I’ll never co-sleep with my kids. I chuckle, thinking back to my pre-kid self as I stuff pee covered, king-sized sheets into my washer.
A thing I said would never be a thing is definitely a thing now. We didn’t let our son sleep in our bed for the first two years of his life, but a swap to a toddler bed, a move, and a global pandemic later, and here we are. And I think, how funny that I made that decision without any actual parenting experience, or heck, life experience even. But don’t we all? Aren’t we our most judging selves when we’re not actually the ones in the experience?!
Judgment is our second nature it seems, and I’m not exempt. it makes us feel safe. I’ve noticed that people tend to put down the choices of others to help confirm their own, especially when they’re not 100% confident in their own choices themselves. Judgment, unfortunately, allows us to build connection with a group at the expense of an individual the group has deemed not alike. Kind of sick and sad when you think about it. And rampant right now in this generation of social media and parenting choices galore. How should you feed your child, where should they sleep, when should they be potty trained, talk, read, go to school? What’s the right way to go to school? When should you provide them a sibling? Spoiler alert, you’re never right, every decision will come with opinions from others either on your side or against it.
Here’s what parenting has taught me though and what my co-sleeping revelation reminded me of. That mom that you think should have at least tried to breastfeed might have extensive mental health diagnosis she’s working through, it’s healthier for her to bottle feed and be happy. The parents that are sending their kids to daycare and working full-time might not have any other financial choice. The mom that’s breastfeeding in public, doesn’t have any energy to care about covering up or your opinion anyway, she’s tired. The child that you think needs to go to bed earlier, needs to be disciplined better, needs to eat more than chicken nuggets… fill in the blank, we’ve all had these automatic judgmental thoughts about other’s lives. All of those families have their own stuff going on whether you see it on social media or they do or don’t talk to you about it in person.
The reality is that until you’ve been faced with a hysterical 2-year-old at 11 pm, who you’ve been trying to get to sleep for two hours after working all day, you don’t necessarily get to have an opinion about co-sleeping. Until you’ve been up late at night with that mom who is juggling two other kids, breastfeeding a baby, pumping at work, and working full time, I would tread lightly with your opinion about breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Until you’ve tried to work a full-time job from home while taking care of four kids during a global pandemic, your screen time opinion is the least of that parent’s worries!
We’re all just doing our best despite our individual family circumstances, work schedules, family support, and mental and physical health. We’re all checking with our pediatricians. Your circumstances and experiences aren’t mine and mine aren’t yours so that’s going to mean we’ll make different decisions too.
Judgment is inevitable, but let’s check ourselves, let’s check each other. The next time you feel an opinion coming on, take a moment to think about the whole person, the whole situation, and individual and systemic circumstances in place. See if that person needs some help, give a smile, share your own experiences, knowledge, and advice if they ask for it, but don’t turn to your friend and make an ugly comment, I hope we all left that in middle school.