Every parent has had a run-in with them - ‘them’ being the people who have no qualms offering up their unwanted advice or who pass judgment quickly with a critical look. Sometimes, these people don’t even have children of their own but in most cases, the worst offenders are often parents themselves.
Yes - time marches on and memories fade but these moments of judgment cut deep. Chances are a mother will forget which of her children cut their teeth earliest or walked first but when it comes to recalling the time an acquaintance passed judgment on her parenting or when strangers watched with raised eyebrows while her toddler had a public meltdown, a mother will have every single detail imprinted on her memory for the rest of time.
Clarissa P., one of the moms who’s story is listed below, sums it up best with these words of wisdom: “When we’re in the trenches of motherhood, it’s easy to forget that the good days far outnumber the bad. When we’re caught in that bad moment, it can feel like the hardest day of our lives.” And she speaks from experience as Clarissa knows what it feels like to be judged because of an off-moment. Yet she also knows that unwavering support can buoy any mother up over these brief instants - reminding us that there is far more good than bad.
Continue reading for 16 true confessions of mothers who faced judgment and how they handled it.
16 Mum's The Word
Kimberly*, mother to three teens remembers a time when her twin boys were eight and daughter was four. “I was in the car with my three as well as my mother-in-law. I was having a bad day to begin with plus my boys were fighting and my daughter was having a melt-down. In a moment of weakness, I burst into tears and confided in my MIL how overwhelmed and out-numbered I felt. Silly me for thinking she would get it considering she is the mother of twins as well.
“Looking back - all I really needed from her was a hug. But instead she began listing all the things I was doing wrong and what I needed to change. In that moment, she made me feel even worse than I already did - like a complete failure of a mother. To add insult to injury, I opened my front door the next morning to a step-by-step manual on how to be a better parent. I dumped it straight into my recycle bin.
“I learned two lessons - never to show weakness in front of my MIL again. And to be supportive to any mom who needs it...not judgmental.”
15 Nursing Some Doubt
Kallie W. was pregnant with the first of four children when she had an uncomfortable run-in with a nurse that left her feeling crestfallen and guilty.
“This is going back some time when cord blood banking was just becoming popular. That’s where blood from the baby’s umbilical cord is stored for the stem cells it contains - just in case the baby needs it in the future. My husband and I didn’t know much about it but after doing some research, we decided to go ahead with it.
“Part of the prep required me to have blood drawn to make sure I was an eligible candidate for the program. I went to a local blood clinic with my necessary forms. The nurse flipped through the forms and said: ‘Boy - you must not have anything better to spend your money on.’ She continued to mutter under her breath about how spoiled I was and what a pointless process I was wasting my money on as she took my blood.
“I was so upset that I phoned my doctor the next day and told her what had happened. The nurse did end up phoning me to apologize - but it didn’t really change how awful I felt in that moment.”
14 An Ethnic Dilemma
Mother to a “one and only”, Cheryl* was taken aback by all the rude comments she received from family, friends and even strangers about adopting her baby girl from China.
“For some reason, people in our lives - even complete strangers - had no issue approaching my husband and me to ask why we had to adopt in the first place - as if it was any of their business! Plus, whether they meant to or not, I felt completely judged. As if I was less of a mother because of the adoption.
“The worst offender was a woman I kind of knew. I was at a barbecue holding my daughter when this friend-of-a-friend approached me. At first, she seemed really sweet - asking about how we were all adjusting - things like that. But then from out of nowhere she asked why I would even consider adopting a baby that was a visible minority because it would always be obvious that she wasn’t actually mine!
“I didn’t even bother answering her. I think I just stormed off and she got the hint. I wasn’t going to waste my time talking to someone who was clearly too ignorant to realize how disgusting and racist she was.”
13 The Sky's The Limit
Rachel C. was on a three-hour flight with her four-month-old son when she happened to be seated next to a woman content to judge yet not offer this new mom any support.
“The woman next to me seemed nice enough although she wasn’t exactly warm either. During the flight, I nursed my son a few times but overall he was calm and quiet. As the flight progressed, I noticed she began stealing irritated glances my way but never said anything.
“Upon landing, I was relieved to have gotten through unscathed. The woman looked over at me and commented: ‘He’s going to have ONE heavy diaper.’ I was surprised by her tone and immediately felt judged. Her comment hit on so many new mom insecurities. Obviously her snarky remark insinuated I should’ve changed him during the flight. I tried not to give it any more thought as I was packing up and disembarking.
“It really wasn’t a big deal. But three children later, looking back on this I realize if she was genuinely concerned, she could’ve offered to help me out rather than try to make a new, inexperienced mom travelling on her own feel bad.”
12 Not Exactly Irish Twins
Wendy G. is mother to a daughter and son born 17 months apart. Like most moms, she’s had her fair share of judgy run-ins but what stands out most in her mind is when she went back to work after having her first.
“Returning from my mat leave, it was clear I was already pregnant once again. It was a happy surprise, but I didn’t necessarily feel the need to share this with my co-workers. Immediately, a group of women - all mothers, all old enough to know better - began questioning me about why I would go and get myself pregnant so soon after having my first. This opened the door to personal questions about my sex life and contraceptive choices. I felt personally attacked for being pregnant when I still had a baby at home.
“The fact was I was highly emotional and stressed about this situation to begin with. And these women had the power to welcome me back and make me feel like a great mom but they did the exact opposite. I ended up taking the high road and just ignoring their insinuations. But I haven’t forgotten it or how it felt at the time.”
11 Food For Thought
Margaret L. and one of her close friends happened to be pregnant at the same time. As she soon discovered, this can be a difficult situation for women who don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on certain issues.
“I was six months pregnant with my second baby and my good friend Joan* was about four months along with her first. She came by my house to pick something up and it happened to be lunch time so I invited her to stay.
“I quickly threw together a couple of turkey sandwiches. She kept looking at her sandwich so I asked if it was okay. She said: ‘I’m sorry - but I don’t want to risk eating processed meat while I’m pregnant’. I felt like an idiot as I was more than half-way done my sandwich!
“I felt like no matter what I offered, she had an issue with it. Peanut butter was a no-no, as was cheese, tomatoes and even toast (as I only had white bread!) I felt completely judged during the visit because of the fact that I thought it was okay to eat any of this stuff! In the end, she ate some lettuce and cucumber with vinegar on the side.”
10 A Family Divided
When her husband unexpectedly left her and their two young children, Emma* found herself on the receiving end of judgment and criticism instead of the support she truly needed.
“In the blink of an eye, I felt like I went from being the perfect mom to one struggling to give her kids everything they deserve. My husband moved to a different country so now it was up to me alone to juggle work, the house and my girls’ emotional needs. I wrongly assumed that people close to me would be supportive and sensitive to what we were going through.
“One time, I was confiding in a friend about my concern for my daughters. I was worried about how the separation from their father was affecting them. My friend said: ‘It’s all in your mind. Tell your kids to get over it - they aren’t the first ones in the world to experience something like this.’ I was shocked and upset by her comment.
“I think it’s important to keep in mind that friendship sometimes means offering unconditional support to people who need it. If I wanted an opinion or advice . . . I’d ask for it!”
9 Auto Attack
Amanda*, mother of three remembers an incident from several years ago which left her feeling judged and criticized.
“My twins were two at the time and I had a package I needed to drop off at the mailbox. I drove to a nearby plaza I knew had a mailbox, parked the car, locked the doors and jogged over to drop off my parcel. I didn’t feel the need to unbuckle my girls and drag them along with me considering I was able to see them both.
“When I turned back to my car, I saw a lady looking in my van window. She appeared to be talking to my girls through the glass. I assumed she was just being friendly but when I got closer, she turned to me and basically gave me hell for leaving them in the car. When I explained that I was just dropping a letter into the mail - she told me her husband was a cop and that she was just about to phone the police.
“I figured it was best not to engage with her so I just got into my car and drove away leaving her in the dust.”
8 Donor Even Think About It
Fifteen years ago, when Brandy G. was a first-time mom, she was living in a new city hoping to connect with other moms.
“There was a drop-in group at the library where new parents could meet up for conversation with babies in tow. Four of us hit it off and we’d meet from time-to-time at a food court or coffee shop. Maybe a month went by and then one of the mom’s from our little group emailed an invitation to lunch in her home. When I got there, I soon noticed there were only three of us. When I asked where the fourth mom was, the host said: ‘I don’t think we have much in common with her so I didn’t invite her.’
“The missing mom was single and had conceived her baby with the use of donor sperm - something she had confided to our group early in our friendship. This one mother did not approve and took it upon herself to not only judge her decision, but pass judgment on my behalf as well!
“I was upset but remained silent. I made an excuse and left and never hung out with any of them again.
7 Work It Out
Justina*, mother of three, had just given birth to her first when judgment reared its ugly head between her and her best friend.
“Even though I was legally entitled to a year off for mat leave, my husband and I made the difficult decision that I would return to work after six months. This made sense as I was the breadwinner in our household - but there was also a huge part of me that was itching to get back to my career. I was really embarrassed for feeling this way - I felt like a bad mother!
“My best friend was very judgmental and kept harping on me for going back to work. She insisted that my baby should take priority over money - as if my decision was such a simple and easy one. At first, I avoided her but eventually I told her how judged she made me feel. I honestly think she didn’t realize! She apologized to me and after a bit of awkwardness, we got over it and are still very good friends.”
6 Potty-Training Predicament
When Laurie D.’s daughter was three and a bit, they were at the park for some play-time and as it turns out, a bit of judgment as well.
“There was another mother at the park too with a girl similar in age to mine. The girls played and the other mother and I made polite conversation. At one point, my daughter sat down on the sand and the mother commented about her diaper. She said how surprised she was that my daughter wasn’t potty-trained yet as her daughter had been for a long time. I just said that ‘she wasn’t ready’.
After an awkward silence, this other mother turned to me and in an all-knowing tone said: ‘Frankly, when a child isn’t potty-trained by age three, it’s because of the parents’ laziness.’ I was seething inside but I did my best to keep it at bay.
“The clincher is that as I was packing my daughter up in her stroller to head home, this other mom whipped out her breast and started feeding her kid on the bench. Of course I didn’t say anything because I’m not the judgmental type - LOL!”
5 A Baby By Any Other Name
Mother of one, Stephanie* recalls a moment from the past where another woman unleashed a torrent of unwarranted criticism on her.
“I was about seven months pregnant and at a friend’s wedding. During dinner, I was seated next to an acquaintance. We made some small talk, mostly pregnancy-related and then she asked me what names my husband and I were considering. Being naive, I told her that we were having a girl and that her name was already picked out. When I told her the name, she said: ‘Hmmmm. That’s pretty old-fashioned. You may need to wait and see on that one.’ I just sort of shrugged her comment off and tried to change the subject. But she wouldn’t have it. She actually started to become quite heated and kept insisting that our name choice was not a good one and that we owed it to our unborn daughter to come up with something else.
“I think I laughed - I mean I just couldn’t believe how angry she was. She got quiet and then said: ‘Mark my words, your baby will hate you for naming her that.’ Matilda is now 15 years old - and we both think this story is hilarious!”
4 Gross Misjudgment
Hillary*, mother of one relates the trials and tribulations she experienced from the well-intentioned barrage of ‘suggestions’ she received on a daily basis about her daughter.
“Chelsea* had significant gross motor delays as an infant. She also had torticollis and couldn’t move her head to the left which meant she was in occupational therapy from five months onward. There were other issues as well including plagiocephaly (a flat head due to the existing torticollis), severe reflux, not to mention that she was also underweight. We spent the first three years of her life in and out of doctors’ offices, meeting with specialists and attending a variety of therapies. Because of all this, she didn’t crawl until 17 months and didn’t walk until she was two.
“People would provide us with ‘helpful’ suggestions that usually began with ‘have you tried putting her on the floor with some toys just out of reach?’ Or else they’d ask if ‘we held her all the time’. I would feel like they were blaming us."
Currently, Chelsea is a happy and healthy nine-year-old - but it took a lot of teeth-gritting and tongue-biting for Hillary and her husband to get to this point.
3 One And Done
Mother of one son, Suzanne* says she feels regularly judged by others because she never had any more children.
“The fact is, my husband and I chose to only have one child. And the only other people in the world who know this are my in-laws. They are kind and loving people who have always been supportive. I am embarrassed to admit that even my own parents and sister are under the impression that I am unable to have any more. Whenever people question why I don’t have more children, I have just found it easier to mislead them and say: ‘I hoped for more but it didn’t work out.’ No one ever pushes further.
“Right or wrong - this is the best way for me to deal with questions. Both my husband and I know we made the right decision for us by only having the one. But I just don’t feel like constantly defending this choice.”
2 Pills and Potions
Kendra N. was seven months pregnant with her third child when she experienced a judgmental encounter at her local pharmacy.
“I had been suffering awful headaches all through my third and final pregnancy. My OBGYN had told me to avoid Advil but had recommended Tylenol which I was taking as I needed.
"One morning, I woke up to a raging headache yet an empty pill bottle. So I packed my twin daughters up and we went to a nearby pharmacy. As I was waiting to pay, a female pharmacist approached me and asked if the pills were for me. When I told her they were, she said: ‘Pregnant women should not be taking Tylenol.’ At first I thought she was actually concerned for my welfare and not being judgy so I asked her what she recommended for a headache. And she said: ‘I suggest you suck it up.’ Then she actually took the bottle out of my hand and said she would be unable to sell it to me!
“I ended up speaking to the manager about it but I’m not sure what happened. I left and bought the Tylenol at a grocery store located in the same plaza.”
1 Caught In A Moment
Mother to three boys, Clarissa P. fell victim to a stranger’s judgment a few years ago.
“It was a cold, wet day and I was out walking with my two boys (three and 13 months at the time) and a baby girl I was caring for as well. My toddler wanted to go to the library but I told him we needed to get home for a nap. He started whining and carrying on but I wouldn’t give in. A couple of blocks from home, I reached my breaking point and raised my voice in the hopes that he would stop.
“A lady walking by looked at us and commented ‘Well that was mean’. I just pushed on by her and got everyone home and down for nap-time. Afterward, I posted about the experience on Facebook and commented that I could’ve really used sympathy, understanding or just silence instead of her judgment. My friends came through with their love and support which I truly needed in that moment.”
“When we’re in the trenches of motherhood, it’s easy to forget that the good days far outnumber the bad. When we’re caught in that bad moment, it can feel like the hardest day of our lives.”