On Guilt and Judgement
I wrote a blog post a while back about things I thought I did differently to a lot of other people. I wrote it expecting a lot of people to read it and then tell me I was wrong, or suggest other ways of doing things. I suppose I was expecting judgement. What I actually got was a lot of people saying, “that’s not so different; I do that too.”
A couple of weeks after the post, someone sent me an email saying they had been reading my blog. She told me this post in particular made her feel that I was judging her, and that since I’d also recently made a post about women judging each other, perhaps I should be a bit more careful about what I wrote.
The email bothered me. I went back and re-read the post several times, trying to see where I might have come across in that way. I asked several people for their opinion, and although they told me they’d had no problem with that post or any other, it did make me censor myself for a while. I really didn’t want to upset people or have them think I was judging them. I’m very aware that I’m just one woman, and a lot of the time I feel completely at sea with the whole parenting thing, so the last thing I wanted was to come across as a know-it-all passing judgement on people around me doing it all wrong.
Then I read this post where the writer commented that she regretted some of the things she’d done with her first child, and had since read a lot of articles and studies that changed her viewpoint on those particular matters. She noted that a lot of the time, when faced with a different approach to their own, people will trot out the “I did it and he/she/I turned out FINE!” response, and become defensive about their own actions. The last paragraph of the piece reads:
So, I ask of you this, when you are next confronted with a piece of information that you THINK is judging you, that you think is trying to paint you as a BAD parent, pause, re-read and consider what you are painting over the picture and realise how much baggage you have brought to the place. Once you let that baggage go, once you can look at it, acknowledge it and say “I don’t have to carry you any more” then life will become that much lighter, and your parenting journey will be open to a world of learning and opportunities.
I do not consider myself as in a position to judge anyone. Sometimes, yes, I am guilty of making a snap judgement in my head, but I try my best to keep it there, in my head. Having been unfairly judged by a lot of people in recent months, I try to always remember such glib sayings as “there are two sides to every story” and “you never know what goes on behind closed doors.”
Since becoming a parent my own views and opinions on things have changed dramatically. I have friends whose parenting styles and choices vary wildly from my own, and yes, sometimes we disagree on things. But we just agree to disagree, and carry on with our lives. Who am I to say that my child will turn out any more happy, successful or well-rounded than the one next door or down the street whose mother does everything exactly opposite to me? Nobody knows exactly what they are doing with this parenting lark, and anyone who tells you they do is, quite frankly, lying out of their arse. It’s a learning curve that starts the day you pee on the stick, and doesn’t end until you shuffle off this mortal coil.
I sometimes feel judged by certain things I read, on blogs or on Facebook. I had always planned to wait until S was safely past the 6-month mark before introducing solids, but actually she was just over five months when we started. I was worried about letting people know this, in case they judged me. Then I realised that actually, they don’t care . They’re too busy worrying about what and when to feed their own child. Or their Farmville game, or whatever else.
This point was clearly illustrated the other day on Facebook, when a friend put up a post asking when mothers had started their babies on solids. There were over 20 commenters, and every single one said something different. I’m fairly sure none of them has had Social Services knocking at their door. We all have different approaches, we all think what we are doing is the right thing at the time, otherwise we would not do it. But having been so lacking in confidence in the early days of motherhood, I feel now that I need to be more vocal about my decisions, and my confidence in those decisions. When I go off on one about why this is the best decision, or that is not the right thing to do, I’m justifying to myself as much as to anyone who might be reading, confirming that I do know what I’m doing.
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