May 07, 2013
Abbott Park, Illinois (NYSE: ABT) — New findings from The National Motherhood Decisions Survey conducted by Mom Central and Similac® suggests that 95 percent of moms feel negatively judged on their parenting decisions. (source)
This study – quoted here in a press release by Abbot Laboratories (“turning science into caring”) – surveyed over 1,100 moms with one or more kids under age five. It found that most of them feel judged for their:
- Parenting style,
- Work choices,
- Infant feeding,
- For being too strict, and equally:
- For spoiling their kids.
These days, parenting choices – from childbirth to formula-feeding to vaccination to diets containing gluten – are all high stakes, every last one of them. In a climate like that, you don’t just make different choices than your neighbor. You either attain, or fail to attain, virtue.
What’s up with the Mommy Wars?
Who knows. But, it might have something to do with the fact that moms face tremendous pressure: from their obligations, from society, from themselves, from each other.
On a New York website that organizes self-exploration groups for moms, Sherri Muroff Kalt makes the point:
The concept that women can do anything “has morphed into the expectation that we should be able to do everything. What began as a liberating, empowering idea turned into the ultimate perfectionistic requirement” (TheAuthenticMom.com).
So what is Supermom supposed to do again?
- Run a household (meal planning, cooking, cleaning, laundry)
- Run errands (grocery shopping, car maintenance, banking, clothes and gift shopping)
- Plan and care for children (meal prep, homework help, school projects and events, doctor visits, clothing, activities)
- Maintain a marriage
- Self care (personal hygiene, exercise, social life)
- Care for elderly parents, if applicable
- Figure out the skills and formulas you need to be able to do it all
Which maybe adds to the judgement thing. The idea is, when you’re struggling with superhuman responsibilities, you’re going to demote pieces of your life to the back burner. Which takes a personal toll. Then, when you run into someone else who hasn’t put those same things on their own back burner – they’ve made different decisions, with a different set of sacrifices – you get defensive. Resentful. Judgey.
Okay, maybe… but it’s not just that.
There’s a lot of perfectionism going around, let’s face it, with cliques of varying degrees of “crunch” forming around different sets of ideals.
Kalt is aware of that too. It’s like there’s this lurking notion: if we’re not “parenting perfectly,” that is, “in sync with what family members, child development ‘experts’, and the media prescribe—we are setting our kids up to fail.”
child development experts, the media… oh my.
That’s a lot of voices. As one mommy blogger puts it,
“I think it’s all too easy to lose your voice in the sea of opinion that pipes up once you become pregnant; you know the one – it dictates what you should be thinking, saying, wearing and doing if you’re to be a ‘good’ mum” (LittleEAndBean.com).
Add to that, moms judging other moms.
When the judgement’s coming directly from another mom – a person you feel should be on your side, somehow – it’s painful. Yet mom-judging has become a sport unto itself: an Olympic competition that nobody meant to enter. Little E and Bean again:
“Personally I’ve found a lot of the mummy communities have voices that are cliquey and dictatorial, they encourage judgement for judgement’s sake, and they devalue individuality and diversity of thought.”
For example… ever met one of these ten moms?
Seems like it doesn’t have to be that way. Right? Seems like all this judginess is unfortunate. And not necessary. After all, couldn’t we all be doing things to, I don’t know, support each other instead?
We have lots of ideas about that, which we’ll publish in Part Two of this post next week…
Meanwhile, something fun to leave you with:
If you take it, come back and leave your score in a comment!