The Blog

No Judgment Day: When Parents Forgive Themselves

Parents are passing judgement alright, but not on each other. We are too busy criticizing ourselves.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Don't judge me. Especially not today.

I am doing a good enough job of judging myself.

That is what leaps out of the results of a new survey run by HuffPost Parents and Redbook Magazine, for this, the second annual "No Judgment Day".

Redbook invented the day last year, and describes it as "a 24-hour ceasefire of mom-on-mom criticism." As it turns out though, mom-on-mom is not the real problem. While parenting shorthand tends to divide us by broad strokes -- Tiger Mom vs. Free-range mom vs. Mayim Biyalik vs. Alicia Silverstone -- the data shows that parents are passing judgment alright, but not on each other. We are too busy criticizing ourselves.

Take the skirmishes this past year over whether working mothers feel supported in the workplace. Across the generations -- Boomers, Gens X and Y -- a majority of women said they don't question their choices to work, or not. And they don't worry that they are short-changing that work -- 60.4% of 25-47 year-old women said they've never or rarely worried about not being dedicated enough at work, while 74.3% of Baby Boomer women say that.

So what ARE we conflicted about? Here's a taste:

  • 92.4% of 25-47 year-old women say they've felt anxious about having people over because the house isn't as clean as they like.

  • Almost all women feel the pressure to exercise or be in better shape. Nearly half of 25- to 47-year-olds say they feel this pressure "often" or "always."
  • 83% of 25- to 47-year-old women say they've worried that they've let themselves go compared to other moms.
  • 93.4% of Gen X/Y women have put aside sleep to make time for other priorities. 95% of Boomers have, too.
  • In other words, the pressure comes less from others judging us than from our fear that they will. Which is really another way of judging ourselves. We believe there is "perfect" standard out there, and we don't measure up. So we exhaust ourselves trying to live up to an illusion.

    And we ARE exhausted. Most of us say we feel that way "all the time" and fear we can "never keep up." Yet, 91 percent of Gens X and Y and 89 percent of Boomers say they have felt they just can't ask for help. That would be an admission that we aren't perfect and can't handle everything on our plate. And helpless is not the way we want to be -- or be seen.

    Which leads to what this day should really be about. Not softening your view of other parents, because really, you are too tired to be spending much energy on that anyway. But softening your view of yourself.

    Take something off your plate. Forgive yourself for a long-standing "imperfection" and vow never to berate yourself again. (I will go first: The baby is 18, this is no longer "baby weight." I will never again lecture myself for not losing it.)

    Most of all, commit to asking someone for a hand. That is truly the only way to break the cycle of judgement -- letting others see our flaws, so that they are free to reveal theirs.

    See more results of the survey here. Then, fill in the blank "Don't judge me because ________" and tweet your answers with #nojudgmentday. We'll collect them all into a most forgiving slideshow right here.

    Survey data collected from 2,085 mothers ages 25-66 using SurveyMonkey Audience.