'If you can't say something nice': 7 awesome responses to mom judging

/ Source: TODAY

The "Mom Judging" challenge on our TODAY Parenting Team is sponsored by Similac's Sisterhood of Motherhood.

Judging happens.

Sometimes it’s unavoidable. Sometimes it’s soul-destroying. When it happens — and when you’re on the receiving end of it — how can you respond? How do you hope people who know you might respond?

In our latest challenge to the TODAY Parenting Team, we asked contributors to weigh in on the issue of "mom judging." A number of insightful posts zeroed in on ways to respond, both internally and externally, when judgment comes a-calling. Some posts had pleasant plot twists: For instance, one mom felt convinced she was being criticized, when in fact she was getting nothing but support.

What experiences have you had in this area of life? Please let us know! Feel free to join in this ongoing conversation by becoming a member of our team, and stay connected to TODAY Parents updates on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear your stories!

For now, please enjoy these seven awesome responses to mom judging:

Response number 1: ‘Everyone is doing the best they can.’ (Maureen S.)

The mom who let this little boy get this covered in sand is doing the best she can (AND she's letting her son have a blast)!Courtesy of Lisa Maxwell

“Repeat After Me. Ready? ‘Everyone is doing the best they can.’ Now say it over and over until you actually believe it. Because I believe it and it is my creed. Especially when it comes to parenting. Yes, there are the extreme parents that are neglectful or smothering but most days, most ways everyone is gritting it out just like you and me. The mother I see impulsively swat her child’s bottom in public may have just lost her job and will agonize for hours later about that one moment and whether it will scar her child. The boy who runs out in the road while his mother chats could be our child on any given day. Everyone is distracted at some point and it is luck that determines the outcome of any momentary lapse. ... There are countless scenarios with myriad explanations that are not readily apparent to us, but, moreover, are none of our business. If any one of us is so perfect as to be judgmental of another, then please step forward and share your wisdom. Graciously. Because, deep down, we all want to be the best we can be in parenting and in life.”

Response number 2: That person’s judgment has nothing to do with me. (Danielle Campoamor)

"When I look at the judgmental mom, I see love. I know that, like me, her life changed the moment she held her child in her arms."Courtesy of Danielle Campoamor

“When I look at the judgmental mom, I see myself. Because the truth is, I have judged moms for their choices as well. Whether it be silently or in the comfort of my home or through shared looks with my partner, I have thought another mom's decision was wrong or unreasonable or unhealthy. We all have. And we have done so, not because we want to feel superior or knowledgeable or better equipped for the trail and tribulations only parenthood can provide, but because we're scared and in love and in constant self-doubt. ... So, next time you're in the grocery store or breastfeeding publicly or doing whatever it is that has left another mother judging you: Look at her. You might just see yourself and, when you do, you'll realize that her judgment has nothing to do with you.”

Response number 3: I know my kids, and my kids are happy. (Mom 4 Real)

"Why do we allow ourselves and our children to be judged on the amount of activities they are involved in? Shouldn't we all be glad to have happy, healthy children?"Courtesy of Mom 4 Real

“It seems like I've been asked the question, ‘What do your kids do?’ eight. billion. times. It happens every time I meet someone new and they find out I have children, it happens every time I bump in to someone I haven't seen for a few years, and it happens every time I have to fill out some sort of form about one of my kiddos. Bring on the pressure. How do I answer? Will I be judged? More importantly, will my children be judged? What's the right answer? ...

“Ask me how my kids are, not what they do! Because my answer may just be: ‘My kids do lots of things. They smile a lot, they sometimes sing loudly in the car, they love like nobody's business, they hang with their friends, they play a little golf, they watch movies and eat popcorn, they ride bikes and never eat their vegetables. My kids enjoy life. That's what my kids do.’”

Response number 4: Enough, already. No need to be mean! (Keeper of The Fruit Loops)

“High School Mean Girls grow up to be Mommy Mean Girls. And it SUCKS. ... (But) there’s ... one player who is noticeably absent from any Mom Bully situation. In fact, I’ve rarely come across one in real life and I’ve often not been brave enough to assume the role. She’s an urban legend, often less seen than the Loch Ness Monster or Sasquatch. She’s a rare gem, a brave soul who is willing to go to bat for her friends and for moms alike. She’s The Defender.

“The woman who says, ‘Stop it. I won’t listen to this any longer.’ The woman who looks the Mom Bully in the eye and says, ‘You’ve got it wrong. She’s my friend and I won’t have you say horrible things about her.’ The woman who realizes that words hurt, and at the end of the day, we are all just moms trying to do the very best we can.”

Response number 5: ‘Should up!’ (The Good Enuf Mommy)

Courtesy of The Good Enuf Mommy

“There are many things in the world of motherhood that we are told on a daily basis that we 'should' or 'should not' do. We are being 'shoulded' to death and frankly the unwarranted, unwelcome parenting advice from the peanut gallery is driving me a bit batty. ...

“The golden rule of mommyhood is that if no one asked you for your advice, it’s probably safe to assume it is unwelcome. Many moms reading this will think: But I’m just being helpful! But if they were just educated about their choices… The cold hard truth is that if you can’t respect the decisions of other mothers in your inner circle, your friendship is unlikely to last past your child’s first birthday. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and just ‘should up’!”

Response number 6: Many people have selective memories and limited understanding of the future. (Tove Maren)

Courtesy of Tove Maren

“I feel that other mothers with young/younger/youngish children are like foot soldiers on the front line with me. We stand neck to neck, sharing tight space in the trenches of motherhood. THOSE are the women I find to be mostly supportive, encouraging and empowering. We are living the same lives right here and right now. Although the finer details of our day may differ, we are still just trying to get to bedtime with our sanity intact. ...

“I find that some (NOT ALL) women who have ‘successfully’ raised their own children forget the gory details. All of a sudden they are the champions of motherhood simply because their children never teethed, got sick, had trouble in school, disrespected or melted down. Their adult children are every bit as perfect today as they were back then. And then there are the women who haven’t yet looked into the eyes of their newborn child. To those women I say, ‘Come see me when you need a supportive, non-judgmental friend after your toddler has had back to back meltdowns in the grocery store and in the mall. I will be waiting right over here!’”

Response number 7: Thank you for surprising me with kindness. (Amy Rowland)

"I couldn't just ditch the cart full of groceries and come back another time. ... With four little kids under the age of 6, I can't 'just' come back later. We barely made it out of the car into the store successfully in the first place."Courtesy of Amy Rowland

“My patience was gone and the tantrum wasn't letting up after ten minutes. I was about at my wit’s end and then I heard your voice as my daughter paused to catch her breath. You said the five words all parents want to hear, ‘Hang in there, mama. You're doing a great job!’ What? Someone wasn't going to berate me, yet again, for not loving my child because I couldn't make him/her stop crying? I was honestly in shock! That was the first time someone encouraged me! Usually people stare judgingly at me when one (or more) of my four kids act like they just got stung by a bee in the middle of a store.

“I nearly started crying right there on the spot. I'll never get the chance to tell you just how much that meant to me. You told me you are a mom of four as well and that you do get it. Your words were so encouraging. They empowered me to win this toddler battle. I was able to remain calm (which hardly ever happens) and we worked through the fit shortly after you left. Your words got me thinking: perhaps we would all be better parents if we would just heed Thumper's father's advice (from Bambi): ‘If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all’!”

Follow TODAY.com writer Laura T. Coffey on Twitter @ltcoff and Google+.