Well, after nearly two years of not-very-in-depth but definitely experiential research, I have reached a conclusion. I can now name the most judgmental group of people I have ever encountered...and perhaps that group will surprise you...drumroll....
I am going to start this post by saying that I am the president of the Judgmental Mom club and I am directing my remarks as much at myself as anyone else, so your finger can point right at me and I will not - cannot - argue or defend myself.
Is there any one group of people that is more bent on sizing each other up and drawing swords - yet more in need of encouragement - than any other? The battle lines are endless, they criss-cross, connect, zig-zag - they're all over the map. Just like our thoughts and emotions. It's a mess. The homebirth moms vs. the medically-mediated-birth moms. The Babywise moms vs. Attachment Parents. Co-sleepers vs. Ferberizers. Vax vs. no-vax. Breastfeeders vs. formula. EXTENDED breastfeeders vs. those who quit before or at a year. Discipline methods. Food choices. Home schooling or public? Dating, courting, or "dourting?" Curfews. College or no college. We have thoughts, opinions, and blog posts to splash on Facebook to back up our views, from celebrities, pastors, and "mommy blogs."
Let's just get it all out in the open that we ALL feel insecure, like bumbling fools with these tender little hearts to raise, and we don't have a clue. We all wake up some mornings and think, How am I going to do this again today? It's fun to post pictures of our pudgy babies and silly kids on blogs and Facebook, but the reality is that having your hand at the plow to your child's heart is work, more work than you ever believed, and you'd sure like to see someone doing it worse than you, because it makes you feel a whole lot better about the ludicrous act you feel like you're pulling sometimes.
I read a post recently that gave me the encouragement AND conviction I needed (it's a shorty, I highly recommend checking it out). And that post is the springboard for the following thoughts and reality checks -
1. Christ gave us freedom in our decisions (Romans 14:16). All of our arguments and stances and positions are preferences - and yes, many of them are backed up by much research and there are clearly some things that are better than others - BUT - they are still decisions we can freely make when we want to do what's best for our families. It becomes a problem, as the author of the blog post sagely pointed out, when we use our preferences and decisions to build a fortress around ourselves inside which only those who have made the same decisions are welcome - and deem everyone else around us ignorant and stupid.
2. The condition of our child's heart and soul are the most important (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Obviously, diet and education and reading to your kids and bonding and loving and adapting good sleep habits and all that are terribly important. But let's not construct idols while we're doing these things. God has a LOT to tell us in His Word about parenting...and it's all in the context of raising wise and discerning people (just about every verse in Proverbs), children who love Him and His law (Psalm 1), and who keep their way pure by guarding it according to His Word (Psalm 119). And even then we have no guarantee. You can do flashcards from sunup to sundown with your kiddo, and he may never be ahead of the other kids in reading. And you can instruct and train your child's heart and they may still rebel. Adam and Eve rebelled and they had the perfect Father and the perfect environment. Our kids will make their own choices no matter HOW hard we try to keep their feet from going to the left or to the right.
3. The Lord hates haughty eyes (Proverbs 6:17). There is simply no room for any of us to look down on each other for how we discipline (obviously I am not excusing abuse, I assume I don't really need to clarify that), what we feed our families, whether or not we vaccinate, etc. This comes down to a pride issue and there's no room for that in our relationships.
4. The opposite of judgment is encouragement (Ephesians 4:29). A huge shout-out to my neighbor, Tab Wolters, for coining this very profound and simple truth!! We moms (women in general!!) need to encourage each other at every opportunity!!! In agreement or disagreement, the bottom line is we love our kids and would die for them. We make decisions for them that we truly believe is best. Whether we feed them green smoothies or milkshakes from McDonald's, we just plain love 'em and can't believe they've been entrusted to our care.
So join me in laying it down, ladies. :)