Judging Judy

August 17, 2011

Did I mention that I’m a mother? To a sweet, bright-eyed bundle of energy? Peach is 15 months old. These 15 months of parenthood, and the 9 months of prep work that preceded it, have taught me that voicing your opinions about parenthood, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, vaccinating, daycare, cloth diapers, co-sleeping, discipline, diet, routine, and a whole host of other topics, can get you into hot water with friends and acquaintances very, very quickly. And when the social buffers are removed? Yikes. The comment streams on parenting blogs can be absolutely toxic.

I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to how I want to raise my daughter to become a strong, brave, kind, curious and generous soul. Bullying stories that make “Lord of the Flies” look like an afterschool program are in local and national news. Marketing to elementary-schoolers glorifies self-entitled, sexualized princesses. I shake my head at how screwed up our daughters’ world is when people talk about girls being KIND to one another, like it’s some kind of miracle. Something is very wrong with our culture when girls (or ANYONE, for crying out loud!) are expected to turn into mean people.

And it occurred to me today, while reading a wonderful essay from New Mom on the Blog on Pregnant Chicken that these two things, the way mothers judge each other and the way our daughters act, might be related. This is not some ponderous epiphany. A righteous mama snarking about another mom co-sleeping (or not) with her four-year-old isn’t unusual. Neither is an 11 year-old slamming her classmate’s taste in music. Maybe —just maybe— if our daughters saw their mothers exercising understanding, restraint, kindness and compassion in all corners of our lives, our daughters would have a better frame of reference for how to be kind people.

And if you need a role model to help get you started on being compassionate and understanding, check out New Mom on the Blog for a fantastic example of how to be kind, with a backbone. It’s possible.