Sleep training, or not.
Screen time, or not.
Time out, or time in.
Bed sharing, or separate rooms.
Diets – Vegan, meat before 9 months, refined sugar free, or the occasional sweetie.
The same situations judged in so many different ways, by so many different people.
I have also been in the shoes of the judger and the judge and I believe most parents judge other parents. It isn’t necessarily malicious or even conscious, yet it has become such a regular coping mechanism that we are mostly unaware of.
The most common reason we judge is to make ourselves feel better. To lessen our “mum-guilt” and assuage our ego – the ego is not causing the offender to assume they are morally superior, but inferior. When the ego senses that their parenting may be inferior to someone else’s it feels the need to defend itself and attack others.
Dr. Shefali Tsabari discusses that these moments of judgement isolate us from our ego fortress, when all any of us want is to be acknowledged and understood, to be valued, to know that there are others on the struggle bus with us.
One of the items on the aforementioned list is bed sharing. I judged another mum for bed sharing with her child, why would they do that if they could just let them cry it out? I did that with mine and it worked. I secretly felt shame for listening to his cries and not picking him up, that inferiority led me to judge another; to feel some form of superiority.
Suffice it to say a year later at the start of the pandemic, pregnancy nausea and fatigue kicking in, I was asleep with my child in bed, feeling his little hands on my face in pure bliss.
The first step to removing ourselves from this circle of unnecessary judgment is to be aware of these thoughts and to ask ourselves why are we thinking that. What do we feel we are lacking?
Shifting that inner critical voice into an affirmative voice comes next – I am enough for myself and my child/ren.
When my son was having a moment with his big feelings at the playground and I couldn’t handle it, rather than judging me and my son – a mother kindly bent down to his eye level and verbalized it for him, and verbalized my own feelings as well. I instantly felt my tears draw back and I was able to bend down myself and hold my son until he calmed down.
Next time I see a parent struggling, I will practice giving; offering to lend a hand or a kind smile, just like that kind mother at the playground did with me; rather than a judgmental look.
We are all in this together.
After all mama, you are enough.
Get to know more about Loulua and her work as a confidence coach at Louluazawawi.com.