I was discussing the sanctimommy phenomena and the judging I’ve been subjected to in person with my aunt, who often sees through an action and figures out the heart of the issue.
Take for example, the typical sanctimommy, she has a couple of kids and a husband, a traditional family. She often stays at home, and she feels she has done her “research” and knows what is best for her kids. So she spends her time helecoptering around them, interfering with their arguments, making sure they do what they are supposed to, eat only the finest organic foods, breastfeeds her baby until the child is a toddler, spends time with other sanctimommies in play groups or mommy groups, talks mostly of her children or her husband or a practical hobby she shares with other sanctimommies. She researches daily what other sanctimommies are doing that they feel is best for their child and the environment of one-upmanship begins. So she is a constant cycle of figuring out the next best thing for her children while being completely exhausted by what she is currently trying to do. Not to mention that she has to make sure to look good and not let anyone know that she is exhausted.
But, she is a mom. She is exhausted. No matter how we choose to parent our children, we are tired. And her perhaps even more so because she has to live up to the expectations of the other similar mothers.
And then one evening she goes out, and she meets someone decidedly skepparent. Someone who lets her children regulate themselves. Who doesn’t feel the need for a certain amount of children. Who isn’t afraid to let her children out of her sight because she knows the environment and knows her children and what they can handle. Who has allowed her children to learn independence carefully and within boundaries. Whose children, even despite these “unideal” circumstances, are extremely well behaved, and do regulate themselves as expected. And it is just so unheard of in the sanctimommy world that she can’t fathom it, and she just HAS to say something. And when the skepparent reiterates her unconcern with the sanctimommy philosophy, well, that must be rather threatening!
After all, you’ve been raising your children a certain way and exhausting yourself with varying results, and here before you sits a woman who knows her children so well she is unconcerned about all the research you have done.
Are any of the actions of the sanctimommy or the skepparent inherently wrong? Is breastfeeding to the age of 2 (or 3 or 4) wrong? Is feeding your child organic food wrong? Is letting your child regulate herself wrong? No. It is the nature in which they are being done. The problem ends up being the one-upmanship environment, the sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice rather than for the sake of the children. The buying into certain behaviors just because other sanctimoms are doing it.
Just as a sanctimommy will feel threatened by other sanctimommies who are parenting in a more extreme manner than she is, she will feel threatened by the skepparent. But, if you skepparent, doing your own research and listening to your childs cues, you have confidence in your parenting. Does this mean that you stop asking advice or listening to constructive critisicm? No, but it does help you weed out the constructive from the judgemental. And that gives you way more freedom and energy than you will get by exhausting yourself worrying about what other mothers think.