why is it so tempting to judge other parents?

i have to leave in about 45 minutes to pick jared & amanda up at the airport. jared is coming home for a few days to attend our baby shower (it is not ladies-only, obviously), & amanda is flying out from philly for the weekend to attend. i am not excited about the highway driving, especially because it’s windy & my car is tiny & made out of plastic, but it’s one last hurdle to overcome & then i get to see jared again!

i am a tiny bit anxious about the baby shower. i have this weird idea that most people we know don’t really understand that the point of a shower is to give the expecting parents things that they may need in order to take care of their baby. i’m worried that a bunch of people will show up empty-handed & just eat all the snacks. it’s not even like it would be terrible if that happened–it would still be nice to see people, whether they have gifts or not. & we’re in reasonably good shape as far as having a lot of what we need for the baby. the only really crucial items we’re missing are a diaper stash & some crib sheets. pretty much anything else we get is gravy. i am going to chalk this one up to the fact that i am clearly just not satisfied unless i am unreasonably anxiety-ridden about something.

one of my friends told me the other day that out of everyone she has known who has had a baby, i seem like i am the most prepared. i asked her to elaborate & she said that she was impressed with the way i seem to have thought through a lot of the little details & come up with good explanations for why i have chosen the baby gear i’ve chosen & why i’m rejecting what i’m rejecting. she said that most people she knows got really hung up on wanting a bottle warmer & a wipes warmer & lots of cute photo-op baby outfits & didn’t really have all the practical goods that could have helped them out.

i feel that i should mention that the person who was telling me this is not herself a parent. so, while i appreciate the sentiment, because i do feel like i’ve done my homework when it comes to the baby industrial complex, i am taking her praise with a grain of salt. even if you have a lot of friends with babies & have seen a lot of them make the same mistakes, it’s still just a little too easy to sit on the sidelines without a baby yourself & comment on those mistakes. i mean, i can hardly hold myself back from doing it & i actually will have my very own baby to screw up in just a couple of months. example: i was reading a new mama blog recently & the woman who writes it was talking about how breastfeeding is way harder than she expected it to be. she said that she has her baby on a three-hour schedule, but by the time the next feeding rolls around, baby is screaming because she’s so hungry/thirsty, & the mom is so engorged with milk that she ends up spraying milk all over the baby before baby can get a good latch. i was reading this & thinking, “well, maybe try feeding on demand. baby will be calmer because you’re not making her wait, & you won’t be so bursting with milk that baby gets a free shower out of the deal.”

easy for me to say, i guess? feeding on demand seems intuitive to me, but different strokes for different folks. she probably has her reasons for trying to get her baby to eat on a schedule. she also talked about how she was worried her baby wasn’t getting enough to eat, what with all the milk being wasted due to the sprinkler system situation she has going on, so she had started giving the baby a bottle of milk & rice cereal every day. her baby was six weeks old. i totally gasped & clutched my pearls. does ANYONE recommend starting a baby on solids that early? the pediatric community seems to waffle between four & six months every few years, but NO ONE is suggesting rice cereal for a six-week-old baby. but then i got a grip on myself & was like, “you know what? it’s not your baby. & this mom probably isn’t doing permanent damage to her baby by giving it some rice cereal. chill out.” it does make me feel really sad when breastfeeding doesn’t come effortlessly to a new mom & she starts worrying that her baby is starving & following questionable advice to address problems that probably aren’t even real, but judging those moms doesn’t really help anyone.

someone told me recently, “i think judging other parents is a good thing. by looking at the mistakes other parents make, i help myself be a better parent to my own kids.” i don’t really support that. like…at all. i think you can totally learn from seeing what other parents are doing & figuring out what you like & don’t like about their styles, but in the absence of abuse, i don’t see how it helps anyone to judge. i think judging comes from a place of personal insecurity–you don’t feel confident in your own choices, so you tear down the choices of others. especially about stuff that doesn’t really make a huge difference over the long haul, like feeding on demand as opposed to scheduled feedings, or co-sleeping as opposed to crying it out. you’ll always have some basketcase somewhere growing up & going to therapy to address the fact that they weren’t breastfed or were breastfed for too long (this is pretty much all alison bechdel’s most recent book was about), but it doesn’t make a huge difference to most of us. i plan to adopt a lot of attachment parenting principles because they seem to be the most convenient for my lifestyle. i am hopeful that they will also help me have a happy baby that is a pleasure to take care of, but i was such a horrible monster myself, just by virtue of inborn temperment, i’m not really banking on it.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

One thought on “why is it so tempting to judge other parents?

  1. Totally agree regarding how easy (and not helpful for anyone!) it is to judge parents. I definitely fear both sides – becoming judgmental of others’ decisions, and being subjected to others’ judgments about my parenting decisions.

    BUT, I do think feeding a six-week old baby rice cereal might be harmful, if only because of the recent discovery that rice contains high levels of both organic and inorganic arsenic, which can cause serious health problems, especially in babies and children.

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