Why do some mothers make life harder by imposing their choices on other mothers?

Why do some mothers criticize one another over the littlest of things? Whether she is a young mother who forgot to cover the baby’s head while getting out of a car or an older mother who is trying to breast feed her child in public, there is always some comment from afar. “Why doesn’t she cover the baby’s head, that’s why her child will be sick? Does she have to breastfeed here they should make it a law not to?” The self-righteous mother acts as if she has been able to get everything right the first time.

You may have decided to return back to work within six weeks after you had your baby and I may have chosen to stay at home. You may have decided to quit your job and allow your husband to take care of you. I may have stayed at my job, divorced my husband, and gave him custody of the children. Whatever our situations, why is it that mothers are critical of one another? “She should have kept her children. Why would she return back to work so soon after having a baby? If I was her I would find a man that made more money. After what he did to me, I would have taken the children and he would never be able to find us.” Chances are everything that these mothers comment about, if placed in a similar situation, they wouldn’t even take their own advice. So why is it that some mothers are so hard on other mothers? Because they feel they have a right to be.

Some women feel because they have crossed that threshold into motherhood and did well accepting their roles, they have appointed themselves as an authority on what other mothers should do or say when it comes to handling family matters. The truth is that in order to get to a place of comfort in their lives, they had to make many terrible mistakes to get there and rather than be honest and say, “Yes, I have been there and done that and I don’t want you to make the same mistake,” they will criticize other mothers to cover up their own shortcomings. They are fearful that if they advise rather than be critical that they would have to reveal too much of themselves. Therefore, putting their choices under the same scrutiny that they give to other mothers—of course they don’t want to do that! Other mothers are critical because they are envious. For example, they may wish that they had enough courage to return back to work so soon after having a baby or been strong enough to let their sons or daughters live with their father.

The mother who has no life outside of the family home seems to be the biggest gossip in my experience. She doesn’t have enough to do to stay off the phone or out of someone else’s home. She always seems to find the time to update everyone on the latest happenings in the family and in the community never bothering to leave out her negative personal opinion. Her mouth often gets her into a lot of trouble. “Did you hear that our neighbor’s son is in jail, you know if that were my son…? The paramedics had to take the man up the street to the hospital, I think it was because of all that drinking he got sick. He shouldn’t have been doing it in front of his children. Did you know that our friend just lost her children? She should have, she was always out partying.” However, the part that the gossip tends to leave out is her life experience. She chooses not to divulge how she had been physically, mentally or verbally abused by her husband in front of the children and she allowed it. She fails to mention how she has few friends, because she can’t seem to keep her mouth closed long enough to get any. Finally, and the most important of all, is she doesn’t want you to know how she has failed as a mother. Her children will tell you that they don’t like their mother for various reasons including her being critical of their life choices. Although this is an example, it is very real for some mothers who are trying to be good mothers, but along comes some gossip mother type who thinks she has it all figured out on what constitutes “a good mother” and to hell with the rest of us who may fall short of her expectations.

I can see why some women don’t have good relationships with their own mothers, mother-in-laws, motherhood groups, their church and other people and organizations that are suppose to provide support to mothers. The criticism can be overwhelming and if you are not content in your role as mother, these people can say and do things that can break you down mentally. Unfortunately, this happens all too often to some mothers who come from these meetings. They are crying to their husbands, complaining to relatives or praying to God somewhere alone. They are trying very hard to be the mother who can cook, clean, work, care for the husband and children, attend church regularly, keep up with the doctor’s appointments, the afterschool functions, organize the holiday celebrations and much more and despite all their efforts it is never good enough. There will always be some mother who will have something negative to say, “There weren’t enough things for the children to do at the last function. How come we never see your children at the meeting? You know that is not how we do it. It’s a family tradition…you should…you need to…you ought to…”
How about mothers, who are trying real hard to be good mothers, stop venting to their husbands, relatives and friends about their frustrations with other mothers? Instead, set the record straight the minute these critical mothers want to verbally assault you behind your back, you tell them to their face, “This is my function…this is my house…these are my children…and I am doing the best I can for what I know, how about you just sit back and keep your mouth shut!” As I write, I think about the mothers who rather keep quiet and let God handle matters and to that I say, even Jesus had to speak up sometime for what is right. Start praying that the Lord will give you the courage to speak up in his time not during times you think may not be right. Too often, we assume that every special occasion is not the right time to say anything, but sometimes these mothers hide behind the “this is not the right time” excuse to get away with doing things to hurt you, don’t let it happen to you. Although you may not get these critical mothers to keep quiet about you, you will have taken a stand, and let them know that you can’t and will not be bullied. If you don’t stand up for your role as mother who will?

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Over 20 years office work experience, six years completed college coursework, background in print media and communications, recognized for exceptional attendance and received merit increase for past job performance, self-published author and part-time entrepreneur, Internet marketing and social media experience. Interned for non-profit organization, women's group and community service business. Additional experience: teaching/training others, customer service and sales. Learn more at Nicholl McGuire and Nicholl McGuire Media

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