We’re all guilty of moments of parenting judgment. Sometimes it’s giving a disapproving glance to the mom who is surfing her phone at the park instead of pushing a child on the swings. Other times, it’s really just parenting judgment because another mom dares to do something differently than we do. For the most part, parenting judgment can lead to conversation. Instead of condemnation, asking a mom why she does things the way she does instead of flinging barbs is a much kinder thing.
Norton is three. He’s becoming increasingly difficult as he wants to establish his own autonomy. When he does things, he doesn’t even consider if I’ll find it difficult or otherwise. It’s not even on his radar. I admit that I don’t always handle things perfectly, particularly when he laughs as I reprimand him. There are other things that, while annoying, are worthy of a grumble and nothing more. Case in point: Norton fell asleep on the couch. He woke up in a puddle. Instead of saying anything, he covered it with a blanket. It smelled horrid. While asking some moms online for tips on how to deskunk my couch after the Bissel Spot Bot machine failing me, I referred to my son as a douche.
True fact: I have no issues with referring to my son as a douche because that word, to me, is right in line with “jerk.” Someone decided that it was appropriate to tell me that typing “douche” about my son in an online group when he can’t even read is “abusive.” Yes, she decided that I was a horrid parent because she disagreed with word choice. (In fact, she had the nerve to suggest that I call him “turkey.” That’s something that makes me cringe. I don’t call my children food names because I don’t eat my young. And, really, it’s still name calling.) I ripped her up one side and down the other. How dare she? Who did she think she was? I left my disgust over her presumptions up with a notice that in fifteen minutes I was blocking her because, quite frankly, I don’t want to even know someone who will go nuts with parenting judgment over a disagreement in word choice.
As an aside, my son was not punished in any way, shape or form for peeing on the couch. Whatever. Little kids are messy things that break things and make noise. They pee on things when they are housebreaking. There are a lot of responses that one could have had to the couch pee that would have deserved the label of “abusive,” but referring to him as a douche in a Facebook group is far from one of them.
That’s not the only instance of parenting judgment I’ve seen that involved throwing around the word “abuse.” Another blog I’d come across recently suggested that it was child abuse to pierce a kid’s ears. I don’t pierce my daughter’s ears, and they won’t be pierced until she’s old enough to ask for it. But abuse? No.
There’s a problem with throwing around “abuse” so casually. Child abuse is a horrible, horrendous thing. It can take on many forms. It can leave long lasting scars, both physical and psychological. For parents to vent away from their children is not abuse. For parents to pierce ears (especially when you consider that it’s sometimes done for cultural reasons) is not abuse. By using “abuse” to mean “anything that I don’t agree with” dilutes the power of the word. It cheapens the word to mean nothing.
I’ll cast some parenting judgment right now myself: it is absolutely stupid and offensive to use “abuse” in that manner. Have you ever come across someone using the word “abuse” in that manner? How did you handle it?