I was inspired to write this after seeing a recent article about the World Health Organization revising “screen time” guidelines for kids as part of an overall update to their “guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under
5 years of age“. As of 2019, the new guidelines are: No screen time for kids under age 2, and just 1 hour maximum per day for 3 and 4-year-olds.
Okay. I try not to let my kids veg out in front of the TV all day, but sometimes I just need to keep my older child occupied while I make dinner or take care of her baby brother. And I know I’m not alone in allowing my children to watch TV.
But apparently that’s a sign of failure. How do I know? I read the comments on that news article. I know, never read the comments. But the responses I saw were mostly of the “of course MY kids don’t watch TV, I’m raising them right” variety. As if to imply that any parent who lets their kids watch tv or use tablets is just not trying hard enough. That if you’re an actual “good parent” your kids will be disciplined enough to not need a video or game to keep themselves occupied.
This recent post from Chief Mom Officer also hit on a similar vein. There’s so much pressure for us to do everything exactly the “right” way all the time, whether it’s in parenting or personal finance.
Both of these got me thinking about how judgmental we can be of others in different situations. I see lots of people suggest that poor people should merely “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” (ignoring just how ridiculous that is). They point out “if I can succeed, then so can you”, that the only thing standing between you and massive success is if only you tried harder.
And of course this isn’t true. Everyone has different challenges and circumstances, and we can’t assume everyone will make it without extra help and support. And the same is true for parenting. These days we have “mommy wars” or “mom shaming”, pitting breastfeeding against formula feeding, stay at home moms against moms working full time, even comparing the “right way” to give birth! Then every decision along the way, we are somehow expected to be perfect: clean house, elaborate parties, well behaved children.
And others judge with something like “I was able to do this while also doing that” (working full time while also preparing healthy meals and keeping a clean house; survive a weekend alone with the kids without letting them watch any TV).
I’m sick of this constant judging. Just because something came easy for you, doesn’t mean it will be easy for everyone else.
Let’s stop the poor-shaming, the mom-shaming…let’s stop shaming people already!