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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

It’s hard to ignore the competition and unkind judgment from other moms.

Why do you think mothers judge othermothers?

I think mothers judge each other to help justify the ways inwhich they are mothering. There isn’t a how-to parenting book. Iconstantly walk around wondering if I am feeding them the bestfoods, washing their clothes in the least toxic detergent, keepingto a nap schedule, and the list goes on and on. After having mythird child, I surrendered to my situation and had no choice but tobecome more confident in “my” chosen mothering skills and not worryabout what others are thinking.

Have you been criticized by other moms or found yourselfjudging others?

We had major sleep issues with our first child and I wasexhausted and venting to a friend. Instead of just listening, sheinstead told me I may not be cut out for motherhood and shouldmaybe 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 amongmothers?

It is a real time-waster, to be honest. Becoming a mom has beenone of the most challenging things I’ve ever done and I have foundit important to surround myself with other similar-minded moms whosupport one another. What we need to tell each other more is thatwe are doing a great job.

Rae Ann Mattson, Naperville, mom of 3


Why do you think mothers judge othermothers?

Unfortunately, some mothers feel the need to make more ofsomething than they need to, whether it’s breast milk or formula,cloth or disposable diapers, or working or staying-at-home. Thereare many situations that are seen as competitions, when the fact ofthe matter is everyone is working incredibly hard to do what isbest for their families. Raising a family is a complex matter; it’snot a race.

Have you been criticized by other moms or found yourselfjudging others?

In my day-to-day running around, I definitely feel judged byother mothers. Whether it’s checking out my diaper bag or strolleror how much baby weight I’ve lost, I can sense the judgments beingmade about me. Over the years, I’ve learned to feel comfortable inmy own skin, so I’m not terribly bothered by judging looks andsnide comments.

How do you try to stop the competition amongmothers?

Unfortunately, competition amongst mothers is a reality. We makechoices for our children every day and mothers will always competeabout which choices they deem better than others. I think we canall be better about choosing what to do with the judgments we make.Do we say something to someone that could be hurtful? Worse yet, dowe gossip about our judgments to other mothers? Or do we bite ourtongues and remind ourselves that our perspective is notnecessarily the “right” or only perspective? As usual, it wouldserve 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!”

Tracy Yu Stronsky, Chicago, mother of 2


Why do you think mothers judge othermothers?

I think mothers judge each other because of personalinsecurities, jealousy, ignorance or because they feelthreatened.

Have you been criticized by other moms or found yourselfjudging others?

I try my best not to judge because I know parenting is not aneasy task and you never really know what is going on in someoneelse’s life. With that being said, I know I am guilty of beingjudgmental at times. I find that I can be judgmental about parentswho are very opinionated and vocal about their parenting style andthink that everyone should follow their lead. Sometimes I feel likesaying something, but then I remind myself that everyone is ontheir own parenting journey and respect that we have differences inour approach to raising kids.

How do you try to stop the competition amongmothers?

I wish it didn’t exist! I think it stems from everyone wantingto be the best mom they can be, which is not a bad thing. But whenbeing judgmental invades this territory, it becomes much messierand hurtful. We should all remember that every child is unique, asis the experience of parenting them.

Nicole Nichols, Oak Park, mother of 2


Why do you think mothers judge othermothers?

Almost all mothers want the best for their children and becauseof that there can be an unspoken, or sometimes spoken, jealousy andjudging of other mothers. I think women often judge other mothersto help them feel better about themselves or their situations.

Have you been criticized by other moms or found yourselfjudging others?

It is natural to sometimes look at other mothers or parents andthink, “That’s not how I would do it.” I did more of that type ofjudging before I was a mom. Now I realize how difficult being aparent can be, and how there are circumstances you can’t alwayscontrol, and things you don’t know about as an outsider. Before Iwas a mom, I never thought I would be a parent of a child who had atantrum in a store or restaurant, but just recently I was in a shoestore where two of my three children were having screamingtantrums. 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 fromthe floor and walked out of the store. I was embarrassed and I feltjudged. I have vowed to never again roll my eyes or make a commentwhen someone else’s child is throwing a tantrum. Instead I plan toshare a sympathetic and understanding look because I know what itfeels like to be that parent.

How do you try to stop the competition amongmothers?

I really would like to see mothers be more supportive of eachother. Motherhood shouldn’t be a competition; it should be a bondamong women.

Anne Maselli, Park Ridge, mother of 3


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