Let’s talk about judging.
If you are a tutter, shake your head-er, roll your eyes-er, in your head silent prosecutor or an out an out ‘guilty, your honour’ shouter then I’m talking about YOU.
If you are not then have you been a victim of judgement? Have you ever had to defend your parenting choices? Have you ever been reduced to tears of frustration in your inability to articulate your hurt about the passive aggressive, loud enough to hear, not loud enough to address TUT from behind you in the supermarket?
Chances are, if you are a parent in 2017, knowingly or not, you have been subject to judgement.
Off the top of my head topics which seem to provoke intense judgement from Joe(sephine) Public include:
Breastfeeding (your tits are totally turning us all on).
Formula feeding (you are poisoning your baby).
Dummies (your baby will never talk, other than to say ‘I’m suing you’. Plus it doesn’t go with their outfit you hooligan).
Letting your baby cry-it-out (future abandonment issues galore).
Baby wearing (oh HELLO spoilt baby).
People calling babies spoilt (you simply CANNOT spoil a baby).
Older children going in buggies (lazy, contributing to child obesity, get Jamie Oliver on the line).
Children who run off (control your little beasts, contain them in a buggy, get them some reins).
Children who wear reins (what are they? a dog?).
Going back to work (why have children?).
Staying at home (where is your ambition? call yourself a feminist?).
That list is by no means exhaustive, but so far, during my 7 years of parenting, they are the ones that have cropped up time and time in again, both in real life and in online ‘forums’. (Just as an aside if you are one of the 0.001% not to experience the wrath of judgey Susan in the street then a quick visit to any of the forums designed to ‘help’ parents and you’ll find her in all her judgemental glory behind a keyboard. Tell her I say ‘hi’).
We all know that judging other people makes you a bit of a dick. But what about when you really can’t help yourself? And are there levels of judgement? Are some things considered dicky things to judge someone for and other things totally ok to sling our ‘holier than thou’ judgement around?
WARNING: The following example is based on the aforementioned breast vs bottle judging that is hugely emotive. I have just taken this as an example of judgement that I have experienced and would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that the judging that is rife in this debate is two way – I am aware that there are also strident bottle feeders who judge women who breastfeed. Susan would like it mentioned that she judges both groups indiscriminately and has tutted so much over this blogpost that someone mistook her for a clock. The following is just an example and could be applied to any of the other listed things that provoke judgemental attitudes.
Let’s take an example. I think that most of us would agree (even you, Susan) that a lady who had experienced breast cancer and had decided not to breastfeed was totally within her rights to not want a human hanging off her breast, even if a doctor had suggested that breastfeeding was possible. Even the top dog, the head honcho, the mafioso of the Breastapo would let that lady off the hook – they’d probably even offer her a biscuit.
But what if another lady didn’t want to breastfeed because she’d had a boob job? Does she get a biscuit? Custard cream perhaps?
Or the lady who just doesn’t want to? Doesn’t like the thought of it. If she mentions that it’s not her bag she doesn’t even get a look-in biscuit wise, trust me.
So I guess as human beings we can declare ourself judgement free – when it sits right with us. When we are dishing out life’s chocolate hobnobs it is because we have made a moral judgement that the receiver is worthy of that (clearly superior) biscuit. But we can’t declare ourselves truly judgement free whilst we’re also silently closing the biscuit tin lid on someone who we are judging by our own moral code or opinion. Judgement doesn’t work like that – it’s not really a sliding scale where we can hold our banners of ‘FREE CHOICE FOR ALL’ above our heads but have another sign resting by our sides saying ‘Terms and conditions apply: Hattie has been known to make shit choices in the past’. It might well be true (it is) but when you say you wouldn’t judge anyone who after invasive surgery wouldn’t fancy breast feeding, then you have to mean that. Reasons for invasive surgery aside.
Breast cancer or boob job, not enough milk or not enough time, don’t like the thought of it or don’t like the feel of it.
I’m not judging you.
You can sit with me.
Let’s get the chocolate hobnobs out.