Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Mom-Judging Olympics: A competition nobody meant to enter

The Mom-Judging Olympics: A competition nobody meant to enter

What do moms judge each other for?

Courtesy of Sara Keeler

Sara Keeler, with her sons Gabriel and Joseph, calls motherhood 'a competition nobody meant to enter.'

The real question is, what don’t we judge each other for?

Nearly 90 percent of us judge other moms, for everything from breast-feeding habits to bratty kids, our TODAY Moms/ survey of 26,000 moms found.

As one mom told us, motherhood is “a competition nobody meant to enter.”

Didn’t try to breast-feed? One in 5 moms will judge you for that. But if you breast-feed for “too long” – say, nursing a 3-year-old -- you get judged too, by 43 percent of moms.

Other ways to get mommy-judged: Have a bratty kid (66 percent of moms will judge you harshly); have an overweight child (37 percent); let your child have too much TV/video game screen time (32 percent); feed your kid junky food (34 percent).

In the Mom Judging Olympics, nobody wins.

Most moms try to shrug off the judgment, but it can really get to you. Lawna Hurl, mom of two daughters in Alberta, Canada, says she went back to work after six months in part because she couldn’t take the constant, unspoken competition.

“I didn’t like being around other moms ‘cause I often felt inferior,” she explained. “It saddens me that among moms there is so much judgment – no matter what you do it seems someone is judging.”

(Of course, now she might get judged for “working too much” – one in five says this is a mommy no-no.)

Parenting expert Wendy Mogel, author of “The Blessings of a Skinned Knee,” says part of what’s fueling the mom judge-a-thon is what psychologists call “displacement.” The world is a scary place, and we can’t control things like the economy free-falling. But we can control our choices as a parent – so we attach way too much significance to them.

Rachel Fishman Feddersen of and NBC News chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman talk about the lengths some moms will go to get a break from their children, some of which are surprisingly extreme.

“Mothers are judging themselves and judging others to make themselves feel a little better,” Mogel said. “We’re all trying to look good, and we want our kids to look good and impress others.”

Lacey Davis, a mom in West Virginia, says she hates to admit how judgmental she is. “When I go to other moms’ homes I do the quick once-over and pick apart things and almost go down this checklist I carry in my head. Dishes in sink, floors not swept, no sweeper lines in carpet,” she told “I HATE this about myself because I know if I am doing it, then so is everyone else that comes to MY house!”

But the harshest critic usually lies within. Sara Keeler, a mother of two boys in Gillette, Wyo., describes motherhood as “a competition nobody meant to enter.”

Courtesy of Lawna Hurl

Lawna Hurl's two daughters.

She plays along, sometimes – when company is coming, she’ll race through the house and shove all the clutter into closets, so people think she’s an OK housekeeper. The pressure to be the perfect mom feels heavy, she says.

“We all want to be the best at what we do,” Keeler says. “We conLinksciously and unconsciously compare ourselves, and our children, to every other mother and child we come in contact with.”

Brigette Dineen, a mom of two from the Cleveland, Ohio, area, bemoans the “Eye of Judgment” that seems to follow moms everywhere. She chalks up the pressure on moms today in part to information overload: We have so many resources, from prenatal yoga classes to umpteen child-rearing books to educational videos and BPA warnings, that we expect perfection from ourselves and our families.

“So why are our kids still sometimes brats?” she wonders. “Newsflash – they’re kids and that’s what they do.”

I will readily admit I am a judger. I try not to, but I am human. Therefore I judge.

I don't judge a mom for not breastfeeding or breastfeeding for "too long". I didn't try that hard with Dianna, and made it more than a year with Genevieve.

I do judge a little for bratty kids. I understand that kids will have behavior issues at various times in their lives and that you can only do so much before it borderlines abuse.

I do not judge co-sleepers, because I KNOW how much easier it makes getting sleep when you have a young child.

I do judge people with overweight kids, because I think that most of the time it goes hand in hand with feeding your kids junk food and not making sure they get enough exercise. Take into account my stepdaughter Hailyn. She is overweight. She is definitely a hefty girl. She prefers to eat junky food, and turns her nose up at alot of food that Mike and I fix her to eat. I truly worry that when she starts school very soon, that she will be made fun of for her size and her quirks. She is rather spoiled, and it kind of hurts me that we can only do so much about it at our house and then she goes home to something totally different. Sad thing is, she is pretty much the same size (shirt and shorts) as her almost 8 year old half-sister and she won't be 5 until Sunday.

I am constantly working on becoming a better person and parent, but as most people know, it is a very slow journey.

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