“Stop Kissing the Baby”? No, let’s stop judging parents

Let’s stop judging parents.

When I had my first child, my mother came to stay with us. Unfortunately, she and I fought like cats and dogs. At one point, she told me, “Will you please stop kissing the baby?  Enough, already!  You’re going to suffocate her!”

stop judging parents

For the remainder of her stay, I snuck in lots of kisses whenever she wasn’t looking … not just because I adored my baby but as a way of performing juicy little acts of rebellion.

Why judgements are tough for parents

Getting criticized, being told what to do, and feeling judged are the really tough parts of parenting. Judgements from strangers are hard enough, to get them from other parents?

The difficulty for us is twofold:

  • Parents are so easily judged by others. Mothers, especially, are constantly being told how to do their jobs. Can you imagine walking into someone’s office and telling her that she’s typing too slowly or that that instead of typing she should actually be using a pen and paper. Yet strangers seem to feel compelled to tell us that our children should be wearing hats in addition to the hoods on their jackets!
  • We don’t get report cards on how we’re doing. Moreover, the end result of how we’ve done as parents is not likely to occur in our lifetime.

In a nutshell, we want to know how we’re doing as parents, yet most of the time all we receive is unsolicited criticism.

Why parents judge other parents

Perhaps this is why we sometimes secretly relish opportunities to critique other parents: we get to dish out some of what we have to take. Or perhaps, we get to put a stake in the ground on something we know others will agree with.

We also often critique one set of parents: our own. Whether we like it or not, we have learned how to parent from our own parents. As you’ve probably already heard from various parenting experts and psychologists, we’re either doing the opposite of what our parents did, as an act of rejecting it, or repeating (sometimes inadvertently) what they did.

Looking back, I know the kisses naturally made my Korean mother uncomfortable. Kissing wasn’t part of her culture, upbringing, or personality. I, on the other hand, was in the U.S. during my tween years, and watching Carol Brady with her children on The Brady Bunch both mesmerized me and made me believe I had been deprived of affection by my mother.

How to stop judging parents

Rather than judge other parents, let’s try this:

  1. Compliment a parent on how he or she is doing. Notice what that parent is doing right and simply mention it to him or her. If possible, try this out on someone close to you, like your own parent or spouse. Many parents I work with have found that when they started doing this for their spouse, their spouse did the same for them.
  2. Recognize when you do something right. Take a moment to congratulate yourself or appreciate the accomplishment. It is far more motivating than self-criticism.

Can you think of other ways to stop judging parents?