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Meagan lives in St. Joseph, MI with her husband Jon and kids Clara, Owen, William, Isaac, and Jacob; who range in age from four to fifteen. Meagan celebrates the art of sane + satisfying family life at her blog The Happiest Home, and shares her ideas on being a happier mom in her book The Happiest Mom: 10 Secrets To Enjoying Motherhood, both of which have been hailed as down-to-earth, funny, wise, and helpful.

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How judging other parents makes us feel bad about ourselves

By Meagan Francis |

I consider my first few years of motherhood — particularly my (failed) attempt to be the crunchiest of crunchy mothers after the birth of my second son — the most judgmental years of my life.

They were also, as it happens, my unhappiest and most insecure years as a mom.

So, which caused which?

I always used to assume that my judge-y nature at that time stemmed from my insecurity as a mom: I wasn’t confident about what I was doing, I tried to elevate all my other choices by slamming those who chose differently.

But lately, I’ve been realizing that it went in the other direction, too: the more I judged, the more I felt judged, and the worse I felt as a mom, causing a vicious cycle of judgey-ness that only came to a halt when my life drastically changed.

Earlier this week I wrote about my commitment to walk away from mindlessly reading “hater blogs” and other forms of entertainment that only exist to pick other people apart.

Yes, one big reason is because I think using another person’s downfall and trouble as entertainment is unkind, but another reason is because judging other people – and reading other peoples’ judgments of them — makes me feel bad about myself.

Here’s a made-up example, using the hater-blog scenario: Say I read a post that criticized a mother for dressing her kids in purple too much. It was easy to think, “Ha! They’re so right! Who would ever dress their kids in purple?”

But thirty seconds later I’d be reading a comment saying, “Yeah, and she’s always putting them in blue plaid, too!”

Now I’d feel uncomfortable, experiencing an instant knee-jerk inner dialogue that went something like this: “But my kids wear lots of blue plaid. What’s wrong with blue plaid? Should I leave a comment in support of blue plaid? Wait! Are other parents judging me for wearing blue plaid, too? What about green plaid? Or blue polka-dots? Am I wrong? Is blue plaid really abusive? Are my kids going to be scarred for life with all this blue plaid?”

Of course it’s ridiculous and illogical to second-guess your decisions based on an offhand comment or the opinion of a nasty, irrational critic. But that’s the thing about feeling judged: it’s not always logical, but it always feels bad.

It goes like this: the more you take part in judging, the more you see the world as a place where your actions, your ideas, your very deeply held beliefs, are likely to be judged.

Also, the more you judge, the more you are likely to hang around with excessively judge-y people, and guess what? They’re probably gonna judge you, too.

Or maybe they’ll make a rude comment about somebody else that hits a little too close to home for your comfort. You’ll feel defensive, and tempted to deflect that feeling with more judgement. And…well, it just keeps going. (Remember that vicious cycle I mentioned above?)

I know that some judgement is a normal part of being human. (Yes, I judge child abusers and dog molesters, too.) But it’s one thing to occasionally find yourself repulsed, shocked or disappointed by somebody’s behavior…and another thing to actively surround yourself in a culture of judgey-ness. (You can also hold strong opinions about issues without necessarily judging people.)

If you’re a parent who’s caught up in the vicious cycle of judging others, hoping it’ll make you feel a little better about yourself, believe me…I get it. But I’m here to tell you that you’re hurting yourself most of all.

When I say I don’t like to judge other moms, it’s partly for them. But just as much, it’s for me. I’m a much more confident mother when I don’t rely on a negative picture of other people’s choices to make mine seem better. I’m happier in general when I stay away from people who make judging a hobby.

No matter how confident you are in your own choices, it’s only normal for being around critics to start getting to you.

And no matter how sure you are that you’d never do X, Y, or Z, life has a funny way of making people eat their words.

And the judgey-est words always taste the worst going down.

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About Meagan Francis


Meagan Francis

Meagan Francis is a mom of five who loves everyday adventures and is in pursuit of a big life with her big family. Her love of family, food, home and travel fuel her writing here and on her blogs The Happiest Home and The Kitchen Hour.
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6 thoughts on “How judging other parents makes us feel bad about ourselves

  1. Julia says:

    I feel judged frequently as a mom who uses formula.

    Little do people know the battle I went through to try to breastfeed, the weeks I was hysterically crying about feeling incompetent, and the fear I had that I would, in fact be judged.

    I would like people to know, I am not lazy, selfish, or less caring of my son. I would like them to know that my son has bonded great with me and my husband, and because I made the choice to feed him formula, he is growing at the right rate.

    I would like people to know that I see your eyes roll when I break out my formula case, and I really refrain from snapping at you. I really do.

  2. Michelle W says:

    Thank you for the post, I know it isn’t easy to walk away from judgey-ness in our society (especially during election time). I think this applies to friendships, partnerships, actually all relationships as well. I know I sometimes say judge-y things without thinking about how they might affect my husband and his ability to parent. I have seen some other posts in support of husbands and other partners having their own way to do things. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, and recognizing our weaknesses and working on them is an amazing thing. Thank you for helping me realize that I need to be gentle with myself and my husband when rushing to conclusions (ie. Judging…, yeah still hard for me to say it) I appreciate the time to slow down and think about how judging affects my daily life. I see the cycle now, and I need to realize it is a problem to change it.

  3. Kelly says:

    I was my most judgmental before I had kids. :) Now it’s all changed. I’ve had a difficult time with my daughter and putting her in a crib after we unbundled her. So we ended up co-sleeping for awhile and now she’s got a mattress on the floor in her room. She’s 14 months old and still wakes up a few (sometimes 6!) times a night wanting me briefly and then going back to sleep. I’m not one to let her cry it out, so we’re just waiting for her sleep milestone to hit. But, boy do I get some comments, usually passive aggressive from family. Apparently it’s a habit, my second kid won’t be like this and I’m depriving her of good sleep (all with the then quick caveat that she’s super happy and doesn’t ever seem tired). Who knows what they’re thinking if that’s what they’re saying! I’ve felt really bad for all those times I judged my friend who ended up sound proofing her baby’s room bc he didn’t sleep well. (And yet I still think, well, I’d never go that far!) I’m working on it. Thanks for the post and reminder to keep trying to not be so judge-y.

  4. Akemi B. says:

    I was recently the topic of a closed (and now secret) group on Facebook called the Carseat Vent Group. The group exists to vent about incorrect car seat usage but it has gotten out of hand, with members lifting photos of children in car seats from their friend’s Facebook walls and from sites like Instagram. Then they hurl insults at the mother of the children shown in the photo. It makes them feel like better mothers to be so judgmental of out-of-context photos but does nothing to promote car seat safety. And it does little to unite mothers.

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  6. Good says:

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