We live in a society of judgment. Each day whether we realize it or not, we put ourselves out there. Subject to scrutiny simply because we exist with all our wonderful uniqueness. Social media welcomes and encourages the opportunity to be put in the spotlight and the significance of being liked seems to consume the masses.
Mothers are no exception to judgment and the infallible truth is, the title of mother and all it represents can ignite controversy on all levels. Although we are all guilty of judging (it is pretty much human nature), the feelings mothers experience from being perused can be detrimental to both their spirit and their peace of mind, even more so when it’s perpetuated by other women.
Kathleen Gerson, a sociologist at New York University, believes that in reference to parenting styles, it appears that everyone is an expert, "Parenting is something most of us experience, and even if we don't experience it firsthand, we observe it. On the one hand, we all think we're experts at it. On the other hand, we're very uncertain about doing it.”
In essence, it’s a catalyst for conflict, disagreement and strong emotions on both sides.
Everyone is entitled to make their choices as parents and no choice is better or a guarantee your kids will turn out better, brighter, kinder or more engaged. The pinnacle of these expectations destroys the character of mothers and in turn the hearts of children. You don't have to be a mother to understand the challenges, you just need to remember what it was like to be a kid.
Mothers who make the conscious choice not to breastfeed are harshly criticized, creating a level of hostility that is truly objectionable. These mothers are often perceived as selfish, even neglectful, for not having chosen to utilize this intrinsic superpower of sorts, rejecting their biological functions.
Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen incurred the wrath of moms everywhere when she used her high profile status to bring attention to the controversial issue. She said that it should be required by law to breastfeed. (Harpers Bazaar) According to Cafe Mom, breastfeeding advocacy group La Leche League International responded by saying, “There are lots of choices out there for women, and we respect those choices.” This should be a natural consensus, especially amongst women, whether or not they are mothers themselves. Instead, society has labeled the choice not to breastfeed as egotistical.
The gravity of this controversy is felt worldwide. Research declaring that more than 800,000 lives of babies could be saved annually by breastfeeding sparked a fierce defense in France of the right to bottle-feed without guilt or shame. A group of high-profile French women asserted that moms are being treated like criminals, potential killers and above all bad mothers. The findings were published in The Lancet and co-authored by the World Health Organization’s Nigel Rollins.
The escalating insistence that breast is best is truly detrimental to the mind and spirit of women who are genuinely struggling to make the critical decision that is best for both mom and baby; for whatever reason. Mothers deserve to reclaim their right to not just bottle feed but to have control over their own bodies without guilt from anyone, themselves included.
The pacifier seems to pack quite a punch within our culture. The controversy surrounding the idea of soothing children with a "binky" is in essence, agitating. The use of pacifiers is an ancient practice, but often becomes a point of debate with both parents and professionals. Sure, soothers calm babies, but at what cost to moms?
There are a number of health benefits to pacifiers that are unknown to yet to be mothers. They provide the baby with comfort, reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, offer pain relief, and, in preterm infants, shorten hospital stays.
In truth, the great debate is not limited to data but rather an instinct: reason versus emotion. So many mothers could identify that one defining moment in which they introduced the pacifier to their child, that split second they caved in order to soothe their child and remarkably in turn, themselves. But the guilt that follows seems to overpower all logic for their choice.
The feeling that they were incapable of calming the baby on their own dominates their thought process from this date forward. Not necessarily because inherently it’s how mothers genuinely feel, but more so because of societal reactions to their choice. The looks of horror from those spectating your child’s binky like it’s a drug being pushed, especially in older children. The stigma of the pacifier has increasingly becomes a sign of immaturity, indifference and weakness, but really for whom?
Family dynamics intimately define whether or not a mother finds it acceptable to kiss their child on the lips. Parenting expert, Roma Khetarpal explains that one’s personal experience with public or outward displays of affection will ordinarily form the basis of this contentious opinion. Simply put, in some cultures it is prevalent, in others, it is not.
Hollywood celebrities have been vilified online for getting caught kissing their children on the lips. Kourtney Kardashian, David and Victoria Beckham, Hilary Duff, Olivia Wilde have all posted photos that sparked considerable debate among social media users. The tabloids have relished in the controversy by exploiting these precious moments and the implications are deplorable.
Khetarpal also says there are some things parents should keep in mind when it comes to a peck on the lips: is it age appropriate and do your children want it? There is a time when parents stop wiping their children’s bottom or giving them a shower. [Similarly] there is a time and age when children don’t want kisses on the lips, either, and parents have to respect that.” Her powerful message is all about boundaries.
Along with perimeters, choices should be respected. When exactly did it become ok to judge people, for not sharing similar values? It appears the only shame concerning this issue is that of intolerance regarding parenting choices.
Every mom has had a parenting moment when they couldn't keep their cool. However, when yelling induced by anger becomes a default reaction, it's serious. More so than you would dare to admit.
It is inevitable that as a mom you will become frustrated with your child, especially if you feel that they are misbehaving. But the way you express this frustration and deal with the situation can have major implications on their personal development and their long-term health. Anxiety, low self-esteem, and increased aggression are heightened concerns.
Being judged on this one is tough to swallow. Author and parent educator Laura Markham, Ph.D. explains that if anger and associated aggression like shouting is part of what a child perceives as “normal” in their family, their behavior will reflect that. Markham warns that the number one job of a parent, after assuring the safety of your children, is to manage your own emotions.
Although parents have good intentions, reality is quite another thing. With yelling being the new form of spanking, wrath-filled episodes weigh heavily on the conscience. Mothers need to accept they are only human. In the heat of a moment take a few breaths, step back and reflect whether the aggravation is worth yelling about. Then, forgive yourself. Parenting is a tough job.
The toys children play with have an impact on how they see themselves, on what skills they grasp and, ultimately, on how their brains physically develop. Influencing which toys children gravitate towards restricts what their imagination inherently craves to discover. As well, this practice suppresses the natural inclinations a child has.
Stereotypes on play, begin in the toy box. It’s difficult to believe that in the 21st-century gender labeling toys still dominates the market. What is even worse is the scrutiny that is inflicted upon mothers who allow their children to stray from the proverbial pink or blue toy boxes.
Views about gender are presented to children through the media and advertising. They are enforced by their peers or parents. The messages children receive from their environment regarding the toys they play with have a significant impact on them. Toys R Us in Sweden produced a catalog with a girl shown deftly working a Nerf gun and a small boy cradling a baby doll - a paramount move towards gender neutrality in its stores and eventually past its doors.
Child-free women and mothers exasperated by a young boy playing with a Barbie or a little girl smashing her Tonka truck, need to reassess who is inflicting the real damage upon these children.
Allowing kids to decide what they wear seems harmless enough. Yet, this tiny act can create so many unfavorable reactions from women without children, on the outside looking in.
Children reach an age where expressing their need for independence is at the forefront of their existence. Self-expression plays a starring role in this stage of cognitive development. It’s such a magical opportunity for kids to be bold, to feel brave and to simply become whomever they choose. It’s all about celebrating the creativity of a child, not a comment on the passivity of a mother.
The merit of a mother who allows their child to attend a special event wearing a Superman cape, a tutu and neon pink and yellow tights is questioned, often with mouths agape. The scrutiny is as marveling as some of the outfits being espied. Is this really something to get one's knickers in a knot over?
Tragically, those who impose judgment are truly unaware of the advantages a child gains from their new power to make choices. Not only is it a wondrous opportunity to spread their wings but it signifies the beginning of the exciting and vivid path to exploring their identity and experimenting with whom they will ultimately become.
Moms pride themselves on keeping track of the unlimited awe-inspiring moments of their children. The first time they smile. The first time they roll over. The first time they take a few steps. Regrettably, a woman who has yet to savor the first utterance of the word mommy will challenge the timing and very often the significance of these precious moments.
What these women neglect to realize is that deep down mothers are doing their own judging and it can be quite unnerving. It's pretty much second nature for a mom to question her competencies if her child seems slow to progress. Consequently, scrutiny when it comes to possibly having influenced ones child’s progression negatively is intolerable.
Each child’s visit with the pediatrician is an opportunity to identify potential developmental delays or red flags. With this alarming thought looming, it’s no surprise that some mothers may be prone to blame themselves for anything potentially negative experienced by their child. Mom needs to understand and fundamentally believe that if she was nurturing, loving, attentive and positive, she has done her best!
Finally, every child is different, each journey is unique and extraordinary. Milestone charts should be celebrated as an indication of a child’s personal best, without regard or assessment from anyone else.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed their babies for at least the first year of life, as long as they are able to do so. Considering babies need to eat every couple of hours, it should not be surprising nor frowned upon when it is done in public. Although breastfeeding is natural, the stigma surrounding it is not, nor should it be. Ironically, the only way that feeding your baby in public will be normalized is if it’s done habitually.
The lack of empowerment amongst women is disturbing, especially when they have become the main perpetrators in making public breastfeeding reprehensible.
According to feminist and political theorist, Marion Young, “Breasts are a scandal because they shatter the border between motherhood and sexuality.” The sexualization of the breast is so pervasive even women are offended by it. It’s simply biology, women were given the gift of milk to feed their babies. The shame is in a society who have made breasts synonymous with sex.
Celebrity moms are now using their platform to speak out. Mila Kunis, tells Vanity Fair, “Why did I do it in public? Because I had to feed my child. She’s hungry. I need to feed her whether it’s out of a bottle or out of my boob no matter where I was.” If only our culture could latch on to this mode of thinking.
The tabloids are relentless in highlighting high profile moms who have been persecuted for public breastfeeding. It’s not surprising that many of them have taken to Instagram to expose their precious, raw moments for the world to see. Is this enough to create a chain reaction of proud breastfeeding moms? It sure is a healthy start.
The number one topic in the universe of parenting is sleep. The issue of not only your baby’s sleep but your own. Just to put things in perspective, a mother’s decision whether or not to let the baby “cry-it-out” is undeniably influenced by the latter to some extent.
The controversial method is characterized by periods of letting a baby cry from a few minutes to more than an hour, without picking them up. Non-supporters consider letting a baby cry for any length of time, without tending to the child, to be cruel and unusual punishment.
Cited in the Globe and Mail, Douglas Teti professor of human development and psychology states, "Quite frankly, there aren't too many researchers that advocate that anymore. I don't want to diss sleep-training programs per se, but the way we construed emotional availability is that an emotionally available parent is not a parent who is going to abandon a child at night and let the child cry it out.”
His new research on infant sleep appears to deal a blow to those in the cry-it-out camp. He discovered that infants with parents who were responsive and warm had fewer night wakings and an easier time drifting off.
If that is not enough to appease scrutiny, then I can’t imagine what is.
In a world awash of screens, the debate over allowing children to use tablets and smartphones is an epic one. The impact of screen time on your child’s brain and sensory development will always be a concern. It’s so hard to feel like a good parent when it comes to your kid’s screen time. You’re constantly facing flack: either from your kid, or from other people, or from your own self-criticisms. A practical approach is needed to develop and moderate your child’s screen time habits in a way that’s healthy for them and the entire family.
Alexandra Samuel, a researcher on technology argues that although we live in a digital age, when people panic about exposing children to screens, what they're really worried about is "mothers … putting their own needs alongside, or even ahead of, their kids' needs.” It appears to be more about the expectations of women as mothers and not really about the screens.
With that being said, there is no evidence that using a tablet will harm your child’s physical or cognitive development - as long as its practiced in moderation. Research sponsored by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop found that certain apps may actually improve children’s vocabulary and math skills. There are a number of engaging yet educational apps that can give parents a bit of a break, especially from further judgment!
How often you hold your baby has been scientifically proven to affect their DNA. Cuddling literally changes babies on a genetic level. A Cambridge University study reveals that human contact transforms babies both behaviourally and developmentally; actually proven by molecular changes in babies.
These are life-changing findings for both mother and baby as modern parenting ideas and methods challenge this. Mothers today receive scrutiny for being overly affectionate with their babies and unnaturally repress their natural instincts to hold their baby for fear of spoiling them.
David Mrazek, M.D., chairman of psychiatry and psychology at the Mayo Clinic, reassures, "During the first six months, it's really impossible to spoil a child.” ”Meeting an infant's need to be comforted, held, and fed in a predictable fashion helps him feel secure and builds a loving relationship between parent and child. It does not lead to spoiling."
Tracy Cassels, PhD, suggests that on average, infants are being touched by another human only 12 to 20 percent of the time. If we want to safeguard children's mental and emotional health, mothers need to feel free to be affectionate with their children.
We are evolutionarily primed to crave contact. Experts say love and touch help babies grow and develop. Not so hard to believe when we consider that babies do not yet understand speech and the only means left for communication is touch.
For women who are not moms passing judgment on this very sensitive issue, perhaps you could use a hug?
As a mother, you can hear the sound of dread percolate amongst the chatter of diners and the hustle and bustle of restaurant chaos, as you enter with children in tow. The disappointing sighs and eye rolls should make you lose your appetite but rather you are hopeful that your endless display of manners and lessons on dining will reveal themselves. The judgment begins even before your family is seated.
The body language from women who have yet to walk in your shoes is oddly comical despite your frustration at such defiance. It actually appears as though they are the ones about to have a tantrum! Moms also have an aversion to crying babies, screaming toddlers and hurling food. Don't believe for a moment that rowdy children and icy stares make for a pleasant evening out for anyone.
Parents dine out for the same reasons as everyone else. Obviously, five-star restaurants and kids are not compatible, but thoughtful and wise parents would never enter such unadapted territory.
The wave of kid-unfriendly establishments has literally spread across the nation and for parents, it’s shocking! Banning children from restaurants to protect those with child-free lives is quite extreme but it’s becoming a mainstream solution to a loud issue. The situation is a catch 22. The expectation is for kids to behave exceptionally well when dining out but without the experience, they will never learn how.
The number of decisions mothers have to make in a lifetime concerning what is best for their child is mind numbing to say the least. Couple that with society spectating and scoring your performance, well that just intensifies the squeeze. Deciding on what to feed your child is high on the list of judgments, regarding the plight from jar to blender, which is best?
There is a plethora of information available today on the internet discussing homemade versus store-bought baby food. When choosing whether to make or buy baby food for your infant, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of both options for your family.
American babies consume an average of 600 jars of baby food by the time they are a year old. At the same time, the U.S. Government lists the vast majority of commercial baby food as “not creditable infant foods” on its WIC program (2011).
Homemade baby foods, when prepared properly, can have a nutritional and economical edge. Compared to equal amounts of home-prepared fruits and vegetables, commercial baby foods tend to have more sugar, more sodium, and less fiber, and they’re much more expensive.
Whether you decide to mix and match homemade and store-bought, or stick to one or the other, instilling healthy eating habits in your infant is the most important factor. That is certainly food for thought that everyone can agree on.
When it comes to vaccines, facts are not always enough. Despite the laws, despite the research, despite the professional opinions, the controversy over whether or not to immunize children is explosive. Furthermore, the struggle for disease specialists to convince parents that vaccines are safe is futile. It’s very much become an emotional decision, which in turn requires trust. The judgment of child-free women who are not faced with this life-changing decision is unsought.
With parents opting out of vaccinating their children, diseases we haven’t seen in years—measles, whooping cough and mumps have returned. The situation is grave. “Because we don’t frequently see these diseases anymore, we don’t perceive the risk of not getting vaccinated,” says Julie Bettinger, a vaccine safety scientist at BC Children’s Hospital.
Noni MacDonald, an infectious disease specialist at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, said, “Parents are out to do what’s best for their children, and they want to make the best decisions, but they don’t always get the best information.”
It’s understandable when parents express that they are not necessarily against vaccinating their kids, they are just unsure of the facts. This makes them less confident in their choices. Support is imperative to being comfortable with your choices regarding immunization. Will the hesitancy ever disappear? When it comes to deciding whether or not to vaccinate, the verdict is still out.
Your choice of parenting style has a profound effect on your child’s brain. It’s one of the most significant influences on a child’s future well being. Amy Bohnert, a psychologist who researches child development at Loyola University states, ”There are a lot of different ways to raise kids, and there's not one formula that works for every kid.”
All parenting styles have differing effects on how children develop psychologically. Authoritarian parenting is often characterized by strict rules and harsh punishments. In this environment, children are more likely to have low self-esteem and less self-management when they reach adulthood.
Permissive parenting on the other hand, is a type of parenting style characterized by low demands with high responsiveness; parents tend to be very loving, yet provide few guidelines and rules. Due to few rules, expectations, and demands, children raised by permissive parents tend to struggle with self-regulation and self-control.
What does all this come down to? Balancing authority and enforcement with warmth and affection is a style that has shown to be most beneficial to a child’s development - but ultimately, that’s up to the parent to judge. Even parents with multiple kids could have to change their parenting style to accommodate different personalities.
Super strict sleep schedules represent the valor of mothers who have fought the overtired sleep battle and have the scars to prove it. They have learned first hand the repercussions of making an exception to the bedtime rule, even once.
"An early bedtime benefits a child's physical health, as well as mood and mental health because it allows time for restorative sleep, which is important for the repair and recovery of the brain and the body," said Reut Gruber, a researcher at McGill University in Canada.
Dr. Sumit Bhargava, of Stanford University School, explains, ”We sleep to conserve energy so we can be functional during the day.” Restorative sleep theories might explain why, according to the Harvard Medical School, "restorative theory suggests we sleep to 'restore' something that we lose while awake, with the body repairing and rejuvenating itself.”
For child-free women, it’s easier to dismiss the concept of a strict sleep cycle because for one, freedom is priceless. So, restricting activities in your life to accommodate a child’s sleep, merits ridicule. On that level, there is nothing comical about sleep-deprived and, thus, inattentive, impatient, hyperactive, or aggressive children.
Mothers benefit too! Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a Seattle-based pediatrician explains,“When we think about mom, it makes a lot of sense to me that if kids are early to bed, mom is going to wind down, get things done and feel like things are under control.” It’s a win, win situation for everyone.
Harmful beliefs and messages about women’s bodies are deeply ingrained in our culture. There is an immense pressure on mothers to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy weight almost immediately after giving birth. According to Sherry Ross, MD, ob-gyn, “There’s no set timetable for losing postpartum weight, and the fact is that the more weight you gain during pregnancy, the longer it will take to lose.”
It seems that no one is exempt from postpartum judgment. Anne Hathaway got honest about her post mom body, sharing her powerful message on Instagram. “There is no shame in gaining weight during pregnancy (or ever). There is no shame if it takes longer than you think it will to lose the weight (if you want to lose it at all). There is no shame in finally breaking down and making your own jean shorts because last summer's are just too dang short for this summer's thighs. Bodies change. Bodies grow. Bodies shrink. It's all love (don't let anyone tell you otherwise) Peace xx."
It would be great if regular moms could gain inspiration from other women, as well as from moms who have the platform to be heard. Hathaway, exposes her reality with both confidence and light-hearted humor, exposing to the world that everyone should revel in their own unique, raw beauty and truth.
Opinions vary widely about the physical and psychological factors of the practice of co-sleeping. Susan Stewart, a professor of sociology at Iowa State University, discovered that 50 percent of the parents she studied were keeping their co-sleeping habits a secret from friends, family, and even their child’s pediatrician.
She found that co-sleeping parents were hiding sleeping habits primarily to avoid judgment. But depending on the circumstances – particularly, the child's age – Stewart contends that parents don't have to be ashamed of co-sleeping. It's just not a good idea to do so with infants. It isn't inherently wrong or shameful. As long as people are aware of the safety guidelines and do their research, they should be well-equipped to make informed choices about their own families.
Similar to the issue of expressing affection towards your children, culture plays a significant role. Outside of America, co-sleeping is perceived as the most natural thing in the world. They say it promotes breastfeeding and the bonding necessary for raising a healthy child. In a study of 186 non-industrial cultures, anthropologist John Whiting also found that 67 percent of children slept in the company of others.
Whether or not you chose to share your bed with your children is an intimate choice requiring a great deal of thought. It's certainly a decision you may want to sleep on.
Mothers strive to do their best to raise polite, well-mannered children. It’s not easy to admit that a child’s every action is anything but a direct result of something we've said, done or taught. Manners are no exception.
Jeff Rich, Social Worker and author of Parenting: The Long Journey explains that developmentally, unit the age of six or so, children aren’t going to “get” the concept of being polite. Teaching your child simple manners early provides the groundwork for them to learn more complex ones later. “By starting early, you establish a sense of value and importance,” says Roslyn Mendelson, a Calgary psychologist. Also, “As children get older, their ability to distinguish and comply with demands becomes more sophisticated.”
Etiquette guru Emily Post once said, "Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” Socially, children who are not taught manners will have a distinct disadvantage in life. The power of manners extend into a number of aspects throughout a child life and continues through to their adult years. They are a lifetime skill.
There will always be judgment when it comes to minding one’s p’s and q’s and not just from child-free women. Perhaps in this instance, when someone reminds your child to say please, you may want to reply with a courteous thank-you!
According to Motherly, in 1958, the first known use of the word “parenting” occurred. It remained an uncommon word until some time in the 1980s when “parenting” gained momentum as a verb and became something parents do instead of something they are.
That’s pretty much when things became complicated. Parenting went from being something completely natural to something that required a great deal of thought and planning, to say the least. Mothers began asking themselves what kind of experiences would be best for their child in order for them to reach their greatest potential and develop into emotionally and mentally strong adults.
According to Sherry Campbell,PhD, parenting requires finding the balance between loving your children, disciplining them and allowing them the necessary confusion and suffering essential for their self-discovery. (Sherry Campbell, PhD) Does this leave mothers on a permanent quest for harmony?
There is no one single manual which gets you through the wonderful journey, the extraordinary adventure, unscathed. There are methods and micro methods all being used simultaneously, leaving mothers inevitably confused. The roller coaster of emotions, the trials, and tribulations, the victories, the defeats, the celebrations, and the love are all a part of it. If I may offer some unsolicited advice, really, it’s ok. Just go ahead and trust your instincts. I’m not judging.