Has there ever been a time where you were judged, critized, and basically blamed for every tiny infraction as a mother? Is it not enough we judge ourselves and live in perpetual self-doubt? But what happens when other people – whether they know you or not – shake their heads when they feel you are not doing something right in their heads? It’s not easy being a parent, but being a mother carries far more weight than a father would.
Most people might agree that motherhood begins when the baby in your womb starts growing. The connection is almost instant for most women and after you feel that little kick in your stomach, your entire world aligns with the stars. Which is why when others start judging and critizing how moms should raise their own children, you realize that you live in a world of blame first; accept after.
I come from a family that is pretty accepting of me. While my own parents might have pushed me to go beyond my limits as they had with my siblings – the after effects of being Asian and living the stereotype – they were still able to let me be who I wanted to be, albeit some fighting and tears throughout the years. When I got pregnant with my son, after a miscarriage and more self-doubt, I heard practically every advice thrown at me. Most of them from other moms, but mostly enough where I really doubted whether being a mother was really worth it. Now, after many years of growing pains for both my son and I, I shudder to think how I could have ever doubted myself in the beginning. It hasn’t always been an easy and smooth road, but being a mother and parent will never be a dull job.
As I watch my son grow from a toddler to a preschooler to a pre-teen, I often reflect on why I listened so intently to other people’s advice. That old adage of not judging others lest you be judged yourself can come in handy whenever someone else criticizes how you should parent your own child. Goodness forbid they criticize your child in front of you! And as I parent my child through the joys and turmoils of our lives, I’ve come to appreciate my own mom even more. They say eventually you’ll become your own parent. While that may be a blessing for those who had GREAT parents, others might not see it as a benefit.
So what should we do when others deem it their personal responsibility to judge you for your motherhood? Etiquette leaders might tell you to just smile politely and accept their criticism. The more involuntary reaction might be to instantly oppose that judgment – and you have every right to since you are the parent – not the other person. But if these criticisms are done in front of your own children then you might need to take a step back and think how your answer will affect your child. They will see and hear your reaction and quite possibly learn from it and imitate the behavior later on.
During these uncertain times with the global pandemic, the intense climate fluctuations, police brutality brought to light, and ongoing injustices, being a parent is even harder than before. And now, with most states doing online distance learning, most parents have no other choice than to stay at home and monitor their children while learning through Zoom. And even moreso when you have children in similar age ranges, the chaotic lessons and keeping track of all their teachers can leave all of us wishing school wasn’t so hard. Essentially, we are attending school with our kids, making sure they are paying attention and doing their homework. But, it is a huge learning curve and the best we can do is adjust and grow.
Throughout the years I’ve learned as a mom, an educator, and a friend with kids close to my child’s age, that you’re going to undoubtedly get judged for who you are. Not everyone will accept you or your child. Not everyone will like what your children wears, how they talk, how they act, how they play, how they breathe. But I say to those who judge critically to please leave my child be. He might be odd at times, he might be angry, or he might be shy. But he is quintessentially my child and he will surely grow through all the awkardness and the self judgement as he gets older.
So, I’ll leave you with some tips I’ve learned throughout the years to combat “mom guilt”. We all feel guilty at times, but don’t let that guilt stem from someone else who judged you for packing only chips and cookies into your child’s lunch bag. We all falter here and there, and as long as we are doing the best for our children, who are others to judge? The most important thing is to show our children that as a mom, we can overcome the injustices that will surely rise in their own years.
Trust your heart. Look inside yourself and see how you are raising your child. If they are inevitably joyful and peaceful, then you’re doing great.
Trust your own instincts. I’ve learned to be in-tuned with my mind and soul at a very young age. And later on, when I needed it the most, my instincts have brought me out of a lot of scrapes and bruises.
Trust professionals. If you ever have doubts or just not sure of parenting tips, find professionals who have had years of training and clinical experience. Or search online for parenting advice sites. Finding unbiased advice can help you through your difficult decisions.
Listen to your children. You are their parent. You don’t have to listen to your family, relatives, friends, or even strangers on the street for advice. So often we forget to listen to what our own children need and want.
Tune out. Yes, you probably tell your own children to never tune you out. But that’s quite different from someone who is judging you or your child for something that they dislike for themselves.
Use words to prevent mom guilt. Remind yourself that you held that baby inside your stomach for 9 months. And you have been raising your child for all these years using your own talents and skills.
And most importantly – everyone is different. The sooner we all realize that, the sooner we can all be more accepting. *If anyone ever criticizes your child or you, say this very line to them.
*Photo credits to Parents magazine and RedTricycle.com
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