Where's the LOVE? Moms come clean on judgment and competition among mothers

 
 

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 mothers.

Here are four moms' takes on the competitive and judgmental environment among mothers.

By Megan Murray Elsener

 

 
 

Rae Ann Mattson, Naperville, mom of 3

Why do you think mothers judge other mothers?

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 judging others?

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 mothers?

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.

 

 
 

Tracy Yu Stronsky, Chicago, mother of 2

Why do you think mothers judge other mothers?

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.

Have you been criticized by other moms or found yourself judging others?

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 snide comments.

How do you try to stop the competition among mothers?

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!"

 

 
 

Nicole Nichols, Oak Park, mother of 2

Why do you think mothers judge other mothers?

I think mothers judge each other because of personal insecurities, jealousy, ignorance or because they feel threatened.

Have you been criticized by other moms or found yourself judging others?

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.

How do you try to stop the competition among mothers?

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.

 

 
 

Anne Maselli, Park Ridge, mother of 3

Why do you think mothers judge other mothers?

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.

Have you been criticized by other moms or found yourself judging others?

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.

How do you try to stop the competition among mothers?

I really would like to see mothers be more supportive of each other. Motherhood shouldn't be a competition; it should be a bond among women.

 

 
 
 







 
 
 
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