So, my husband and I were in a Mexican restaurant recently and these parents we were chatting with at the next table gave their five month old a whole tortilla chip.
“Oh my god!” I whispered to my husband. “That looks so dangerous!”
Tortilla chips are hard, really hard, and they have sharp corners. His dad also gave him a bit of food off his plate and, of course, the baby started to cry, because it was spicy.
The parents weren’t awful. They were affectionate with their baby and he seemed fine when they left. But I was relieved when they did leave because they were making me uncomfortable.
I asked some friends about the tortilla chip, to find out what other people thought, and most did seem to think it was weird and possibly dangerous. Though one person made the inevitable comment that I “shouldn’t judge.”
And I was like, “Why the eff not?”
I am so sick of this “let’s not judge each other,” trend and I’d like to put my two cents in towards putting it to bed. It’s OK to judge. The court of public opinion has a function. It keeps people in line and from committing social and family crimes. Smaller crimes. The kind that aren’t prosecuted in real court. (Because, if you see someone doing something really dangerous or illegal, you should call the authorities, of course.)
I’m not suggesting you should go around handing out unsolicited citations and being a holier-than-thou jerk. I’m suggesting that it’s OK to think people are wrong. Because, YES, despite what you’ve been reading on the mommy blogs, there are right and wrong ways to parent.
Example: I was walking down the street last summer and a couple was walking towards me, into the hot sun – it was brutally hot. Stay indoors hot – which was beating straight down on their toddler in the stroller who was shielding his eyes and looking very distressed. There was no sunshield. No hat. This looked so wrong. It was one of those situations where I weighed saying something, but it’s none of my business. But I judged them. Oh boy did I judge them.
Another time some tough gangsta-type guy was letting his baby, about three months old, cry on the cold marble floor of a mall. That time I said something. I told him to pick up his kid and comfort her. It broke my heart because, of course, he yelled at me and threatened me instead and there wasn’t actually anything I could do about the situation (Call the cops? He wasn’t hitting her and he’d be gone by the time they got there anyway. I really couldn’t do anything). All I could do was judge him. So I did.
I judge other parents. I judge you for yelling at your children, for whining back at your children like you are children yourselves, for feeding your kids junk, for not dressing your children warmly enough when it’s freezing, for ignoring your kids while you stare at your phone, for your stupid baby names. And, of course, for not vaccinating your children.
I don’t judge you for everything. I don’t care if you breastfeed or formula feed, if you use a stroller or a carrier, if you drink a bit of wine when you’re pregnant, if you cosleep, if you choose to homeschool. Only people with way to much time on their hands judge you for those things. I judge those people.
Am I right? Maybe not. Go ahead and judge me if you think I’m wrong. That’s OK too. I bet there are tons of people who would think I’m a ridiculous overparenter. They could be right. (Who am I kidding? Of course they’re right. I’m working on it, OK?) Just because I think others do things that are wrong doesn’t mean I think I do everything right.
I judge you for things that I think may cause harm to your child or to other children.
And I will continue to do so. Because we don’t have to go around telling ourselves everyone is doing a great job when not everyone is doing a great job.
You already do it anyway. Don’t feel like you have to berate yourself over it.
So, don’t tell me not to judge. I’ll just be forced to judge you for it.