Mommy Mafia

It seems mom’s are at each other these days. And I have an inkling that it roots back way further than “these days” and this current culture. Sin has always been an issue. And I think even “back in the days” (as our 6 year old refers to any year that exists before she was born), mom’s battled with one another, compared themselves with one-another, judged, pointed fingers and were just plain un-kind.

One thing we as Christian mom’s must be careful of while reflecting on the issue of comparison, is that feeling convictions about certain issues is not wrong. In fact, the Bible shows us that there is right and wrong and even in the parenting realm and other life issues, it is very clear as to what we are called to as believers. My husband and I happen to believe that the Bible speaks clearly about how to school your children, take care of yourselves nutritionally/physically, dwell with purpose, how to pick a Church, what worship styles are acceptable etc. Of course, we don’t waste our lives judging our other Christian friends who do things differently because that’s not the heart of the Gospel. But we do live according to Biblical conviction and we do so remembering that we are fallen, im-perfect and just as in need of the Gospel as the parents whom we happen not to agree with.

Within that realm of “clear” also comes the not-so-clear. These are the more gray areas where the mommy mafia starts rearing its’ ugly head. I’m not talking about having an “What I do is ok and what you do is ok” mindset here. I know plenty of moms who gain their security in this all-inclusive mindset  saying “this is my life and the way I do things and that’s your life and the way you do things and it’s all ok and we can be all happy together.” This is a feel-good theology on parenting.  Even amidst the grey areas, there is always the truth of God’s Word to fall back on.  And what we need to remember is that every single one of us moms is learning. Some are more mature, more experienced, more knowledgeable and such and others are just beginning the journey and neither is more significant than the other although we do see great benefit in God’s Word for the older (which is also translated more “mature”) to teach the younger.  We need to be humble enough to learn from other mom’s – even if they are “our age” but more experienced. That takes true humility. We need to humbly walk with each other with a teachable spirit and, as our parenting theology deepens, we walk with love alongside one other sharing in the beauty of all ages and stages of motherhood.

Jen Klein, author and professor of history at Yale University, writes the following article. Not sure if she is a believer nor not, but she’s on to something here. I find it really interesting and, for the most part, true. And to all of us Christian mother’s, let us walk in humility and love amongst one another. The road of motherhood is a beautiful thing. Turning that beauty into ashes by our own pride can be a devastating thing.

“C’mon, you’ve done it. You judged another mom on her choices, maybe even a close friend. You likely felt a little guilty about it — but the judgment was still there. The way moms — well, women in general but especially moms — judge one another is one of those dirty little secrets of mommy social structure, and it’s not so secret.
Being a mom is incredibly hard work, and there’s no way to be absolutely sure you are doing it right. Kids don’t come with instruction manuals and checklists. There is no annual performance review with incentive awards for successes and improvement plans for less-than-successes.
For many of us, it will be decades before we have a real sense of how we did as a mom.
Amid that incredible level of uncertainty in this oh-so-vital job, it’s no wonder we look to other moms for support, reassurance — and maybe some smug self-satisfaction.
Insecurity about our own efforts combined with the appearance (good or less-than-good) of others’ efforts makes conditions ripe for judgment and lashing out. Even among close friends, it’s easy to slide into this not-at-all productive dynamic — whether we want to admit it or not. Best friends or worst enemies — or both — the social dynamic among moms is a complicated, two-faced beast. It’s the “mommy mafia.”
Ah, yes, the mommy mafia. Enforcers of local social structures and norms and judgers of all who dare to do things differently. The mommy mafia can be brutal.
There’s a little bit of the mommy mafia in each of us. Throw in one or a dozen of the hot-button issues in parenting today, and it’s a potentially combustible situation — the makings of a mommy mafia turf war!
Working-outside-the-home or stay-at-home, breast or bottle, cloth diapers or disposable, organic or processed, public school or home school, or any one of a myriad of topics from pregnancy to adulthood.
You make your decisions and hope you got them right, but a friend or a “frenemy” makes a comment or gives you the stink-eye and you doubt your decisions all over again — or you’re the one making the comments or giving the eye to a mom who dared to do it differently from you.
When we have any kind of insecurity about our own parenting decisions, pointing fingers at the choices and parenting decisions of others is the easiest thing to do. It deflects attention from issues in our own parenting situation that might rightly need more personal thought and attention. Whether we are convinced that one way is the right way — or we are still trying to convince ourselves that our decision is the right one — it’s base insecurity that drives this lashing out, this mommy mafia on display.
The mommy mafia, however, is more about perception than anything else. The enforcers are real, but the basis on which we enforce is myth: the myth of the perfect mom, something none of us will attain.
Here’s the thing: We’re all figuring it out as we go along. Every last one of us. There is no single right way to parent and we all parent differently by necessity — and none of us are perfect. We all have a different set of circumstances, different strengths and weaknesses, and a different set of lenses through which we make decisions for ourselves and on behalf of our families. From the ones you have judged to the ones who have judged you, we’re all doing the best we can, imperfections and all.
And if we all did parent exactly the same way? Sure, the noise around parenting issues would be much quieter, but it would also be a much more boring world. But those differences don’t have to slide into mommy mafia turf, either. Learning to accept that we’re all different and imperfect as parents is hard, however, especially when we want so much to do a great job.
It starts with accepting ourselves and the choices we have made. We each make a set of choices based on our life, knowledge, resources, and the information before us. No two sets of circumstances are exactly the same either, even within the same family — and when you are making decisions for your family, the response of the local mommy mafia should be the last thing on your mind.
Once we get to personal acceptance, it’s a short hop to real support of one another as moms. Banish the mommy mafia and reject the turf wars. Be the best mom you can be, but accept your imperfections and just keep working at it. You’ll likely find you are more resilient and have less need to lash out — and that’s just plain good parenting.”