We say it all the time, and we hear it all the time: “Don’t judge other moms. Everyone is doing the best that they can.” Yes, they are, but it’s also human nature to make judgments. We form opinions and make decisions about big things and small things every day, so why wouldn’t we do it about other moms?
I say, it’s ok to judge, just don’t be a jerk about it.
A “judgment” is “a decision or opinion that is based on careful thought.” Those last four words are the key to avoid being a jerk. Thinking about the choices another parent has made and deciding if you would do the same thing in the same situation is fine. It’s part of how we grow as mothers. It helps us hone our personal parenting style and mentally prepare for how we might handle a similar situation. It’s an extension of the self-judging that we all do.
On the other hand, superficial, hypocritical and self-righteous judgments are a waste of everyone’s time. Although, admittedly, these kinds of judgments make for a wealth of blog topics, which is great for me.
So, I admit it. I am judging you, but I try to follow exactly two steps to avoid being a jerk.
- Empathize before I judge. Insert here one of myriad cliches: People in glass houses… walk a mile in their shoes… pot calling the kettle…. book by its cover. However you phrase it, I try to avoid making snap judgments about another mom before considering the circumstances of her situation. If I agree with her course of action, I file it away for future reference. If I don’t, then we move to step two.
- Keep almost all of my judgments to myself. I say “almost all” because sometimes judgments are great! They’re called compliments, and there is nothing better than hearing a genuine one from another mom. Also, sometimes, another mom asks me for advice or an opinion, and then it’s ok to share what I think. Other than that, if I don’t have anything nice to say, then, you know, I don’t say it.
That’s it. That’s really all it takes. Do I do this all of the time? Of course not. I’m a mom, not Mother Teresa. I try my best, and when I can’t hold in a judge-y comment, I reserve it for a few trusted ears in an effort to minimize my jerkiness. My husband draws the short straw a lot, my mom’s a sure bet, and so is my BFF.
Now that you know I’m judging you, I invite you to judge me, too, and all of the other moms you meet.
Once we accept that we are judging each other, we can work on judging better, with more thought and consideration for the other person and with an eye towards our own self improvement. Because it’s ok to judge other people, just don’t be a jerk about it.