You Shouldn’t Feel Judged By Someone Else’s Parenting Decisions

Happy mothersParenting is hard. As someone who excelled in school on the multiple-choice standardized test model, I struggle a lot with the fact that there is no one correct answer or easy solution to a lot of parenting choices. It’s pretty likely that I parent very differently even from my close friends, my relatives, and even my lovely co-workers. But here’s the thing: the parenting choices I make for my family are just that–choices for my family. The ways I manage my kids are not a judgment on the ways you manage yours.

I don’t know what it is that makes people feel as if one person’s navigation of the treacherous Peaks of Parenthood is someone a moral statement on their own choices as a mom or dad. Most likely the way the ‘mommy wars‘ are waged in the media plays some role in the phenomenon. Women are constantly set up to be comparing and competing with one another, so no wonder it’s so easy to look at what someone else is doing and think they’re parenting AT you instead of merely parenting.

I promise if you ask me how my kids got on a sleep schedule and I mention that they were sleep trained, I am not criticizing your baby-led routine. I am just well aware of the fact that I would lose my actual mind if I did not get a regularly-scheduled break during the day, at least most of the time. And if you ask me what my kids are eating and I say “Brussels sprouts”, I’m not hating on your chicken nuggets. (Chicken nuggets are delicious, why would I hate them and all their fried chicken-y goodness?) I just really, really like Brussels sprouts, and because I am selfish, my kids are going to have to eat what I like until they are capable of safely operating the stove (and preferably the dishwasher) on their own. You don’t have to explain your choices to me. And you definitely don’t need to defend them! You do you, my friend, you do you.

Sure, some things aren’t negotiable. Get your kids vaccinated, put them in a car seat safely, and if you let them have a hobby such as, say, juggling rabid ferrets, then my kids probably aren’t going to be allowed to play at your house. But for the most part–who cares? We’re all just trying to survive.

If you feel like you have to compete or defend yourself to other women for your choices just because theirs are different from yours … don’t. The only way to win this competition is not to play. The Choose Your Own Adventure called parenting is entirely up to you, and the pages I decide to jump to don’t have to be the same as the ones you do! How boring would that be, anyway? Besides, we’re all going to end up at the same ending anyway: the one where our kids grow up to be happy, health, decent human beings.

(Image: Olga Sapegina / Getty)

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