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» FEELIN' RANTY from CityMama
Tertia has covering some heavy topics on her blog lately. I do the Bloglines run-down every morning with my coffee like you do, and I am so delighted when I see a bunch of bold numbers in parentheses. Tertia never [Read More]

» I really should take a title-making course from Resolving Timeline Issues
I have a secret. I'm addicted to infertility/pregnancy blogs. Absolutely addicted. I am always very impressed with how strong women can be and what they can endure. That being said, Tertiawrote this post on spanking/punishment for children.... [Read More]

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Amen sister.

Wow, Tertia, I'm sorry people feel entitled to criticize your childrearing practices. You work so hard to be consistently courteous and respectful to others, even when their views differ from yours. It's too bad that not everyone can follow your example.

When I started blogging I almost took the screen name "notamom" because all of the women I blog with and read are moms and I am not. I try to be very senstitive to parental issues when I state an opinion - which I don't do very often other than to be supportive.

I am SHOCKED by how vicious some moms are. I wonder how woman who are so close-minded and judgemental can be decent parents. What kind of bigotry are they teaching their childer? I think the CIO/AP divide is uglier than any political debates. Same thing with BF or not. This opinion I am comfortable expressing.

Sorry to go on so long.

from what i have experienced, it seems mothers are so critical because:

1) they assume that what worked for their family would work for every family

2) they are so self conscious/insecure that if they draw attention to someone else's actions then people won't focus on their own.

before i had children i always had brilliant fail safe ideas on what parents should be doing. and then sebbie sebbie so so was born and the mile in the moccasins commenced. these days i don't say what they should be doing, but i will offer if asked what worked for our family.

having said that, i hope the chips you're giving your children are from mcdonalds because the chips compliment the nuggets very nicely.

oh and in regards to yesterday's post about working mothers vs single mothers...from the other side of the coin, i can very easily get intimidated by a working mother. i feel that they have it all, a job, a classy wardrobe, a USE for those highheels, and all i am is a sloppy mum. just as comments like, "i decided my kids were worth it" is hurtful, so are comments like, "i couldn't stay home, i needed to use my brain" and, "i have to be more than just a mum." and i think these comments are made out of self defense. and i am sure you will agree with me that not all SAHM make the hurtful comments, just like the number of (paid) working mothers made depricating comments about SAHM's.

rock on, rock hard.

I just wish you could see me standing up and clapping for you!

YOU are their mother, YOU know them best, YOU know how you want them raised. It's amazing to me that while most will admit there is no "right or wrong" in parenting, people are SO critical of others who don't parent exactly as they do/did.

Keep up the great job Tertia. You are a wonderful mother, and -quite seriously- I question if those snot ass, judgmental freaks are not just jealous that you have figured out how to be Tertia AND Mom... instead of a mother named Tertia.

love you T. i've written about this before too (http://cath.iblogs.com/2006/01/30/child-psychologists-be-damned-again/ and http://cath.iblogs.com/2006/01/18/alert-the-child-psychologists/. fuck em all darling. you're the perfect mother for your gorgeous babies. as long as theyre happy, healthy and loved, who the fuck cares if theyre still drinking from bottles or watching tv. fuck that.

you're doing the best job on the planet. well done. now go drink wine.

I hear ya, sweetie. And fwiw you're doing a great job.

I vacillate between, "This is fine, we're coping, I don't care what anyone else thinks," and "Oh my GOD she glared at me! She did! She must be innately hating [whatever I just did] and ready to call Children's Services! She's such a judgemental bitch, it wasn't THAT bad... but, oh, no, I shouldn't've done it, really, oh, shit, I'm a terrible mother, I'll call Children's Services myself..."

And the person in question probably looked my way because she thought she recognised me from school. Or because she saw a sign about an item being on special behind me and she was interested.

Some parents are wonderfully supportive and nice, but some just make you feel SO judged and bad. And I'm sure I've done it to other people (unintentionally) too. Sometimes I don't give a rats no matter what anyone says, but sometimes I'm very selfconscious and defensive.

MOTHERHOOD IS WONDERFUL, BUT ALSO FUCKING HARD.

I think that encapsulates everything I want to say. ::g::

me again to clarify that the numbers of (paid) working mothers and SAHM's that make those hurtful statements are the minority. but theirs are the comments that we remember, because they fuel our own insecurities.

tertia, you know you are doing a great job. don't let the judgemental attitudes get to you.

solidarity among women is a near impossible task...not just among mothers. some women have affairs with other women's husbands. we're very flawed.

but we're also very wonderful, and there are many people out here who see the pictures of your children's laughing faces, hear of the great time you are having with them, sympathise with the decisions you're having to make..do i? don't i? should they? ... and we're the majority percentage that should say more often...YOU"RE DOING GREAT! which should drown out the percentage that claim, "youre not doing what i did, so you must be wrong!"

buckets of xoxox

There is no greater tool we have as mothers than our instinct. I applaud you for standing up for yours.

it all comes from putting yourself out there.
if people didn't know you gave the bottle/spank/telly, they'd have nothing to say -
but you are open and honest and it is your charm.
stand firm.

here it comes....

I agree with the previous posts that children are different, & what works for one child may not work for another... but I do think that we should be able to offer and receive criticism of our parenting techniques. By criticism I do not mean nasty, negative, personal attacks! But I think it's important that we consider alternatives to what we "feel is best"... doesn't mean we have to change our views or feel bad about ourselves. I mostly feel good about my parenting, and I would feel a bit of a sting if someone criticized something I do... but I'm open to the idea that I could do better.

But if you're going to comment about someone else's beliefs or practices then be polite and sympathetic! Don't go stalking them out of playgrounds, accusing them of being cruel, or anything like that.

I completly agree that mothering is not, and should not be, a spectator sport.

However, I'm a member of an online mother's group (www.essentialbaby.com.au) and some of the behaviour that goes on in there would make your toes curl.

The fact is, not every mother is a good mother. And your "good enough" mothering is probably of such a high standard that another mother's "good enough" mothering is probably verging on dangerous/abusive by comparison.

Tertia - you are an excellent mother. I've been reading your blog since you started and it's obvious you are. But some mothers are not, for many reasons - sometimes, they just don't know that what they are doing is wrong - possibly because their own parent's parenting was so sub-standard.

I see behaviour on EB that is truly repugnant - such as giving phenergan to 8 week old babies without doctor's advice to "make her sleep". In such circumstaces, I'm going to excersize my right of reply and say that that really is abusive behaviour. And life-threatening behaviour.

I'm not sure if you have looked at many parenting sites - but truly, the standard of parenting of some people is so dire that I really have to say something. I generally bite my tongue, but in the phenergan case I must admit to be really quite incensed.

OMG yes, T. When my daughter was ONE I had people asking why she wasn't drinking out of a regular cup, why she wouldn't sit on the mat at playgroup and eat her snack instead of wandering around, why she was so attached to me and didn't like to go to others. And each time the accusation was there - it was because I'd done something wrong. Now she's at kindy (she's 4) and can't use scissors. I am asked why I haven't worked on her scissor skills. WTF? I rocked my daughter to sleep until she was 18 months old - and copped shit about it. Then I did some controlled crying - and copped shit from different people. She had a dummy until 4 - oh the evilness of it, I was a v v bad mum for that one.

Anyway, I used to pay attention, and try to do everything on everyone else's schedule. Now I work to my kids' schedules, and mine. I do what works for us.

As for why people criticise, well I have 2 theories.

1. Parents are insecure about how they are doing things, so if they vehemently promote THEIR way as the best, other people will start thinking it is the best way, and they'll feel better about themselves.

2. As a SAHM, I can tell you it's hard to give up "the other life". The only thing you have to talk about is parenting. So some people act like a parenting expert because it makes them feel that they are really good at something, that they are doing something worthwhile. OF course they are bloody well doing something worthwhile. But one mum's way isn't the only way. I don't know how many friends of mine have said they are going to write a book about parenting because they couldn't find anything out there that fitted their child. Absolutely, no book will exactly fit a particular child, because we do have to "write" our own parenting manual based on the individual child, the individual parent, and circumstances. But sister, no-one else really wants to read your book on the perfect way to raise children - so leave the publishers alone.

As Lindsey said, it's all about instinct.

Oh, and my kids watch TV. Sometimes not much. Some days lots. And my kids are just fine thanks!

Lucy and Rob,

Hadn't thought of it that way. I've been a member of a few parenting boards and you're right, sometimes people are doing dire things to their kids. Like CIO at a few weeks old and risking dehydration, leaving babies alone in the bath so they can get a few jobs done...or worse, going out at night and leaving kids alone. So sometimes a polite suggestion may be in order.

I haven't yet become a mother (still 3 months to go until the twins are born) but I have been watching - with interest- the debates that rage whenever parenting decisions are raised.

I firmly believe that as in all walks of life we are subject to criticism for the things we say and do, however there is never an excuse for intolerance, rudeness or for that matter harsh judgements.

Lucy - I applaud you for raising the point about those parents who truly do their children harm but is dealing with that problem not a problem for professionals? In the case of someone abusing their child, could the children be more in danger if other people anger the parents?

Perhaps it is that we live in a world where hysteria is never far away. Where a decision made by one person cannot be seen as just a difference in opinion but should rather be seen as harmful to that child.

It worries me that I am bringing children into a world where tension is so rife and where they (and their parents) will be subjected to all kinds of hysteria from such young ages.

A bit of a rant, but my opinion none-the-less.

Rock on Tertia hun!

Alley - Excellent point. And yes, it would be much, much better if it were left to professionals.

But these women admit to doing these things on the net, not to their doctors (here's another - one member wanted to know if it was OK that she left her 6 month old in the bath by herself while she had a shower...). So other mothers hear about it, not the professionals.

Please note - I'm really not talking about 'lifestyle' choices such as when you swap from bottle to cup or cloth versus disposables ect ect. I'm talking about negligent, life-threatening behaviour.

Wow someone must have really given you a hard time about it. I am aware that there are all these 'opinions' out there but still just decide what I want for my babe. I do listen to some if it is backed by research but otherwise don't. I suppose there are some fanatics out there trying to be the perfect mum. I also still give my babe a bottle - he's 13 mths, it makes him go to sleep and I like that aspect - he aint going to go to sleep drinking from a sippy cüp!

I bet it was a bit different, say, 50 years ago when 'one hated to be rude'. And yet, you read things from back then and it's clear women have been dealing with the opinions of other women forever. 'Mother in Law' isn't a cliche for nothing.

Maybe it's like that saying, "it takes a village to blah-blah-blah.' At one time, it mattered to the whole community that you raised your kids a certain way. The community was at stake, economically, spiritually. It was more about common survival. Only now, the village is the whole Internet and comments are made freely by annonymous people who don't actually have a stake in your children's successful rearing or your wellbeing. Yet, the opinions flow freely.

It's our nature, I guess. Feeling like our opinions matter to someone out there. Even if we're up our own arses most of the time.

all the sippy cup stuff is each to her own, but isn't there room to debate about spanking?
it seems to me that it's in the interests of all children if that debate stays alive.
i'm not saying it should be outlawed but i do think a debate surrounding it keeps drawing and redrawing the line in a way that helps children and all of us.
i don't think it should be personal, but i'm sure there are instances when people take out their own frustration on their children and they need to be reminded that spanking shouldn't serve this purpose. (i hesitate to bring this up because obviously you do it for safety purposes which seems legitimate to me, but some people don't have a level of control with it.)

I struggle with not being judgemental. I feel very passionate about certain aspects of motherhood, but I know how hurtful and wrong it is to judge other mothers. My oldest child has ADHD, and I am just exhausted all the time. I let her (and by default her 2.5-year-old brother) watch way more TV than I should, because it's the only down time I have, and it's the quickest and most surefire way to help her relax and rest her body for a little while.

My mother was very judgemental. She always thought that her way was the right way and every other way was stupid or immoral. It can be very damaging to kids to grow up with a mother that is this rigid. You never learn that it is ok to make mistakes and learn from them, and if you ever find yourself in a bad situation, it is your fault for not doing things right. I don't want to be that kind of person or have my kids raised in that kind of atmosphere.

I really like this post. I don't understand why mothers are so judgemental of other mothers, but I don't like it either. We do the best we can with what we have to work with, but it never seems to be good enough.

Since you bared your deep dark mothering secrets, I'll bare mine right along with you. My son will be 3 next month, and still has his binky. He watches TV, quite a bit actually. He still sleeps in a crib. I have spanked him before. He does get candy and junk food occasionally, although I do try very hard to get him to eat the good stuff.

I'm sure there is more that I have done to totally screw him up, but its early and my coffee hasn't sunk in yet. I for one think you are doing a great job Tertia. Your kids are gorgeous, divine and happy.

"...to do with seeking to validate their own choices?"

I think you hit the nail on the head here. I think parenting is such a personal and passionate part of people's lives they need to know that their choices are the absolute best choices. Some people can only validate themselves by assuming other people's choices are INvalid.

I have to admit, I do this myself. I would NEVER say anything to anyone but I might see my kid doing something better than another kid his age and privately feel smug (like I had a damn thing to do about it) or see some other child doing something less desirable that my child isn't doing and pretending it isn't the grace of God but some superior parenting skill that I have preventing it. Again, I have to say, I know better than to dare assume I know what is best for someone else's child but I would say I am guilty of quietly judging.

Which brings me to a topic that I hope doesn't draw fire. I am a obstetric nurse and as time goes by, "they" are trying to basically phase out bottle feeding altogther - currently, the push is to not allow advertising of any kind for formula, advocating breastfeeding. Of course I advocate breastfeeding but I also don't look down upon bottle feeding as a choice. My point is, that from day one, MINUTE one, new moms are paraded past pro-breastfeeding collages on the way to her room, have lactation consultants and nurses trying to convince her to try breastfeeding and no signs of formula anywhere. This is all fine for a mom who is planning to bf or perhaps even still undecided but I feel makes a woman who, for whatever reason she chose, decided to bottle feed, feel excluded, judged, not good enough. From minute one of motherhood. It doesn't seem fair to me.

I do not intend to start a breast vs bottle debate, only point out that every choice feels scrutinized from the very beginning of motherhood and sometimes we internalize harmless comments and sometimes it all feels like part of a bigger plan to bully moms into one parenting style or another.

Bravo and Amen!

I apologize for being sucked into a debate here, but the last post bothered me. IMO, it is a hospital's reponsibility to promote healthy choices, which includes breastfeeding, *when possible*. I think of this as being similar to promoting exercise. I don't exercise much, and I am overweight, and I do feel guilty when I see exercise promotion and information on the risks of being overweight, but I agree that proper education needs to be done. (No, I am not saying formula is equivalent to being sedentary and overweight, it is just an analogy!) So I know that mothers who are not breastfeeding may feel bad at seeing lots of breastfeeding promotion, but hospitals should not make health care decisions based on what is going to make people feel good.

My disclaimer is that I am a lactation consultant in private practice, but I have worked in a hospital. We *never* "tried to convince" mothers to breastfeed, we just provided a resource for mothers who desired help. I don't know about your hospital, but in my hospital, and in most, formula companies have contracts and do tons of marketing and promotion to a captive audience. In what other area of health care are corporations allowed to come in and push their product on patients at their bedsides? I don't have a problem with mothers making an informed choice to use formula, but I do have a major problem with the aggressiveness of the marketing, especially when mothers have just given birth and are learning to care for their babies.

When there is clear research on the benefits of a certain choice in a person's health, such as breastfeeding or exercise, that choice should be promoted by health care facilities, because that is the responsible thing to do.

Em - i don't want to get off on a bf vs bottle tangent here either - but i think the push to eliminate formula advertising and the free samples at hospitals comes from a place of wanting more babies to be bf and no one makes a profit off that. As opposed to the formula companies - who do make money when people choose their product over bf. I don't think they advertise their product and give away samples in an effort to make moms feel less judged.

I do believe there is no "right" way to raise a child, just a "right" way for each family.

I have one thought/explanation/defense about why some women feel the need to comment if they witness a spanking. If I see a spanking at the grocery store, say, it raises a red flag for me. I can't help but wonder if the child would have gotten worse - physical abuse - if the incident hadn't taken place in public. Is it a swat on the bum or a sign of something worse at home? Either way, it's painful for me to watch, particularly when I don't know what led to the spanking (and admittedly usually I don't). I suspect and hope that mothers who spank (not meaning to label as Mothers Who Spank) don't enjoy spanking their children, and should understand that others would not enjoy witnessing it. We all feel a tremendous responsibility to safeguard children, and witnessing a spanking makes us wonder if we are supposed to intervene. The mother knows there's no abuse, but how am I supposed to know? Maybe if I can't know, I shouldn't say anything, but I do not enjoy being put in the awkward position.

I agree with both anon and beaver girl. I have just had so many moms ask me if its "ok" if they don't bf, are they "allowed" to give formula. So many who are afraid to tell us that it just isn't for them or who admit feeling coerced into breastfeeding. It bothers me that these moms feel bullied (independant of breast vs bottle. It could easily apply to medicated vs non medicated births a few years ago) which is how I applied it to Tertia's post.

Again, I don't mean to offend or start a debate and I respect and agree with the points that you both made as well.

I caught myself being judgemental this morning - one of the little boys in my son's daycare class isn't allowed to have unscheduled snacks of any type. His mother feeds him yogurt for breakfast, he gets the same amount of food the rest of them do while he's at daycare, but his mother also restricts how much he can eat at home. I've heard her making comments about how she doesn't want a "fat baby" before. It hurts my heart to see him crying because the other kids are eating in the morning (I give Bryan his breakfast at daycare), and he isn't allowed to have any.

He's not underweight, and I know that she loves him and cares for him as best she can. It's just such a departure from the way that I raise my little guy - any time he wants a snack, he gets one. I hate the thought of the other little boy being hungry (he snatches the other kids' breakfasts in the morning if they leave them ungarded long enough), but it is HER choice. My way isn't necessarily the best way.

Amen, sister. People got up in arms on my blog because I stated that I spanked my daughter. 28 comments when I usually get 7. And I wasn't even asking anyone what they thought... also, my daughter gets more than the occassional (sp?) lollipop. Hey, she's only a kid once.

I like your mothering style.

Great Post.

Just delurking to say that this is a great post. I'm also constantly amazed by the vehemence with which people try to run other people's lives. In the States, we seem to have decided somewhere along the line that constant, harping vigilance will make up for decades of missing the signs of child abuse in our neighbors' kids, handing over our children wholly to the whims of profit-making corporations, and systematically whittling away the resources we put into public education. It seems like the reasoning is that if we atone for the sins of the past with hypervigilance - the same kind of hypervigilance we turn on our own weight, careers, and health - then nothing bad will ever happen.

That seems to be at the crux of the issue, to me; in US society, at least, we've decided that nothing bad *should* ever happen. My own feeling is that if nothing bad ever happens - and "bad" runs the gamut from being put into bed when we're so tired we can't stand, but we'd rather not be there; to life-threatening illness - then we wind up with an entire generation of kids who are entitled to a life free of any kind of suffering, of any kind of pain. For my part, I'd rather my daughter know that things don't always go your way and that we're all pretty much making it up as we go along.

The thing that's really given me confidence as a mother, actually, is to follow my own mother's example. Where I disagree with her, I do things my own way; but she's raised three healthy (physically/emotionally) kids, taken an active role in the lives of her 6 grandchildren, and I just figure that there's some wisdom there that I probably won't find among the militant moms.

(Sorry that was so long - it's been on my mind lately, too!)

I was thinking that maybe we judge other mothers because secretly we often feel like doing the very thing we are judging. For example, I often feel like I would just love to whack my kids on the butts, but I don't do it. So maybe when I see someone else doing it, I subconsciously feel like "hey, why does she get to do that when I have to show all this restraint?" Very immature, but human.

Or maybe we remember being vulnerable kids ourselves, and wish our own mothers did a better job, so by judging other mothers we feel we are protecting kids from the poor upbringing we got. It is very interesting...none of us wants to be judged, yet it is so hard not to judge others.

My husband sometimes helps me to find friends since I work with all older women and don't really have a knack for meeting people. He introduced me to a wife of a friend of his who believed it was her business to get involed with other people's children. Our "friendship" ended when I related a story that actually happened:

While at Wal-Mart, I went to the bathroom and left my 2 month old with my husband. He started to cry (my son, not my husband) so hubby walked around with him and tried to soothe him. At the time we didn't realize that he was allergic to lactose, but we did know he occassionally had crying fits. Hubby was waiting for me to get back so I could figure out what was wrong. He tried holding him in different positions and pacing, etc. A woman came along who had a 3 or 4 year old sitting in the cart reaching out and pulling books off the shelves and screaming for her mother. The woman walked over to my husband and said, "He's probably too warm and doesn't like to be held that close." Then she stood there waiting for my husband to do something (what, hold the baby farther away?). Hubby said, "Maybe you should take 1/10th of that attention and put it to controlling your own child." Personally, I give hubby kudos. And honestly, unless we are talking about straight up ABUSE, we as mothers need to respect other mothers.

Oh, and also, at first I got grief because I let my son sleep on his tummy since he refused to sleep on his back. Turns out even the doc supports me because he has mild reflux that causes him to occassionaly projectile vomit. I've watched him start to throw up on his back and he begins to choke. So no, even the "rules" aren't for everyone.

I had c-sections, bottle-fed and let my kids watch t.v. To some, that makes me a less than perfect mom. My best defense - my kids - happy, well-adjusted and well-mannered. All this mommy bashing drives me wild!!!!

I once had someone say to me "why feed your kids bronze when you can give them liquid gold?" My response, "Why be rude when you can be nice?"

I read you every day, and I am amazed greatly by comments left both negative and positive. I really think that most feel like anything can be said online. Things you would never say in public, let alone aloud. I enjoy reading and commenting on blogs but if I don't have anything constructive to say, I just don't comment. And the hurtful remarks are why I don't blog myself, I don't need other people to question the choices that I make for my child. Ever.

Not surprisingly, the judgements we have as mothers carry over to our kids at a really early age. My kids go to a wonderful, crunchy-granola school that preaches tolerance and diversity. The reality, though, is that in 3rd grade the vegetarian kids are taunting the non-veg kids, and if someone brings a cookie or candy in their lunch it's treated like a crime against humanity. Kindergarteners are preaching to each other about the evils of TV. The parents are the most judgemental, closed-minded lot I've ever come across.

I have one amendment to my comment, people who actually watch me parent in real life, on a regular and daily basis THEY can maybe question my choices. A little.

I think mothers put so much thought into the decisions they make for their children that it boggles them how anyone could possibly reach a different conclusion. It would seem rational to assume that anyone who reaches a different conclusion doesn't care as much, is ill informed, etc. However, reality is much more complicated, and all is not black and white. I try to keep that live-and-let-live approach in mind when I talk to other moms, because there's no one right answer for all of us.

I agree with the commenters who stated that mothers are judgmental about other mothers because they are insecure about their own mothering habits/ability. It is so hard to deal with mommy drive-bys -- my daughter refused to take a sippy cup with milk in it until she was past 2 ... I am a working mom and have been subject to similar comments that Tertia has gotten. And then there was that woman at the grocery store who saw my baby crying and said, "can't you pick her up?" (we were at the check out line, I knew she was hungry & was going to feed her in the car, she'd just started crying, I'd gotten about 4 hours sleep and had been crying all morning convinced that I couldn't handle mothering a baby ... and I snapped at the woman and told her I didn't appreciate such comments) I think people assume that what they see is how you always are.
Question though -- I totally understand how things that I have said to SAHM may have pressed their buttons (as a previsous commenter said)(although I don't know if the SAHM know that they have pressed my buttons) -- but what should I say? I work not only because I have to (money wise) but also because I will go crazy at home and need contact with adults and need to use my brain. what should I say in order to be careful of other's feelings? Just an issue that I have thought of alot recently

lori - sorry that sahm's have pressed your buttons but you just implied i don't use my brain, didn't you?

Couldn't you just say "I work because I need to (or want to)" without going into reasons that might be insulting? Does anyone really ask you why? No one asks me why I don't work, so I don't have to give reasons that might be insulting to moms who work outside the home.

I have felt judged by other mothers. But I have to say that in my playgroup (which is also an email list) mums are consistently very respectful of each other's choices. I'm sure some muttering goes on privately, but I think mums can be supportive and often are. It may be more that the asshole comments stay with us longer.

BeaverGirl-

I am not even a mom yet, but when I talk to 'friends' about trying to conceive after I get married in August the usual first question I get asked is "will you be a SAHM?". When i say that I will work outside of the home, I DO get asked "why?".

My reply is short and sweet- just as you suggested I reply that I will work because I need to, and also I want to. Granted, if I could work 3/5 instead of full time I would do that, but I do want to work.

From the SAHM 'friends' only one has accepted that at face value. The others have then stated one of the following:

- You don't NEED to- you could make it work to SAH if you really wanted to.

- Oh- well I guess if you NEED to, but it is so much better for children for the moms not to work outside of the home.

- Well, I love my child so much that I could not bear to think about abandoning him at daycare, but if that is what you want to do... (yes- that is verbatim)

Now, my one SAHM friend who didn't question my future decision- golden. Love her even more that she didn't try to make me feel guilty.

I agree- there is no need to ask why? Congratulate them on whatever choice they made as being the right one for their situation and move on.

Sorry to hijack, just had to reply that SAHM's and WOHM's do ask Why?

Well said, Tertia!

By the way, I have absolutely no qualms about kids watching TV - mine do it, too, and yes, I EVEN USE IT AS A BABYSITTER! It entertains them and I get dinner done. So sue me.

However, I will still stand my ground on Teletubbies. Please, for the love of all things child-like, say it ain't so! Shock! Horror! Tinkie-Winkie???? Dipsy???? AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!

*running from the computer pulling out hair*

LOLOLOLOL

beaver girl -- sorry that you took what I said the wrong way - or that I wasn't clear when I quickly typed my comment in - I certainly know that SAHM "use their brains", etc. (My 2 best friends are SAHM). It's things that I have said or thought that I realized were insulting after thinking or saying them. I am sorry that you felt insulted.
I am asked all the time why I work and do not stay at home. And then when a SAHM says, "I felt like my children were worth it" I feel like I have to justify not staying at home. I
also, I have received the same answers as Jen again to my statement that I need/want to work. why do I need to justify it? I certainly don't want to tell random persons that we simply could not live on my husband's salary.

I don't want to hijack Tertia's blog for something personal, but also beaver girl I don't usually ask why mothers stay at home. It's obvious -- they made the personal/family choice that they wanted to stay at home and felt that it was best for their family. But I am asked to justify why I work.

First of all, long time reader, first comment. I adore the way you raise your kids from what I read here. You seem to have a good balance, and you seem to do things in the way that fits your family wonderfully. I really respect that.

Second, thank you for your post, Tertia. I really needed to read this today! I've been fried for many things mentioned above (bottlefeeding, working away from home, etc.), often by complete strangers. What would they have me do? Let my son starve because I didn't produce enough milk for him no matter what I tried? Should I let my family go without food just so that I can stay home full time?

We haven't gotten to the spanking thing yet (my son is only 6 months old) and honestly I don't know what we'll do. I grew up where spanking was a daily thing, specifically for one of my brothers. I was hardly ever spanked, but I was a highly compliant child. My brother was spanked if he blinked the wrong way. I don't believe they ever crossed the line into abuse, however, I think they spanked for things that didn't deserve that type of punishment. My husband was only ever spanked if his action was dangerous (running into the street type thing) or if he lied. We're leaning to that type of thing I think. I suppose we'll figure it out when we get to that place.

You're so right - and you know it!

Oh - and my kids drank from a bottle til they were both almost 3. They watch a lot of tv and my dd is a straight A student in gifted classes (4th grad). My ds starts school in the fall - and he may be screwed! LOL But damnit he's happy.

I'm impressed that the commenters here, on this post, have remained so civil, even when disagreeing or pointing out the problems in a specific phrase or word choice. I've been thinking recently about how the Internet enables one parent to criticize another, often in entirely uncivil language, with complete anonymity. I am saddened when I hear parent bloggers speaking to each other in ways that most of us would never want our children to speak, about the way we are raising our kids. And it makes me wonder what, precisely, inspires this kind of vitriol.

Tertia, I agree with you that parents judge one another not because we have any genuine concerns about how other people are raising their children but as a measure of our own success. The anonymity of the Internet adds another layer to this; it is so much easier to tell someone what they ought to do when you don't have to look them in the face. I like that the commenters here have outed themselves as pacy users and TV watchers--I think if we had more of these kinds of conversations, about how we are all trying to find what works for us, and are occasionally doing the things we SWORE we would never do, then we would all be better parents.

Thank GOD I'm not the only one who still gives their kid a bottle. (He's a few weeks younger than A & K.)

Brody watches TV- Sesame Street in the morning is the only way I can get a shower. He usually watches one or two (or three or four on a bad day...) Baby Einstein videos as well. He usually drinks JUICE during that time too. Evil, evil me.

My feeling is that people who criticize others parenting practices are insecure about their own choices. If you're comfortable and confident in *your* decisions, you won't feel the need to attack *mine*.

Great post.

Hmm...interesting subject...sure did spur a lot of response...none of which I have read as yet. But the points you raised caused me to ponder things. And I am wondering if, in a sort of converse way, mothers used to be LESS judgmental and more supportive (and it is my contention that they WERE) back two generations ago, BECAUSE they all did mother everyone's children, not just their own.
You see, I am an "older" mom...I didn't adopt my child until I was 46! SOOO...I guess I am one generation older than probably most of you.
And I remember that in our neighborhood, growing up, ALL the moms "mothered" you. You were just as likely to get hollered at or hugged by Kathy's mom as by your own. All the parents looked out for each others kids, and we KNEW it. We KNEW we couldn't get away with much, because SOMEWHERE, a mother was watching us!
Now, I don't know if it made for better kids....but I sure would never have tried some of the things my nieces and nephews try today! It just would never have crossed my mind.

Just a thought from the mom of a nine year old, who just HAPPENS to be one of the best kids on the planet...and that is pretty much EVERYONE'S opinion who has ever met her, not just mine! :)

I think, in the end, you are right...each needs to mother their child in their own way, and not worry about the rest. I really DO think that we know our child best...truthfully, when our pediatrician was horrified that my daughter slept with me at age 3 (regularly, as in EVERY night), I just smiled, agreed that learning to sleep alone was a HUGE step in independence, and went on allowing her to sleep with me until she felt comfortable...at about age 3 and a half. Hey, if that was the only thing she needed extra assurance in, then so be it! But maybe that was easier for me, DUE to my age. I think that mothering is one of the toughest jobs out there. And sometimes more life experience can be a help...but believe me, at the end of the day, we old folks are TIRED!!!! :)

Hang in there...your babes are happy and healthy, and loved. And that's what it's all about, in the end!

I'm not even going to go into a tangent on how I feel about all this, but I've been lurking for a while, and I think you're a great mom.

My son is 29 months and the tv is always on in the background. He doesn't vegetate to watch it (unless, of course, Finding Nemo is on), he just runs around and plays. If something catches his attention, he'll stop, stand stock still in the middle of the floor, watch for a minute, and then go back to what he was doing. And you know what? I think it's great. You just have to keep an eye on what they're watching, and how much they're watching. But there's so much educational programming now, I don't see the harm. I mean, honestly, what's the harm in my son knowing innocent words I haven't thought to teach him yet, because he hears Dora's little cousin Diego, or the Backyardigans, say it?

I hate the other moms are so critical. It was one of my big fears in becoming a mom, after seeing my sister's parenting skills questioned and criticized. Not that people would treat me that way, but that I would be the critical. I think I'm pretty good about it though. I find myself saying a lot, "This is what worked for me, but every family's different, so you might have to try lots of ideas before you find the one that works for you."

I don't know how I found your site, but I am so glad. I am so freaking with you. I have wondered about this for weeks now, and actually since my girls were born. In fact I wrote about a variation of this on my site this week. And just so you know, my kid is almost 21 months and still is in love with her bubbie (Pacifier); mine watch TV some too; I didn't breastfeed; I buy their clothes at GAP; and I own a bugaboo stroller. Your not alone, mothers can be worse than anybody else when it comes to judgements.

My kids watch baby videos ALOT. I didn't BF (had twins - impossible as a single parent!), I have already spanked and swatted at my 14 month old twins, I am a SAHM AND i send them to daycare!!!!!!!!, and it goes on and on and on....
AND... i happen to be the world's BEST/WORST mother in the world!
Next to Tertia, that is!
;)
If our kids are clean, fed, healthy, happy and well-adjusted who the fuck cares how we get there?????????
Not me!!!!

Well said, Tertia! Well done!

There are so many kids that are being literally abused, or going hungry, it is terrible that people put their energy into criticizing basically good parents, rather than trying to do something good for these children.

Hi Tertia,

You rock. Bravo.

Instinct is the way to go. I also have the TV on from time-to-time, we did CIO and only partly breasfed, and I've spanked once or twice in a dangerous situation.

So bring 'em on.

(my son CD was born on the same day as the twins, so I always look forward to your posts!!)

I really loved this post, and loved all the comments, too.

I think, that if people are going to "interfere," if they either 1) truly suspect an abusive or negligent situation, or 2) if they just want to offer friendly advice the other parent might find useful, they should keep in mind, THE MANNER OF ADVISING IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE ADVICE, in getting thei message across. They could have the best intentions in the world, but if they come off as preachy, condescending or threatening, their "interference" can be annoying, or can even risk making a bad situation even worse.

Oh, and to weigh in on the "how to justify working" comment conversation, when I was a SAHM who longed to be a WOHM, I used to say, "I want to use my brain in a certain way." Sure, I was using it every waking second of every day, but not in all the ways I wanted. Or I would say, "I miss a certain kind of stimulation."

I eventually put my kids in daycare fulltime and went back to work -- because I wanted to, although I could have afforded to stay home.

(Update: seven years later, I`m at home fulltime again --- and blogging seems to allow me to "use my brain in a certain way," and fill what was a void last time I was a SAHM.)

Oh this is so depressing.

It must suck to come from the nurturing, supportive community of IF women into the arena of the "know all" MOMMY.

If I ever get to be a mum I have no doubt I will be telling an awful lot of other MOMMY'S to eff off. I feel like punching someone right now! Grrr.

I LOVE THIS POST, I do, I do, I do. Motherhood is amazing and wonderful. Motherhood is also occasionally an absolute bitch and the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I do not understand the back stabbing and hatred when it would be so much more helpful and productive to support eachother.

Thank you for this.

Good for you T. I have long stopped listening what others are saying how I should raise MY kids.

BTW, today is National Licorice Day. :)

Amen, sister! You have a DEAL!

Bravo! I agree whole-heartedly. I give one piece of advice to all new moms, "You (and your partner) are the only people that know your child and what works for them. Lots of people or books will give you advice on raising children/babies. You can listen and read, but pick through it with what you think may work for your family." I have also practiced what I preach. Sounds like you do too!

I think the judgement happens because we've all got the secret ambition to be the best parent who ever lived. Which, even if we realize is an impossible goal, doesn't make it any less the thing that motivates us. We spend our lives, those of us who wanted to be parents, observing and weighing and yes, even judging, the actions of others, deciding what we liked about other people's styles and what we didn't. So by the time it comes for us to be mothers, we feel like we've got all this backstory that we have to live up too.

This and the fact that once we arrive, there's this sickening lurch where we realize it's not unending joy and daily adoration - it's plain hard work. And these kids are all so very different, that it's basically like operating without a safety net. We muddle. It's the most intense job in the world that doesn't come with any form of education or training. No one watches us or gives us performance evaluations to suggest that we can improve in some areas.

In the end, we police each other. And women are horrible to one another in that role. We comfort ourselves by looking down on others.

I just have to add my kudos to your post. I can't believe some of the vitriol that gets spread around in response to parenting choices. I work in an ER. I see things done to children that should never happen. My husband once commented that he felt like a bad parent because we let our son watch too much TV. If that's the worst of it, I thing we're doing a damn fine job.

Exactly. I will walk in my shoes and they can walk in theirs.

Skippidy do da skippidy day, my oh my all the mothering ways.

i love you T. am reading this post again and commenting again.

truth is, fuck em all. if your child is happy and healthy and you're happy and healthy, then all your critics can go blow themselves.

my best mate had a binkie til she was six. has perfect teeth and is the most well-adjusted individual i have ever met. so really, the 'rules' and 'assvice' can go run off into the fields.

MWAH MWAH MWAH

this is somewhat tangental, but it's what came to my mind as i was reading your post.

i think that sometimes a discussion about what works best for one mama can make another mama feel judged, questioned, or attacked.

[begin hypothetical example]
at some point in a conversation about what our kids will/won't deign to eat, i say that my child has never eaten french fries. does this mean that i'm sitting in not-so-silent, but -implied-, judgement of you as your child scarfs down a box of fries? no, it means i've never fed my kid fries, and while yeah, i don't think fries are good for little kids (or anyone), it certainly doesn't mean i think you're a bad mother. it means you and i have different opinions about our kids eating french fries, and nothing more. however, since the prevailing notion is that fries are unhealthy, it may feel like i'm judging your decision about what's best for your child. i'm not, and you'll just have to take my word for it; we really are just having a conversation about what our kids will or won't eat.
[end hypothetical example]

so, i think we do this to ourselves, taking every dissenting opinion as a criticism, but disagreeing about various points of parenting and child-rearing is really no different than disagreeing about which newspaper is superior, what restaurant serves the best food, or which car is best to drive. if you say you love your bmw, does that mean you're looking down your nose at my toyota? not necessarily.

sometimes a preference is truly just a preference (though certainly there ARE people who judge, silently and not-so-silently).

Delurking to say a couple of things - first, you are truly G&D, Dear Tertia!

My twin boys (IVF) just turned 14wks and I started back at work full-time on Monday. I am happy to be back at work. I make good money, I enjoy my job, and they missed me while I was out. I am not ashamed to admit that.

The daycare we chose is amazing -- I feel we are introducing great people into their lives who will love them and care for them while DH and I are at work.

I think what bugs me the most is that not only am I constantly asked to justify "Why" I am going back to work, but not a single person has asked my husband this question. I make more money than him. I provide our health and dental insurance. And yet everyone assumes if one of us were to give up a rewarding career to stay home, it should be me.

We adore our boys, we are thrilled to be parents, and we are confident we are making the right choices for OUR family. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't get much better than that.

Amy in KC, I am in the same boat as you--IVF twins, went back to work full-time when they were 18 weeks, make more money than hubby and provide dependent insurance. But it never ocurred to me how strange it was that no one asked him why he wasn't staying home. My boys are now 10 mos. I am a happier (i.e., better) mom because I am able to work. They love daycare and are excited every morning to be there (and thrilled to see me at the end of the day too). My mom worked and I did sometimes wish she was more available, to see me in school plays, etc. However, being the daughter of a working mom I hope will help me find the right balance for my boys--that is to know when to take time off, make sure they know they are the priority, etc.

My kids are older (11 and 14) and I promise: by the time they are in 3rd grade, breast/bottle vegan/processed food plastic/wooden toy differences add up to nada. I split my sides thinking about the obsessing I did about stuff that made no difference whatsoever in the long run.

I stayed at home for a while, and while it was nice when they were very small, I was miserable and bored after a certain point.

Only the most disciplined moms I knew really continued to use their brains. Way too many women regress into something that looks like competitive chick middle-school social dynamics, and it's not exactly a growing experience.

Being a good mother is important, but you don't really see immediate results. Maybe the Mom Head Games are an attempt for women who aren't mothering exclusively to feel they are mastering something and excelling at what they do.

I'm sure someone above has mentioned it already, but the sheer volume of comments you get lately is more than my strained eyes can handle (at one time), so I'll say it myself: as you, and many many of your readers know, this judgement of mothering can start way before the child is even CONCEIVED! Choices for conception? IVF? BAAAD! I don't want a SCIENCE baby! Adoption? It won't be YOUR child and she/he will DESPISE you for taking him/her away from birthmom! Got knocked up by accident? ARE YOU KEEPING THE BABY? Yes? BAAAD. NO? BAAAD. Etc etc ad nauseum!

ANY preparations you make for incoming children will invariably be flamed by anyone who feels authoratative on the subject. I really needn't give you examples, but I'll throw my current fave in for fun: The WORLD being horrified at celebrity Gwyneth (sp?) Paltrow drinking a GUINNESS while pregnant! THE HORROR

I hate, hate, HATE this judgement that's passed so freely and brashly, and I know it's only going to get worse from hereon in (I'm 7mo pregnant), but I'm thankful I'm a strong woman and honestly, quite a bitch when need be. So I know I won't feel too shy to let The Judge know exactly how much I appreciate her (or his!) opinion, and where she can stick it.

What I hate EVEN MORE than the judgements themselves, is how much this affects new mothers. Inflicting self-doubt is an awful, dangerous thing to willingly do to a woman whose life has just turned completely upside down and then exploded, and she's trying to hold it all together in the midst of harsh criticisms. I just shake my head at the thought of it.

T, you know you rock, and will continue to know that as you only rock harder as time goes on, and a big Thank You to bringing this to light (again), because it NEEDS to have light shone on it continuously. We have to work hard together to maintain SOME semblance of community in mothering, whether it's online or in a local community. And you're a big part of that. Rock on :)

I was nodding my way through your post. I can`t remember if I have commented before but I have been reading your blog for a while now. I am another person who doesn`t understand other mothers need to judge my way of mothering. My son has only recently started watching TV (he will be one next friday) and I see it as an important release for both of us. He gets extra english language stimulation (my husband is Japanese and we live in japan) and I get a few minutes to myself to catch up on chores/e-mail etc.. We do co-sleep but that is just how things are done in Japan, it wasn`t a big decision on my part. However, I have had many people commenting on how I must be some kind of hippy because my son sleeps with us.

I hate having to feel like i have to justify my choices one way or another. Like you said he is MY child and it is up to ME how he is raised.

Anyway, I will shut up now because you said it way better than I ever could!

PS- forgot to add that I finally gave up my bottle completely when I was almost five (I still used to drink milk from it sometimes) and it doesn`t seem to have had any bad effects on me mentally or physically. ;-)

I feel the same way you do. So much so that when my child was 4 months old and I found myself SHOCKED at the feeling of being left out of a sorority in my neighborhood because I wasn't going to the right Mommy and Me or reading the right parenting books or doing Attachment Parenting blah, blah, blah...I wrote a book about it. And it's published and available and about exactly this topic. It's called "Sippy Cups are not For Chardonnay" you should check it out it will make you feel so much better.

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