 2-year-old peacefully slumbers in the back seat, and run into the drugstore for “just a minute,” you should judge her. Yes, we get what a nightmare it will be to wake up that cranky kid, take her into the store and then strap said cranky kid back into the car seat again, but leaving a child unattended in a car should never, ever happen.
If the kids next door are showing signs of abuse or neglect, then hell yes, you should judge their parents. And by signs of abuse or neglect, I don’t mean the mom lets the kids wear shirts that don’t match their shorts and gives cheese puffs instead of kale chips for snacks. There’s a difference between abuse and being a slightly lazy (or maybe just tired) parent, and we’re all smart enough to know where that line is drawn.
But do more than judge. Get involved. Speak up. Say something. Call someone. You might not be comfortable approaching an intoxicated stranger and questioning her about her fitness to get in the car with her child, and that’s OK. But you’re capable of writing down a license plate number and making a phone call.
There’s a line between mom-judging and being the bystander who fails a child. When a mom puts her child in physical danger, you bet your ass you should judge her. The mom who is turning a blind eye to her kid’s grocery store meltdown needs to be treated differently than the mom who left her kid in the car alone.
And we need to know the difference.
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