Why getting judgey about parenting is ok

By on Mar 30th

Yotsuba & Aaaaargh!

YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT LOTUS BIRTH MAKE ME FEEL LIKE THIS! Photo by Flickr user Manic Toys, used with Creative Commons license.

This tweet showed up in my reader the other day: Realised something about myself today: I am not non-judgey enough to read Offbeat Families. I don't even have kids! WTF do I know?

I laughed and appreciated the tweeter's perspective: how I wish more people on the internet would admit "WTF do I know?" But here's the thing: The key to Offbeat Families reading for me isn't to avoid all judgement, but to recognize when it's happening. Seriously, I'M judgey as hell, and I publish the freaking site!

For me, the goal is not to kill the judgment (impossible! irrational!) but to observe which issues make it flare up. I think there's a lot to be learned from observing one's judgments, and "Wow, I'm a judgmental bitch. Maybe I should work on that…" is just the first and most obvious lesson.

For me, when I feel parental judgment flare up (and trust me, this happens all the time on Offbeat Families!) I use it as a tool to examine my own motives and values. That judgey feeling tells me, "Uh, clearly this is a topic I have some strong emotions about…why?" I try to ask myself why I care — what are the ramifications of someone doing something differently than me? What can I do in my own life to ensure that I'm living with integrity on this issue? What are my personal experiences with this issue that make it so important to me?

(Obviously, there are limits to this concept: I think we can all agree we have judgments about child abuse and neglect — but then again, it's intense to see how opinions vary on what exactly constitutes abuse or neglect.)

In running Offbeat Families, my goal is NOT to find consensus. (Impossible!) Nor is my goal to eliminate all judgement. (Although I do eliminate judgmental comments.) My goal is to expose readers to as many perspectives as possible, so that we can examine our own beliefs, learn from our judgments, and gain greater insight into our OWN parenting values.