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Being the Judgmental Mother

Last night I got called out by the moderator for a Facebook comment I made in a  mom’s group. Along the lines of …but we aren’t judging, right? Different strokes for different folks…

She is a fabulous moderator, on a team of four that manage to generally keep the peace in an insanely large, 2500-member group. I don’t envy her job. But I think that in this instance, her desire to keep the peace was borderline dangerous.

The post in question was about Postpartum Depression, and some of the answers encouraged non-compliance with medication. I voiced my dissent – based on personal experience, I think supporting any alternative medicine as a frontline option for a person who dislikes medicine but has been hospitalized could be dangerous. PPD and PPA (Postpartum Anxiety) are like the Wu Tang Clan – ain’t nothing to fuck with.

Maybe my words sounded harsh, but I didn’t agree with some of the other commenters in a situation that I deemed serious. PPD is common and curable, but if left untreated, can be harmful or fatal to both mothers and babies.

I wasn’t being mean. I didn’t make a personal attack or use bad language. Was I being judgmental? Maybe I was. But is that such a bad thing?

We’re told as parents to stop judging one another. Yes, there absolutely can be some nastiness among mothers, just as there can be in any peer group. Everything in the daily routine of baby care is another decision point that could invite judgment – cloth diapers or disposables; breast-feeding, formula or combo-feeding; rock and play, bassinet, crib or co-sleeping; purees or baby-led weaning – the list is as extensive as you make it.

There is a difference between disagreement and judgement

Today at Target a woman had her infant carseat in the child seat section of the shopping cart, which while very common, is actually dangerous. If I said something to her, would she have felt judged? My brother has my nephew in a car seat he had clearly outgrown – will he think I’m judging his skills if I mention this to him? A nursing friend worries that her supply is low and begins supplementing with formula. If I mention that doing so may negatively impact the supply she is trying to protect, will she think I’m formula shaming her?

You know how I learned about the shopping cart thing? My friend told me about it, as she was gently told by a stranger how dangerous it was when she did it herself. She didn’t feel judged, but helped. But are we all that open? No.

I believe that telling a mother to stop being judgmental, or that her disagreement is not being supportive, sets a dangerous precedent to not share information with each other.

There are times that I don’t agree with my friends, or that they don’t agree with me. That’s the nature of relationships. Then again, I wouldn’t stay friends with someone who just says yes to me all the time. Why is it – or should it – suddenly be different when we become mothers? Has the act of being pregnant and giving birth made us infallible?

Yes, there is such a thing as just being nasty and judgmental. It’s like the mean girl in high school who says, “I’m just blunt.” No, you’re mean. But then there are the people who are honest without being disrespectful.

Disagreeing with how someone is doing something is not the same as being judgmental in a nasty way. When we disagree respectfully, we can share information openly in a way that could help us all be better parents.

 

 

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