Moms are always in the spotlight and often targets of criticism.
Whether it’s whispered under their breath or shouted on national TV, people have no problem with voicing their opinions about a mother’s parenting choices. Everything from what she feeds her kids to what types of diapers she chooses to her decision to work outside the home is fair game. In fact a national survey of moms shows that they feel more scrutiny than ever.
The survey, conducted by Mom Central, found that 95 percent of moms feel negatively judged on their parenting decisions. The online survey, which included responses from more than 1,100 moms with at least one child under five years of age, found that moms feel most judged on decisions related to parenting approaches, work and infant feeding. Moms also feel judged for “being too strict” and for “spoiling” their kids.
As a father, I don’t feel this type of pressure and I think it has a lot to do with expectations. For some reason, dads are still not seen as involved parents. If you watch TV, images of the bumbling dad who can’t change a diaper or feed a baby are prevalent. Instead of judgment, hapless dads deserve pity.
The area where dads are judged the most has nothing to do with actual hands-on parenting. Instead it has to do with career choices. There’s always that uncomfortable moment when two men meet and one asks the inevitable question, “What do you do?” Depending on your answer, you can get the approving head-nod or the judgmental, “Oh, okay…”
Traditionally, fathers have been expected to be the providers and breadwinners. Men who are under-employed or unemployed face the wrath of those who will not only question his manhood, but also his ability to be a good father.
Men who stay at home with the kids while their wives work, face a different set of challenges. I have some friends who have chosen this arrangement and they constantly have to defend their decision. The funny thing is that people are rarely judgmental about their parenting abilities. In fact, they find their commitment to their children to be quite nobel and applaud their efforts to be “Mr. Mom.” However, many people cannot come to terms with this reversal of gender roles and inadvertently or blatantly hurl judgmental statements such as, “When are you going back to work?” or “I guess we know who wears the pants in that household.” A few years ago, a pastor preached a sermon proclaiming that stay-at-home dads were going to Hell. In his mind, eternal damnation was a fitting punishment for men who cared for the kids instead of working a 9-to-5 job.
Regardless of what you do as a parent, you can never please everyone. There’s always some willing to judge your decisions and abilities. The only thing you can do to deflect the criticism is to trust your instincts and ignore the naysayers. Your family’s opinion is the only one that really matters.
Question: Do you think dads are judged as much as moms are?