How to deal with judgemental mums
Ah, judgmental mums. You know the type: those mums out there who love to make themselves feel good by dropping in a critical comment about your parenting style.
These people are cunning with their veiled insults so it’s very difficult to take offence immediately, yet you come away feeling like crap and end up stewing on the remark for days or even weeks.
How does a bloke like me know so much about it? Well, my wife and her friends have all been victims of the dreaded 'judgemental mum' and her stinging comments. Here are some examples of the verbal slaps and what I wish I could’ve said … if only I had been there.
Food for thought
When my wife pulled out an oven-ready dinner option in front of a judgemental mum who was visiting her recently, the said mum reacted like her child would be force-fed arsenic when my wife kindly asked if they would like to stay for dinner. “Actually,” said Snarky Mum, “I think we’ll head home for dinner. My Oliver’s never eaten fish fingers.” My wife muttered, “Oh, ah, it’s just emergency food – we usually get groceries on Saturday.” And then desperately proceeded to healthy-up the offering with wholemeal pasta and broccoli.
Nice and obliging, but this is what I would have said: “Don’t worry, he’ll live - but if he’s really the delicate creature you’ve raised him to be, I can get Jamie Oliver round to steam little Ollie a bit of freshly caught wild salmon and place it lovingly on a bed of wholegrain rice and organic spinach.” She’d think twice about bagging our kiddy cuisine after that.
The tantrum tightrope
It had been a long day and one of my sister’s little treasures was having a meltdown in the supermarket. Of course, this is the time when Miss Perfect Mum (a friend of a friend, a mere acquaintance) came round the corner of aisle six and watched the nightmare unfold. “I’m so glad my Grace isn’t a problem child,” she said as my niece threw herself on the floor kicking and screaming. “She’s not normally like this,” my sister quickly replied, “She must be tired.”
Implying that this common tantrum was an indication of long-term behavioural difficulties was just plain nasty, so my response would have been a little less measured: “Oh, so you’d rather a child stay silent and did what you asked without question? Children should be seen and not heard, is that right? I want my children to be able to stand up for themselves and voice their opinions. In fact, I’m pretty darn tired and hungry now, too. You know what - I might get down on the floor myself and have a tantrum."
Working mum's woe
Being a full-time working mum and heading into an office five days a week is incredibly tough when you have children, so the last thing you need is a knife-twisting comment like this by Sanctimonious Stay-at-home Mum: “I could never leave my children all day like you do”. Cue guilt overload and a polite smile, because there really is not much you can say to that one.
Well, not if you want to remain polite, but why should you be nice and smiley to this guilt-monger? Here’s my suggested response: “We all have to make choices that are right for the family as a whole and we’re happy to both work and both spend quality time with the kids. Plus, we have enough money to go on nice holidays and save for our kids’ educations. What’s not to like about that?”
Baby gear blues
The competition starts even before your baby is born. All it took was an “I can’t believe you didn’t get a Bugaboo!” for my wife to start worrying that her bump would end up as a drug dealer because of the stroller we chose. “My husband preferred the more sturdy Mountain Buggy,” was all she could muster.
Personally, I don’t think I could have contained my annoyance at being browbeaten into spending silly money on a stroller that would last only about three years anyway. So … “Listen up, Mrs Equipment Snob - letting my newborn puke up in a stroller that’s almost as expensive as my car is just plain stupid. I’d rather endure the looks of pity from you stuck-up lot and have the last laugh when I see you furiously scrubbing the squished banana out of that precious Bugaboo!
Sleep deprived dig
My wife had matchsticks holding up her eyes and was falling asleep in her cappuccino as we sat in a cafe, so the comment that “My Emily slept through the night from six weeks old” didn’t exactly make her feel like Mother of the Year. “That’s great,” my wife said to her ‘friend’, before collapsing into a sleep-induced coma.
“Lies!” I would have yelled, standing up in the crowded café and pointing at Emily’s mum. “This woman is a liar everybody. Either you’ve got the memory of a goldfish or you’re so sleep-deprived you’ve slept through Emily’s cries! Kids aren’t good sleepers and I refuse to believe a single word you say after that. Oh … that rant has made me so tired … ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz.”
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This article was written by Tom Etherington for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz