What You Should Do The Next Time Someone Calls You A Bad Mom


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The last twenty-four hours have been a little bit surreal for me. I’m not sure why – as my husband said just this evening, weird events mixed with our usual day-to-day at-home nonsense is the norm. We did our homeschooling work. I do folders for each six-day period – yesterday was Day 2 (worksheet day), today was Day 3 (learning project and TAG pen time). As usual, we took our long walk around my father’s neighborhood, in the middle of the day when there aren’t a bunch of people and cars around. Breakfast-lunch-dinner-cleaning the house, working on redoing the kiddie bedroom …it was all pretty much the usual, with miscellaneous hilarity mixed in.

But the weird events were not as fun as they usually are.

First, yesterday afternoon my mother told me that I am a bad mother. She had called to give me the “big news” that another family member is having a baby, and rather than just express excitement she had to use it as another opportunity to cut me down. “…and I’m thrilled because now your grandmother will have another baby in the family, because God knows no one wants you to have any more kids. You aren’t very good at even handling what you have now.”

What the fuck? That’s what you should be thinking. I did too, then I remembered who I was talking to.

Par for the course.

In spite of that being par for the course, this morning I woke up feeling like I had been socked in the gut. And it only got worse as the morning drudged on.

As I was getting out of the shower – around 8:30 – I heard some noise outside and saw that a car was parked in the walkway between the parking lot and the walkway. It had a California Exempt license plate and two business-y-looking people were escorting two, young children from the townhome of one of our neighbors. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that someone had called Child Protective Services, and those children were being taken away from their parents.

It didn’t go as I always thought a visit like that would go. There were no dramatics. No one was screaming or crying. Even the kids seemed a little calm, vaguely as though they expected it. Immediately the neighbors began to congregate in the walkway, as they always do. The gossip began and the term “bad mother” was said so many times, I almost walked out and told them all to shut their filthy, judgmental mouths.

It was in these events of the last twenty-four hours – these unusual, weird, painful events – that I started to think about just who has a right to call someone a bad mom. And the answer I came to is simple:

Not a single goddamned person.

Every time I start to question the parenting of another person, I stop myself right in my tracks. Who am I to judge? Who am I to say what other people should do, in their time with their kids in their situation? What do I know? Nothing.

Sure, there are things that I would love to comment on. Like when friends let their infants watch TV. Or when iPads become the main focus of a child’s education. I have feelings about public school, just like a lot of people have feelings about the fact that we homeschool. And of breastfeeding. And of diet and exercise. And of a lot of things – we all have ideas on what we think is best for our families, as well as everyone (in some instances).

Do any of us have a right to call each other a bad anything for any of it, though?

Even the child support service people don’t call the parents they have the misfortune of interacting with “bad.” At least I don’t think so. Today I heard them give the mother of those two, poor children her card and said she hoped this would be resolved soon. Beyond that, it isn’t their judgment call to make – they are simply enforcing rules and doing their jobs.

But when I turned to Facebook to ask my blog followers if they have ever been called bad parents, or told how to be a parent, I got a resounding YES – to my utter shock and horror.

I don’t have kids. However. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I shouldn’t because I would be awful at it.

Well, my SIL tells everyone BUT me, LOL!

My son’s donor tells me that all the time.

Oh hell yes I’ve been told I suck as a mom, by my stepmother.

Both directly and indirectly.  People will use your insecurities as a parent against you and to make themselves feel better about their short comings in their own situations.

My MIL said I was a bad mom and I neglected my child- because I didn’t bathe him 24/7 and I let him out of the house with unbrushed hair. He was 3.

I was a bad mother for homeschooling my son, for allowing him to roam the neighborhood without watching him every second of the day (or even knowing which of 3 possible streets he was actually on at any given time), for not allowing him to get a job while in school so he could focus on his grades, for refusing to medicate him as a kindergartner so he could stay in school…

Someone who was supposed to be my best friend sat and told me my son needed to talk to a psychologist because he was displaying behavior any typical 7-8 year old boy would display.

What the fuck? That’s what you should be thinking. I still am.

Now if Child Protective Services comes knocking on your door, that’s one thing. Maybe then it’s time to start evaluating – with your partner, if you have one; or any close and trusted people – how you are running the show. It still doesn’t mean you are a bad mother, though. It just means you may need more guidance or support, or to change some habits that are not in the best interest of your children.

But if anyone else – mom, dad, grandma, mother in law, sister in law, friends, cousins, strangers – tries to tell you how to be a parent, what you are doing wrong as a parent, or – God help them – that you are a bad parent, there is one thing and one thing only that you should do:

Tell them to shove it up their ass. Sideways. With a pitchfork to get it in their real good.

No seriously. No one has a right to say anything to you about your parenting, just as no one has a right to say anything to me. We are all in this together, whether anyone realizes it or not. But that doesn’t mean we are in this together, like we can tell each other what to do.

It means we are supposed to be supportive of each other. That’s it.

We are all entitled to our opinions, but opinions are like assholes. Just like I don’t want your asshole wide open in my presence, your mouth and the opinions that fly out of it should stay shut too.

To my mother and anyone else that thinks I’m a bad mom: shove it up your ass. Sideways. With a pitchfork to get it in their real good. To the rest of you: you are good mothers. You are good parents. No matter what happens, I know that your intentions are only in the best interest of your children. We may disagree on this or that aspect of parenting, but that we love our kids is the foundation we must look to in reminding ourselves that we are doing at least something right.

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12 Comments on “What You Should Do The Next Time Someone Calls You A Bad Mom

  1. My boyfriend told me the other day that I was a bad mom because I am too permissive and that it “disgusts” him. He doesn’t have kids. I have five, three of which are successfully raised to be good people. That is such a hard thing to hear from someone who is supposed to love you. I think it will probably be the thing that ruins our otherwise pretty perfect relationship.

  2. I had a less than pleasant month long vacation at my In-laws due to my MIL. When I asked her afterwards why she was so mad and rude to me all month she proceeded to tell me all the terrible parenting I had done, not only am I a bad mom, I am also a bad wife according to her! I’d love to help her shove that pitchfork up there.

  3. Thank you for this. My mom called me a bad parent and told me I was raising my children to be brats. She’s never spoken to me in such an unkind way before so it really has stung. It’s been over two months and I still cry almost every day.

  4. Thanks. Just had the worst comment from my former FIL about my son. Your advice is so on point. His comment has more to say about himself than me.

  5. I let my teenage boy throw a party at the house and the neighbors called the cops. So I was telling my friend about the cops coming to the house and she told me I was a “Shitty” parent. I said constructive criticism is welcomed, but there is a difference between being mean and hurtful, and a conservative criticism. I don’t know what to do since she’s my friend but my feelings are really hurt. I told them her that I do my best and that I didn’t feel like talking to her anymore. Am I being overly sensitive?

  6. I’ve been told three times in one week by complete strangers. The first time a lady got out of her car and started banging on my car telling me that I was a bad mother because my daughter wasn’t buckled in the car seat, she was but it was just a lap belt because that was all the car had. Second was when my daughter decided that she didn’t want to brush her hair, just running down to the post office I didn’t see a problem with that since we weren’t going to be gone that long and weren’t going anywhere else. Last time was today at Starbucks. I dressed my daughter in capris and a rain coat since it was raining and the lady behind me was making her comments about how bad of a parent I was because I let my kid out of the house in something other than pants on a cold and rainy day. I thought I was doing good since I know my pant legs always get wet when it is raining and if she had the longer capris this shouldn’t have been a problem. Well it wasn’t for me but it sure was to the lady behind me.
    Thanks for posting your stories and showing how you handled it.

  7. Thank you. One of my very closest friends today told me I was a fuck up with my teenage daughter. I threw her out of my space so I didnt do anything I might regret. She sent me a text apologizing and admitting what she did was uncalled for. I haven’t responded because I am so damn mad. I decided to Google the question of how to react to this situation and I found your blog. I still haven’t responded I think I need to cool off before I do but this just validates everything for me. She has no right to judge me I don’t call her a fuck up as a parent. Thank you so much for your thoughts it is helping me deal with this.

  8. SO true! As parents, we feel bad enough about our own pitfalls and mistakes even without the judging eyes and scathing comments directed at our doing-the-best-we-can parenting. I quit judging long ago (and I’m an older mom with a few years of experience and bad decisions under my belt) and continue to mind my own business. The only business I care about is raising my kiddos into young adults who are kind, compassionate, independent and passionate about being who they are. I ain’t perfect, but they know that they are loved.
    Thanks for delivering a valuable message! Love your stuff 🙂

  9. I don’t think anyone has the right to judge a mother or father’s parenting style. They do not know the children as well. They do not know their habits. They do not know what works for them or what irritates them or the oddball things that make them giggle & smile. No one should experience this! Have all the babies you want! lol.

    ❤ Carsla
    Founder & CEO of Connect-the-Cloths
    http://www.connect-the-cloths.com
    A stylist, foodie, & writer's blog in development.

  10. My theory is that until you’ve walked a mile in that parent’s shoes, don’t judge. Sure, you can think “I’d never raise my child that way,” but maybe that’s because she isn’t raising your child. Everyone’s situation is different and sometimes we have to do what’s necessary to get by even if it doesn’t fit others perception of what a good parent is.

  11. Thanks! Hardest part about being human is judging others all the time and as a mom we want to judge other moms on how they even wipe their kids asses and what wipes they use. But what makes a good mom and human is when those things are said to you the first thing you don’t do is lash back and say well what room you have to talk and point out your judgements on them 🙂 Your a great mom don’t even fret about it! Our mothers are our biggest critics and wow do we have words about they raise us!!

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