"Am I a Good Enough Mom?"
By Ylonda Gault Caviness
You bet you are. And don't let anyone tell you different. Here's how to
deflect anyone who tries to steal your mommy mojo.
When we first caught each other's gaze, the older woman gave me a tender,
knowing smile. I guess I was awash in that bleary-eyed, new-mother glow. Or
maybe it was my unhurried, aimless push of the stroller that signaled I was new
at this mom thing. How kind of her to offer a reassuring gesture, I
thought. The gentle lady came closer, peeking into the carriage. Suddenly, all
sweetness faded. She glared at me and scolded: "No hat? That baby is going
to catch her death of cold!"
I was mortified. In my heart, I know I shouldn't have let it bother me. But
in my head, dueling emotional responses ranged from defiance — Who does that
crotchety bat think she is? — to defeat — Maybe I'm not old enough, wise
enough, or good enough to mother my child the right way.
By now, with three kids in tow, I've weathered just about every meddlesome
opinion, disapproving eye, and outright countermand you can imagine from what I
call the Parenting Peanut Gallery: the folks in your life who sit on the
sidelines and heckle you with child-rearing judgments — or, even worse, flout
your mom rules and policies behind your back — with no regard for your feelings
While these digs don't leave visible scarring, they can undercut your
natural mothering instincts and leave you plain old fighting mad. "There is
no shortage of people ready to pick apart your parenting skills," says
Michele Borba, author of 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. "It can
be hurtful, but when you let them shake your confidence in who you are as a
mom, that's when the real damage is done."
The secret to being a great mother is believing in yourself. And one of the
best ways to do that is to silence that Parenting Peanut Gallery, once and for
all. Here's how:
Stand up for yourself.
Address criticism as soon as it happens, so you don't hold in your anger and
let it fester. "We women spend a lot of time questioning whether something
should or shouldn't make us angry instead of confronting our true
feelings," says Borba. "Don't be rude, but let a criticizer know
they've crossed a line."
It took many hits for me to finally figure out that in order to feel
confident about my parenting, I had to put busybodies in their place. With my
firstborn, I often let an off-the-cuff remark from an uppity mom on the
playground go seemingly unnoticed, so as not to make a scene. But afterward,
I'd be burning up inside. Nowadays, I don't let people get away with offering
up annoying advice, and I've managed to come up with some pretty witty retorts.
Recently, a nanny at the playground said to me rather haughtily, "Hot sauce
will get your son to stop sucking his fingers." I forced a smile and
answered: "Thanks. He's not yet 2, but if he's still sucking them at 22,
I'll take you up on that."
Not so quick with a comeback? Bria Simpson, author of The Balanced Mom:
Raising Your Kids Without Losing Yourself, suggests using this easy script:
"I know you have different ideas about parenting. I respect yours and I
need you to respect mine."