background img


posted by:

When I take my kids to the playground, there are always other children running around. I don’t know much about them, other than one should tie his laces and another has her shirt on inside out and appears to be mad for purple popsicles.

I don’t know if he was breastfed or bottlefed.

I don’t know if her mom used cloth diapers.

The parents and caregivers of the children are usually scattered. Some sit on benches and watch from a distance. Others are more hands-on. Some downright hover. Others yak on cell phones. I can observe them and pass judgments based on how attuned to their children they appear. I notice what kind of car they parked in the nearby lot or if they walked from the direction of the beige subdivision. I have no idea where they work or why they work or why they don’t work.

I know nothing about any of them.

I can remember how I fed my children or why I chose to do it that way. I know my kids survived and thrived with googly-eyed monsters on their diapers, which I gladly threw away. It’s foolish to project my biases and experiences onto strangers, but I do. Your story is one I don’t know, unless you chose to tell me. But beware. We moms have the tendency to think our way is the best. We are armed with statistics, anecdotes, and articles from the right publications which we fire like bullets.

We miss, and miss again. Moms on playgrounds, websites, produce departments, and toy aisles are such poor shots.

It’s hard to aim when you’re on a high horse.

Do you have parenting biases you are willing to admit?

You may also like
  • comment avatar Steph at Adventures In Babywearing November 6, 2007

    I have a hard time getting past Moms that leave their babies in the car seat when awake and never take them out to hold them, and still am getting past women that choose to formula feed without giving breastfeeding a good, hard try.


  • comment avatar Gretchen November 6, 2007

    Thanks for your honesty, Steph.

    My eyebrows shoot up when I see a kid with a bottle who is clearly over the age of two. I don’t feel the same way about extended breastfeeding, though.

  • comment avatar Kari November 6, 2007

    Conversely, I have struggled with moms who judge mothers who don’t breastfeed!

  • comment avatar Tracy (tjly) November 6, 2007

    I’m with Kari. I try not to make judgements, but the moms who think it is their business whether other mother’s breastfeed or not really steam me up. I know a mother who breastfed her three children for a full year each. But she leaves them all the time with sitters, doesn’t take them to church and is not raising them to believe in God, and doesn’t discipline them at all so that they are total brats. So she’s a better mother than a bottle feeding devoted Christian mother?

  • comment avatar Veronica Mitchell November 6, 2007

    I think my biggest bias is toward moms who teach their daughters to be too girly. My girls love frilly dresses and glitter like most little girls, but they are active too. Children are supposed to have fun and be messy and run and get scraped up, not sit still and look like a picture and turn their noses up at the rough-and-tumble girls.

  • comment avatar Janet November 6, 2007

    My problem is moms who are judgemental. I don’t usually take my kids to the park due to time constraints at home. Plus, living on a 20 acre ranch, I can send my two toddlers and teenager outside to play while I am finishing up the house or making dinner. My kids are always within earshot and I am not worried. Not worried that some mother is going to tell me my children are not raised right. I raise my kids with values, love, discipline, and more love. Why can’t moms be happy for other moms? Give help and guidance when needed? And laugh along with the funny antics of children?

  • comment avatar Shayne November 6, 2007

    Ok, I’ll admit it. I have a bias against moms who choose nannies over day care. I am an attorney in a big law firm. When my first child was born, everyone just assumed that we would hire a nanny. We put them in day care instead, and I believe I’m the only attorney-parent in my office who has made that choice.

    I’m not sure what drives my bias in this instance. My kids are both in school now, but I used to get offended when people found out I had young children and then assumed we had a nanny.

  • comment avatar Stacie November 6, 2007

    I let my kids run wild and get dirty. That’s what kids, especially little boys are SUPPOSED to do. I hate the looks that I get from other parents when we pack up to go home and they are FILTHY from head to toe…but smiling from ear to ear. Like I am irresponsible for allowing my kids to make mud patties or play in the sandbox or go down the slide head first and end up with a mouthful of dirt 😉 But I think that I have the most well behaved, well adjusted kids…much better than the kids that look longingly at the dirt knowing they will get in trouble if they even think about getting close to it.

  • comment avatar Abby November 6, 2007

    I agree with Tracy and Kari. There just might be a good reason why Mom’s choose not to breastfeed. I breastfed my first 2 children but due to having postpartum depression I had to get on medication 6 weeks after giving birth to my third. Thus having to bottle feed.

    Why be judgemental of others anyway? You chose how to best raise your children and that should be good enough.

  • comment avatar Goslyn November 6, 2007

    I surprise myself with my “mommy biases” which pop up all the time. For example, I am quick to judge bottle-feeding mothers, although I immediately say to myself, “Whaaa? Whoa there little miss lactivist!”

    I am also quick to judge mothers whose daughters are attired in clothing that I consider trashy. But I’m sure many a mom has looked at my sons in their handed-down hand-me-downs and sighed her own judgmental sigh.

  • comment avatar Joanne November 6, 2007

    Great post, sadly we all do it. It is unfortunate that we can’t step outside of our biases to just support and encourage one another. We have no idea what might be going on in that mom’s life.

    But, I am like everyone else. I had a neighbor whose daughter always had her shoes on the wrong feet. I commented once and the mother proudly exclaimed that her daughter puts her own shoes on. My little bias is against moms who are so desperate to get their kids independant that they don’t care if they wear their shoes on the wrong feet every day, day after day. I can’t help but wonder what these little independants will be like when they are older. Will they be so independant that they won’t even bother coming home to visit their parents? Won’t they be proud then that they are that independant?

  • comment avatar Nichole November 6, 2007

    The next time you consider passing judgement on another mother, consider the following:

    Puts things in perspective, yes?

  • comment avatar randi November 7, 2007

    The longer I am a mom, the more my prejudices fall away, simply because I am struck by the reality of how hard this can all be and how much I don’t know. At the end of this period of my life I think I will just feel grateful for the fun we had and making it through!

  • comment avatar Gretchen November 7, 2007

    The child with broken ribs in the closet won’t be saved until someone judges the situation as abhorrent.

    “Judge” is not a bad word. The superior smug attitude that sometimes comes with judgment is what we should try to avoid.

    There are issues which are black and white, like child abuse. If not for people stepping in a saying “this is wrong” it would go on and on and on. I wonder how many tragedies go unnoticed because people tell themselves “it’s none of my business” or “I shouldn’t judge that mom or dad.”

    This post was meant to get moms (and dads) to reflect on the areas in their lives when they have a knee-jerk reaction to other’s parenting styles or philosophies.

  • comment avatar Shannon November 7, 2007

    Just about my only playground pet peeve is random parents whom I don’t know at all, picking my child to “help” him get on certain equipment. What are these parents thinking?

  • comment avatar Britney Spears November 7, 2007

    I know y’all – I’m so sick of the tabloids getting on my case whenever I leave Sean Preston and Jayden James in the car while I run into Starbucks for an ice latte. I mean, c’mon y’all…

  • comment avatar Gretchen November 7, 2007

    Brit-Brit: I think it’s okay to leave your babies in the car, as long as you bring them their own lattes. Ask for double vanilla syrup for extra health benefits. Cause vanilla is a bean. Your court-appointed parenting coach will be really impressed that you are giving your boys beans. You are practically Jessica Seinfeld.

  • comment avatar Crunchy Domestic Goddess November 9, 2007

    excellent post.

    i admit to having a hard time with parents who don’t trust their instincts and instead let a doctor or friend or family member dictate what is “best” for their child.


  • comment avatar Amy November 12, 2007

    I do judge other parents, but that judgment almost always leads to a judging of my own parenting. For example, many moms I know let their kids watch what I consider to be a lot of TV (2 or more hours a day). My first reaction is — that is wrong. But then I think about it and all the TV I watched growing up and wonder why I’ve suddenly decided 30 minutes is the maximum for my young kids. So for me judgments of other people on what I consider to be these pretty unimportant issues, usually comes back to questioning myself.
    I really don’t care whether a woman breastfeeds or bottle feeding. I wish no one did.