We’ve all heard about judgy mums. You know, the ones who have discovered the secret to perfect parenthood and are honour-bound to share it condescendingly with all in their immediate vicinity.
“We make all of our baby’s purees out of organic food.”
“Baby doesn’t eat purees – we are doing baby-led weaning as it promotes a healthier relationship to food.”
“It’s so much better for your connection with Baby to wear him; you should really try it.”
“Why are you still wearing your toddler? Shouldn’t he be walking on his own?”
“Time-outs are the best way to discipline your toddler. My toddler’s behaviour has improved dramatically with time-outs.”
“Time-outs are cruel punishment that make kids feel isolated and don’t teach them the correct behaviour. We would never do time-outs.”
“Breast is best, no matter the circumstances.”
The judgy mum and backlash against the judgy mum have been well documented (for example, here.) It’s tough to be a mother – there’s so much pressure to be perfect and it seems that the weight of this perfection falls solely on our shoulders. We agonize over each and every parenting decision and then feel guilty if we don’t measure up to someone else’s standards.
But what about the dads? Why should mothers be the only ones to carry the weight of perfection? Why are we the only aggressors and victims in the war of perfect parenting? Why are they called the “Mommy Wars?”
I’ll tell you a secret: judgy dads are out there too, and they’ve been flying under the radar this whole time. They’re free to spout their judgy judgment all over the place without fear of being labeled or judged themselves, because the judgy dad isn’t “a thing.” Yet.
I present for you snippets of a conversation I had with a dad I met last week at a parents and tots group.
On family size
Dad: How are you finding the adjustment to having two kids?
Me: It’s getting easier now, but honestly it was really tough in the beginning.
Dad: Yeah, I have three. The third was the hardest by far.
Dad: Do you have a garden at home?
Me: No, we don’t. Maybe another year.
Dad: You really should. It’s so good for the kids to eat vegetables that come right out of their own garden.
On picky eaters
Me: Bean tends to be a pretty picky eater. He won’t touch protein, unless it’s frozen chicken nuggets. I’d rather he ate the real food that I cook, but some nights I just need him to eat something and so we do nuggets.
Dad: We don’t do any kind of processed food in our house. I don’t want that stuff in my kids’ bodies.
Dad: I do all the cooking. The kids sit at the kitchen island and I get them involved, you know, smelling the spices that go into the food, that kind of thing. It makes them excited to eat it.
Me: That sounds like a good way to do it.
Dad: But, you know, my kids can be picky too. Like, some days they’ll eat pickled beets, and then the next day they only like beets that aren’t pickled.
Okay, I get it. Different things work for different people. But come on. If your kids will eat beets, pickled or otherwise, they’re probably not that picky (unless beets are all they will eat). This was a clear example of humblebragging. The dad was parading the examples of his spice-smelling, beet-eating kids as a reflection of his super-awesome parenting, all while judging my obvious inability to prepare healthy food for my own kids. But guess what? I try to get Bean involved when I cook too – it’s just that in my tiny, island-less kitchen there’s no space for the kids to sit docilely and watch as I whip up a delicious gourmet meal. It’s Bean, standing on a chair beside me at our cramped counter, and me, trying to keep him from touching knives and raw meat. (All while Monkey alternates screams of happiness, excitement and rage in the bouncer just outside the kitchen.) Bean is not the type of kid to be a spectator. He is in the action, all the way. For about 2 minutes, after which he has made a big mess and is no longer interested.
Suffice it to say, there are a thousand ways to do this whole parenting thing, and what works for one family may not work for another. Nobody can be perfect all the time, because there is no perfect.
So to the judgy dads out there, I say this. Judge all you like, but I’m on to you. The judgy dad is now officially a thing.