May 26, 2010

The Moms Club?

          It is great to be able to connect with people based on things you have in common. Earlier this week I wrote about the wonderful community of writers I am proud to be part of. Does a similar "club" exist for moms? The answer is yes. And no.
           What I have found is that moms I personally know are an extremely supportive group. I can go to them for advice, or to commiserate. They are more than willing to share their experiences and expertise. And they do not judge me.
          Beyond that small circle of moms is a scary, often cruel world. I've written about this before. Moms are attacking moms. This week I read yet another article on the subject. I find it so disheartening. Why must moms judge and criticize each other? 
          This is a subject I am exploring in my new book. The excerpt below touches on my own theory on the phenomenon:
If women were to listen purely to the messages of society, or each other it would seem, there is no choice that is “right.” As one male friend once put it, “How is a woman to win? Somehow, you are not doing what you are supposed to do if you do not have a career. But then, you are not doing what you are supposed to do if you are not with your children.” That is exactly the dilemma facing many moms today.
Perhaps that is why women resort to attacking each other. It is a way to vent the frustration they feel being trapped in a winless situation. Resenting the judgment they encounter, whether real or imagined, they lash out at an accessible target. Or could it be a case of insecurity? I know I am full of uncertainty when it comes to my skills as a mom. I am constantly questioning the decisions I’ve made or actions I’ve taken. Maybe some women find it more comfortable to question others. This is all conjecture, of course. I can’t say why women disparage each other. What I do know is that this is a topic that stirs much debate and strong emotions.

          What do you think? Why can't moms support, or at least learn to accept, each other?

NOTE: If you would like to read more excerpts from my book, look under my blog archive for the month of April.


  1. Mom's need support and validation. Why would anyone tear another down for doing a tough job?

  2. Perhaps it is because motherhood is such a personal experience... No one wants to feel like their way is wrong.

  3. Great post. It's all about respecting choices.

  4. Like you, I have overwhelmingly experienced support and encouragement in real life. The Internet's a different story. I read the USA Today article, too, and one thing I noticed is something you touch on in this statement: "Resenting the judgment they encounter, whether real or imagined..." When the woman was shocked the mom's 9m.o. wasn't sleeping through the night, maybe she was concerned for the MOM. It wasn't necessarily a criticism. I think a lot of moms - myself included - are very sensitive and defensive when it comes to parenting issues because we're trying so hard and want to do the right thing for our kids. I know that my MIL's comments can sometimes seem to me like criticism and unwanted advice when really she's just trying to help. The real issue is whether your kids are surviving and thriving. If so, you should look no further for proof that you're doing OK.

  5. I think there is a lot that comes into play with real mommy judgement and perceived mommy judgement. I'm happy to say I haven't really been on the receiving end of too much of it, especially amongst women on this side of the computer screen. My experience, actually, has been really positive. I feel like there's a quiet revolution of women who are actively trying to support each other and not tear each other down. Perhaps it's because I'm a little younger, perhaps it's because I'm an optimist. I think the media really likes to take the "mommy judgement" thing and run with it, because what's easier to write about than a bunch of perceived catfights?

    I'm not saying it doesn't exist. It does, and that's sad, but judgement exists in all spectrums of life, not just motherhood. I think we are just super sensitive to it as mothers because, the fact is, each and every one of us is doing the best we know how, and shouldn't that be enough?

    The thing is, there is a difference between genuinely questioning someone's choice, wanting to know more about it, know where the person is coming from, and judgement. I think a lot of women are quick to feel defensive when any of their parenting decisions are questioned, but that doesn't mean they are being judged. I know I've been guilty of this defensiveness in the past. I got some much needed sleep, a few months of parenting behind me, and I got over it. Nobody meant any harm.

    As I've grown more confident in my parenting ability (and it's taken 2 years!), I've learned that I just have to own my decisions and be okay with them. There is no RIGHT way to raise a child, just the way that feels best to me.

  6. Ladies, you make some excellent points. I personally have never been on the receiving end, but I have seen women attack each other online. I think the most important thing for all of us to remember is that there is no one "right" way to be a mom. What works for one may not work for another. I think a healthy dialogue carried out with respect is important. But I'm not sure the respect is always there...

  7. I agree with Miss Kitty. Most of the time I feel pretty level headed about other peoples parenting. In the three years I've had children I have been a working "career" mom and a "stay at home" mom. I feel like I see things from both sides of that subject. I've never been a single mom on the other hand and feel like I could never have ground on commenting or judging those who are. It seems most moms are doing the best they can do in their situation. We all deserve credit for just being a mom. -Georgia


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