How “mom judgment” is driving some women crazy

Posted at 1:51 PM, Oct 09, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-09 13:54:57-04

By Kelly Wallace


Editor’s note: Kelly Wallace is CNN’s digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. She is a mom of two girls. Read her other columns and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter.

(CNN) — Most moms will say that “mom judgment” drives them batty and that they long for a day when moms actually stop criticizing one another.

But how many will admit they actually aren’t just on the receiving end, that they do some of the judging themselves?

I’m not proud to say I’ve done my share of it, especially when I see a child having a meltdown in a restaurant. My compassionate self remembers when my daughters went boneless on me as toddlers, but from time to time, a quick judgy thought comes before the sensitivity: “Shouldn’t that mom do something to control her child?”

Michelle Noehren, founder and manager of the site Connecticut Working Moms, says she’s guilty of having similar thoughts when she sees a child having a tantrum in a store. But here’s the million-dollar question: Why are we so quick to judge other moms?

“I think a lot of it stems from feeling strongly attached to our own opinions and choices,” said Noehren, a mom of a 3-year-old daughter in Glastonbury, Connecticut. “When we hold tightly to our opinions of what we think is best, it can be hard to understand that others might do something different than we do, and that’s completely OK.”

Tired of all the judging and hoping to help pave the way for more sisterhood and support among moms, Noehren and her fellow moms at CTWorkingMoms have delivered an encore to their fabulous photo spread “End the Mommy Wars,” which went viral last year.

In the latest one, which they call “Hugs, Not Judgment,” moms hold up signs with messages such as “The mom in me honors the mom in you. Namaste.”

Another sign reads, “If it works for you and your family, stick with it. Try not to think about what everyone else thinks.”

And another, which says, “Trust your instinct. You have the power to know what’s best for your children.”

“In a culture that likes to pit moms against moms, it’s rare to see images of us coming together in a loving, supportive way,” Noehren said.

“Take one look at your Facebook news feed, and you’re bound to see at least one headline from either a media outlet or parenting website that encourages judgment by saying things like ’10 reasons breastfeeding is best.’ ” (The judgment there: If you don’t breastfeed, you are clearly not doing enough to take care of your baby!)

I’m all for ending the judgment, but isn’t it wishful thinking to believe we can actually kiss it goodbye and replace it with sisterhood and camaraderie? I mean, how can you prevent that judgy voice from rearing its ugly head?

Noehren has one piece of advice, and in my humble opinion, it’s something you can actually do. The minute a judgy thought enters your mind, how about replacing it with a positive one?

Instead of wondering why the mom in Target can’t get her son or daughter under control, Noehren wrote in a blog post, how about thinking something like, “Maybe that mom has had a really hard day and geez my kid has tantrums, too, I don’t know what her situation is like so who am I to judge it?

“And then I feel a million times better because it feels better to choose love over judgment. It’s like we’re not only giving our own heart a little hug. We’re giving that other mom a little hug too (albeit, in our mind).”

Easy enough, right?

I hope the next time my parenting is less than perfect in public, which could be as early as this evening, another mom will try this approach. She’ll feel better, and I will, too.

How do you think we can stop moms from judging other moms? Tell Kelly Wallace on Twitter or CNN Living on Facebook.

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