When it comes to mothering, it's a tough enough job without
worrying about what others are thinking about how you're doing it.
Yet motherhood often involves unspoken competition and unkind
judgment from those who should be the most understanding-other
Here are four moms' takes on the competitive and judgmental
environment among mothers.
By Megan Murray Elsener
Why do you think mothers judge other
I think mothers judge each other to help justify the ways in
which they are mothering. There isn't a how-to parenting book. I
constantly walk around wondering if I am feeding them the best
foods, washing their clothes in the least toxic detergent, keeping
to a nap schedule, and the list goes on and on. After having my
third child, I surrendered to my situation and had no choice but to
become more confident in "my" chosen mothering skills and not worry
about what others are thinking.
Have you been criticized by other moms or found yourself
We had major sleep issues with our first child and I was
exhausted and venting to a friend. Instead of just listening, she
instead told me I may not be cut out for motherhood and should
maybe go back to work. Not what a tired and frustrated mom needed.
Five years later that comment still stings.
How do you try to stop the competition among
It is a real time-waster, to be honest. Becoming a mom has been
one of the most challenging things I've ever done and I have found
it important to surround myself with other similar-minded moms who
support one another. What we need to tell each other more is that
we are doing a great job.
Unfortunately, some mothers feel the need to make more of
something than they need to, whether it's breast milk or formula,
cloth or disposable diapers, or working or staying-at-home. There
are many situations that are seen as competitions, when the fact of
the matter is everyone is working incredibly hard to do what is
best for their families. Raising a family is a complex matter; it's
not a race.
In my day-to-day running around, I definitely feel judged by
other mothers. Whether it's checking out my diaper bag or stroller
or how much baby weight I've lost, I can sense the judgments being
made about me. Over the years, I've learned to feel comfortable in
my own skin, so I'm not terribly bothered by judging looks and
Unfortunately, competition amongst mothers is a reality. We make
choices for our children every day and mothers will always compete
about which choices they deem better than others. I think we can
all be better about choosing what to do with the judgments we make.
Do we say something to someone that could be hurtful? Worse yet, do
we gossip about our judgments to other mothers? Or do we bite our
tongues and remind ourselves that our perspective is not
necessarily the "right" or only perspective? As usual, it would
serve us well to listen to the advice our parents gave us long ago,
"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!"
I think mothers judge each other because of personal
insecurities, jealousy, ignorance or because they feel
I try my best not to judge because I know parenting is not an
easy task and you never really know what is going on in someone
else's life. With that being said, I know I am guilty of being
judgmental at times. I find that I can be judgmental about parents
who are very opinionated and vocal about their parenting style and
think that everyone should follow their lead. Sometimes I feel like
saying something, but then I remind myself that everyone is on
their own parenting journey and respect that we have differences in
our approach to raising kids.
I wish it didn't exist! I think it stems from everyone wanting
to be the best mom they can be, which is not a bad thing. But when
being judgmental invades this territory, it becomes much messier
and hurtful. We should all remember that every child is unique, as
is the experience of parenting them.
Almost all mothers want the best for their children and because
of that there can be an unspoken, or sometimes spoken, jealousy and
judging of other mothers. I think women often judge other mothers
to help them feel better about themselves or their situations.
It is natural to sometimes look at other mothers or parents and
think, "That's not how I would do it." I did more of that type of
judging before I was a mom. Now I realize how difficult being a
parent can be, and how there are circumstances you can't always
control, and things you don't know about as an outsider. Before I
was a mom, I never thought I would be a parent of a child who had a
tantrum in a store or restaurant, but just recently I was in a shoe
store where two of my three children were having screaming
tantrums. All of the other parents in the store were staring at me,
some with a few eye rolls, as I picked up my screaming kids from
the floor and walked out of the store. I was embarrassed and I felt
judged. I have vowed to never again roll my eyes or make a comment
when someone else's child is throwing a tantrum. Instead I plan to
share a sympathetic and understanding look because I know what it
feels like to be that parent.
I really would like to see mothers be more supportive of each
other. Motherhood shouldn't be a competition; it should be a bond