Anel and I are jetting off to Bermuda today with Amalia for a quick Thanksgiving vacation with just the three of us. Today’s post was originally going to focus on what I’m feeling thankful for this year (and some early Black Friday deals) but I bet you anything you can guess what I’m thankful for and what stores I would be linking to! Something happened yesterday that made me decide last minute to write about another very important and timely topic: Empathy.
In my opinion, empathy is one of the most important qualities to have in order to be a good person. Understanding what another person is going through and feeling for them in a tough situation comes second nature to me (most of the time) and I credit a lot of that to my mother who taught me about empathy from a very young age.
But I’ve learned as an adult, that not everyone inherently feels empathy the way I do. The current political climate and recent midterm elections proved this to me even more. There are two very strong-minded sides of the aisle politically and people on each one thinks the other is bad, wrong, and/or evil. Myself included, by the way…
But then I posted an Instagram story about being kind to people with opposing views and had so many meaningful and incredible conversations with women who I don’t necessarily see eye to eye with.
I will probably never agree with them or their beliefs, but I could calmly talk to them and understand they they are good people even though we don’t necessarily want the same things for the world. That felt like a small win.
Motherhood and politics are similar in this way.
There are so many opposing views on how to raise your children, and everyone thinks that their way is the best way. But what I’m urging you to do this holiday season (and forever, really) is to open your ears, eyes, and hearts to other parents, listen to what they’re doing and, even if you don’t agree with it, empathize with it. You have no idea what they’re going through with their children on any given day. Every situation, every family is unique. So parenting styles will be unique. Obviously this doesn’t apply to anyone who verbally or physically abuses their kid in any way shape or form.
Last night I posted the photo above to Instagram with this as a caption:
“Tonight I was THAT mom. My child was fussy and teething and running around Target like a crazy person, but we decided to take her out to dinner anyway. It was a hot mess, she screamed and didn’t want to sit in the high chair and refused to eat anything. It wasn’t like her, and I knew it was just because she was tired and in pain but the people around us didn’t know that and gave us the dirtiest looks. It was so embarrassing but after a while I had to let it go and just do my best. It was a good reminder that we’re all just doing our best!”
Within an hour there was already a debate going on in the comments of the photo about whether or not it’s appropriate to take a fussy toddler out to dinner. Moms were getting really nasty to each other! And I felt so weird about it happening on my platform.
TBH, I’m torn on this topic and think it depends on the situation. I love a healthy argument or debate (just ask my husband) but I noticed that while most people were respectful in their arguments, I was shocked to see rude and judgey comments from other moms. I don’t know why this behavior surprises me anymore… Mom shaming is real and it’s rampant.
But in this day and age when there is so much hatred and unhealthy debate going on in the world, I like to think that we can make a difference on a small scale by simply being kind to each other. Express your opinion, please! I always encourage that. But do it in a way that doesn’t bring the person on the other side of the aisle down. Whether that aisle is democrat/republican or sleep training/attachment parenting.
This week is all about giving thanks. I feel thankful to live in a country where we have a democracy, even if it looks different than how I wish it looked. I’m thankful that you and I have the freedom of speech, and I hope that I can encourage and empower use that privilege in a positive way. Who’s with me?
Note added on 11/21: I had no idea that this post would strike a nerve with so many people! My intention was to spread kindness and positivity and not shut anyone down in any way. I don’t think I was clear in my original copy but I want to be clear now that the comments I was referring to were about how mothers were speaking to each other, not to me. I’m shutting down comments on this post for the rest of today and tomorrow not to keep anyone quiet but just so that I can enjoy my vacation for a few days. I hope that you understand! I’ll open commenting back up on Friday and encourage you to voice your opinions then. Much love from Bermuda xx
Notes added on 11/23: Comments are back open! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
I’m an attorney and prosecuted a lot of domestic battery cases where women were victims. I would try & load my jury up with women thinking they would be sympathetic to my victim. After I kept losing trials a coworker told to start loading the jury with men. He was right, women jurors were judging my victim (how could she be in that position, etc) whereas men jurors could never imagine a situation where they would strike a woman!
Women and especially moms judge each other the hardest when we should be lifting each other up & supporting each other!
Have a great thanksgiving and enjoy a Rum swizzle!
That is seriously fascinating. Women need to let go of our own shame and guilt so that we can stop judging others!
So fascinating. Thank you so for sharing this, Britta! And promise to enjoy a rum swizzle (or two) for you 🙂
I study law and I do respectful but earnestly disagree with you completely and there’s nothing wrong that, I do however understand that the human condition is based on judgements (both positive and negative) whether you’re a man or woman (gender shouldn’t even be a factor, I’ve grown tired of all that too honestly). Yes, happy Thanksgiving & hopefully we can all understand differenting opinions and be receptive to them.
Sometimes I think that bloggers think “mom shaming” is really just someone else’s point of view. I didn’t really see any shaming comments on your post yesterday but more so opinions. Quite frankly, I would’ve never taken my toddler to a restaurant had I already known she was having a rough time in target. But to each their own!
I agree 100%. I think it’s odd that you would stop in the middle of Target and have someone take a photo of you while your child is having a hard time, and not a great choice to go to a restaurant after that, knowing your child is in pain and cranky. However, to each his/her own and I’m not “mom shaming” you by having a different opinion or saying that I would have approached this situation differently. We can all learn from each other. As a blogger, you choose to put your life and life decisions out there in public so be prepared to receive negative feedback along with the positive. Not agreeing with someone doesn’t equate to a lack of empathy. I can have all the empathy in the world for you but still think you didn’t make a good decision.
agree with all of this.
I completely agree with both of these commenters. I read through the comments on your Instagram post and couldn’t really find any offensive comments, simply people who disagreed with your decision and expressed their disagreement in a constructive way.
For the record, as a mom, if my child was already fussy and clearly telling me they were uncomfortable, I would not then take them out to dinner. That seems to be the narrative of your post. If I took my son out to a restaurant and then he got fussy, that’s one thing, but if he’s already fussy prior to leaving then I would change my plans. I still can empathize, but I disagree.
I also completely disagree with your decision to share the photo of Amalia’s passport you put on your stories yesterday where you wrote on it “def could be a terrorist.” Are you serious?
I thought that was extremely odd as well. Some strange decision making that I wouldn’t necessarily agree with, but again, I’m not “mom shaming” for having a different opinion. If you ask me, the mom shaming is ironically coming from Julia directed at her readers and commenters on her post. Empathy is “second nature to her”, but clearly not to us, so we need to read the blog post in order to learn how to be better?
Agree with this entire thread.
Respectfully disagree. When people are posting comments claiming that they know what is best for a child instead of her own mother, that is mom shaming. (Not saying that your post is doing that but there were others on Instagram that claimed Julia was ignoring her daughter’s needs. How could they ever know that?) Plus, I get the feeling from other posts of people who saw her at Target and the restaurant that the behavior really was not that bad. Why do people assume the worst? Would you want Julia to tell you what your child needs? I get that posting on social media invites comments but the tone of many of the Instagram comments was needlessly harsh. Social media only gives part of the story and people need to think twice before rushing to judgement.
Julia, I think this post was well written and presented a balanced view. Thank you for your honesty and mature response. Enjoy your much deserved vacation!
Not a mom, but it reads as an interesting choice to have a stranger take a pic of an in progress meltdown. When I feel like I’M going to have a meltdown (we all have rough days) I get my stuff and get the heck home so I can recaliberate.
The tough part of putting your life online is that people are going to comment both positively and negatively. The latter doesn’t necessarily mean it’s shaming, it’s the same as getting feedback from a client, colleague, or boss in an office setting. True, people can be harsher when they don’t know someone personally, but I’ve had clients whom I do know personally be pretty damn rude.
Why would you assume it was a stranger taking her photo and not her husband?? I can’t.
It doesn’t really matter who took the pic-it’s the idea at all that it was a moment in which taking a pic seemed necessary. It’s my personal opinion that there isn’t a need for a pic of an in progress meltdown, and its ok for me to have said opinion. I wouldn’t want someone to take of me having a bad day either. It doesn’t make it shaming, just a differing opinion. Do I feel bad that Amalia had a meltdown? Sure, I’m certain no parent wants to have an upset child or be upset themselves.
Fair enough! I appreciate and respect your opinion, Wendy. Thank you for your honesty and for saying it in a respectful way!
Hi Wendy! Just wanted to clear up that it was my husband who snapped a shot as I was playing with our daughter because he thought it was cute. She was not melting down in that moment and wasn’t intended originally to be posted!
But I totally understand where you’re coming from, and I agree that criticism is good in many forms. I think I was unclear in my post because what was shocking to me was how moms were talking to each OTHER, not necessarily to me. I hope that makes sense and you understand where I’m coming from!
Ah got it, that makes more sense, that the photo was after the fact. I didn’t see the original post with the comments. Not quite the same thing, but I have a friend group text with many people in the group-things can sometimes get interesting with opinions, and lately I’ve found it’s easier to disengage from the conversation. I suppose it’s harder to do that when social media is a part of your job though.
I appreciate you taking the time to respond to blog commenters.
enjoy your holiday!
Guys, I think you all missed the point of this post. It’s about trying to be less judgmental. Moms make mistakes and decisions that they wouldn’t do again and try to learn from. By saying ‘i would never do that’ etc., it’s judgmental. She was saying that it helps to try and imagine how you might want to be treated if you made a regrettable (or even non regrettable) parenting decision.
No, believe me… I understand what she is saying. I think the point we are trying to make is the “mom shaming” is overused and incorrectly. Shaming is saying HOW DARE YOU DO THAT, YOU’RE AN AWFUL MOTHER! Obviously, everyone parents differently. We are not a mold. If she thought it was in her daughters best interest to take her to a restaurant after a rough time at target…then take her to a restaurant. I think others are just saying, not something I would do…but yeah, do your thing girl! When you are a blogger you open your life to opinions, if you don’t like them you are probably in the wrong industry.
I still disagree. I get your point but I think mom shaming can be more subtle than just straight up “you are an awful mother”. I think saying “I would have never done that” has a judgmental tone. While saying “when our daughter is fussy, we don’t go for dinner and it saves us some stress” is more constructive. If I told this story to a friend in person and they replied “I would have never done that”, I would be a bit taken aback. Some of the posts were definitely harsh. There were some people lecturing her and laying on the guilt. Some were helpful and had suggestions about the best kinds of restaurants to go to, etc. I think sometimes people don’t realize how things come across. You definitely open yourself up to criticism as a blogger, that’s for sure! That doesn’t mean you can’t try and change that and make the discussions more helpful and less negative. I believe that’s what she’s trying to do.
This – 100%
I think the lack of empathy came from those who agreed with or defended Julia towards those who disagreed with her in the situation. Extending empathy goes both ways.
Liz, thank you for saying this. I think I wasn’t clear in my post! It was from people who agreed with me AND people who didn’t. And it was more how they spoke to each other, not to me that I was writing about.
We are all human beings. We judge everything, it’s how normal human beings interact with each other. You judge whether or not you are going to talk to someone, you judge whether or not the shoes someone is wearing is appropriate for their outfit, you judge whether a banana is ripe enough to eat, you judge whether or not you should get out of bed in the morning…etc, etc. There’s no such thing as even being more or less judgemental b/c being able to judge is is the normality of the human condition. Biologically, it’s how normal human beings interact with their environment.
Hi Jessica! I totally agree. I definitely shouldn’t have taken her out. It was totally my bad, but I didn’t realize my mistake until it was too late. It was my first time in that situation and I’ve lived and learned for sure.
And I also agree that mom shaming and criticism are different and that’s such an important point. I think I was unclear in this post because I was referring to people talking to each other on my Instagram, not to me! I don’t think anyone was that rude to me personally, but watching people argue with each other is what got me.
I appreciate your response and yes parenting is always a live and learn kind of thing. Have fun in Bermuda!0
Amen to empathy. If people just had a little more compassion for others the world would be a better place. Enjoy the holiday!
Amen to that. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!
I hope you have the best time in Bermuda! I am quite a bit older than you and have 5 kids. I have 20 year old twin daughters, 16 year old twin daughters and a 10 year old son. When I first became a mom, admittedly, I was judgmental. I was convinced that what I was doing was right and the moms who were not doing it my way were WRONG. Whoa, how far I have come. I believe one of the best things to have come from being a mom is the development of strong empathy. Nowadays, I have nothing but love and understanding towards women, all women, not just mothers. I truly believe that we are all trying to do the best we can by our children and in life. Sometimes we succeed, often we fail. However, we are all trying. When I was a young mom and would get on my soapbox, my dad would always say, “With time comes perspective.” Now I recognize how true those words are. You are so correct when you write that we all need to support and respect one another. What we all really need is to be accepted as we are. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
Allison, your comment just made me tear up. Thank you so much for sharing it! You sound like an amazing, caring, and wonderful woman and mother. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family xx
Thank you for this! I never understood why people with differing opinions felt the need to come down so hard on others. We all struggle with different things on a daily basis and some days we are trying so hard just to get through the day. We have to start supporting and encouraging each other! Judging other moms does not accomplish anything!
Agreed! It’s ok to disagree, but I think we can all be a little more kind and a little less judgey!
I just didn’t understand why you needed to have someone take a picture of her meltdown. Although, I think this picture was from the same day as the Lumify post.
Hi Megan and Amanda! I’m so sorry that my post came off like that. Anel took a photo of us while I was playing with her and cheering her up because he thought it was cute. We didn’t take it on purpose for social media but I posted it because it felt important. I wore the same exact outfit as my Lumift post but promise you it was on a different day!
Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I didn’t mean for this to come off as anything other than a glimpse into my life as a mom and that was my only intention. I apologize if it looked any other way.
To everyone who is criticizing Julia for posting photos, telling stories, encouraging empathy, whatever….hear me out: WHAT IF…you kept your criticisms to yourselves? And maybe read a different blog, one that better suited your particular beliefs, one you actually LIKE, instead? Or WHAT IF you found something nice to say to Julia instead of your criticisms? Like if you lifted her up and supported her instead of criticizing her from behind a screen? I’m not telling you to do this. I am asking you to imagine WHAT IF. If you did any of this instead of putting negative vibes out into the world, I think it would be better for all moms!
Ellen A Cohen… I think we all support Julia when we read her blog, comment/like her social media posts, buy the products she is recommending, etc. I’m asking her to be more transparent. She’s making a very good living off of her blog and social media. She’s allowed to be critiqued by those helping her earn money. Do you not receive any negative feedback at your job?
I truly want to relate to Julia, but she is continuing to make it harder by constantly blaming “mom-shaming” for any views other than her own.
I was looking forward to a true “day in the life” with her sponsored stories by California Almonds, but nothing feels genuine anymore.
This is a forum where Julia has regularly encouraged discussion and dialogue for all mothers/parents. That shouldn’t come with the caveat that if you don’t agree see yourself out, please. I think the comments on this post have all been respectful and articulate. Of course anything written online can be subject to tone as interpreted by the reader so perhaps we should all give each other the benefit of the doubt that the tone is respectful and measured and not hostile.
Thank you so much, Ellen! I really appreciate that. I am totally fine (and welcome!) criticism as long as it’s said in a respectful way. I would hope we can all extend that respect to each other.
Amanda, please let me know how I can be more transparent. I’m all about that and happy to do whatever it takes!
Lauren, I agree! It’s hard to read things online and not hear vocal intonations.
Thank you all for your feedback and response. I appreciate all of it xx
My son has been sick and teething for a couple months and sometimes you just need to get out of the house! That usually means we will put him in the stroller and walk and get coffee but even if he is fussy sometimes it is for our own sanity. Also, we were out for a tree lighting that was a little past our sons bedtime but we had plans with friends and he was getting restless and cold so we went into a restaurant and got a table to find out they were out of highchairs. We hadn’t eaten and we just rolled with it. It was not the most peaceful dinner and he had his moments but our options were limited. I agree that most of the time I wouldn’t choose to take out a cranky kid to a restaurant but sometimes you roll with it and I truly try not to judge any moms when they are out with their kids and their kids aren’t acting like perfect angels. That is life and I think the main thing is we should all just be more kind and understanding. You really never know what someone is going through!
I’ve been in that exact same situation and applaud you for rolling with it because that isn’t easy! And I agree that we can all be more kind and understanding. That can’t hurt anyone, right?
Folks missed the boat on your message in this post. To empathize is to seek understanding without sharing your own interpretation of a situation. Of course people have different views and takes on being a parent. But we could all lift each other up – recognize that we’ve all been in those situations- and that we’ve all done what’s best or what we thought was best at the time. Having a toddler meltdown in a public place is the worst and we can all recognize that without shaming Julia into what she should have done differently. You are so brave for sharing your motherhood journey so publicly!
Thank you so much Tanya! I appreciate the support and your interpretation of what I wrote which is spot on. Happy holidays!
I’m finding this whole discussion amusing, as I have a 3 and 5 year old and live in the same area. People here have always been extremely kind to me when my children were not having the best day and in general I have found the parents I have met not to be judgmental and I have met a lot via classes, my mom’s group, preschool, now elementary. I have never been given the stink eye in a restaurant or store. I’m not saying it never happens that people have negative views of someone’s parenting but most people are involved in their own crap and really could care less about a passing toddler than is crying. I think you may be more self conscious than anything else. Did the people at the table say anything to you? How do you know what they were thinking? As for restaurants there was a period of time with both kids I just did not take them to restaurants. They were too fussy and too restless. One time my son wouldn’t sit still and I had to circle around a dozen times while he was just learning to climb stairs and we did that for a half hour. All the patrons thought he was adorable but I was exhausted and hungry. I think we took a few month break from restaurants after that. It’s just the way it is. Even now that they are slightly older we still pick quick serve places that are noisy, mostly diners that have crayons and food the kids like. I saw lots of posters saying basically the same thing and getting shot down for telling moms to “stay home” but sometimes you just half to be logical and do what makes the most sense. I stayed away from restaurants with kids for a while because it wasn’t working and I wasn’t going to force it, not mom shaming.
I also have never had this experience until the other night! People around here usually get it because there are so many young families. The hostess actually came over and said something about the other people staring us down so I’m pretty sure it was fairly overt! That said, I don’t see it as a common theme and I’m going to empathize with them and assume they were just having a bad night. I’m not mad at them, I was just extremely embarrassed that I had the “bad” kid in the situation.
Agreed on picking quick serve, noisy places which we always do as well! In this case it was Bartaco in Stamford which is our go-to. It’s so great for kids. I for sure made a mistake in taking her out that night and have learned from that 1000%.
I have children and live in the same area and bar taco is not a kid place. It is a place young professionals in particular in the area go after work. I am not saying young children don’t go there but it is most definitely not a place for an unhappy baby. There are so many options for young families but the fact that you are surprised you got looks at Bar Taco really is more shocking !
I respect parents’ decision to take fussy children to restaurants.
I also fully respect my decision to be extremely pissy about my restaurant experience during that time.
Fair enough, lady. Fair enough! As long as you can empathize with the moms on the other end of the situation, I’m totally with you.
You should also try to empathize with the people on the other end of the situation too.
100%! I hope that we can all, myself included, work on this.
Yes to all of this! On one hand I think it’s great that we all think we are making the best decisions. I don’t even think it’s that we want different things for the world or our kids. At the core, we likely want very similar things and we have different ideas about how those things can be achieved. The climate is so hot that I don’t feel like it’s ever a safe place to voice an opinion. We all want to be understood and yet we offer no understanding to others. Ughhh….anyway, yes to more empathy! 🙂
On point, yes! Thank you Jen
I have 3 kids. I can’t think of a time/errand where one of them isn’t melting down/cranky/opinionated. I am SO SICK of bloggers monetizing these moments!!! Not everything needs to be photographed, and if it is a sweet moment between you and your husband, there is no need to publish on the internet for all to see. When Amalia is older I guarantee you she will resent being used in this way. This is not “mom shaming”. This is the modern day “Girlfriends Guide to Raising Kids”. Please stop.
Understood and noted, Jenn. Thank you for your perspective and feedback!
I have never felt the need to comment before. However, I have read comments for a while and I feel that Julia takes a lot of unnecessary heat. People complain that they want more “real” moments and then when Julia does everyone starts bashing her. Julia you are a wonderful mom and doing a great job! The message of this post was empathy, lets spread love and kindness.
Thanks Stephanie 🙂 That means more than you know. Happy Thanksgiving!
The one thing that is really hard for me after two miscarriages is hearing kids cry. So I definitely would have been one of the upset patrons. I have empathy for any parents dealing with a fussy kid, but it would have hard for me as well to keep my emotions in check for reasons other than just disturbing my dinner.
Maureen, I am so so sorry for your losses. I’ve been there and can totally relate. Thank you for sharing your story and your perspective. Sending you so much love this holiday season.
It’s hard being a mother yes but at the same time life only gets harder when you are not receptive to all the circumstances around you. Sometimes the positive and agreeable comments we look for to make us feel better aren’t necessarily warranted for the situation at hand and it certainly doesn’t build character from experience but it reinforces the existing one. I am in agreement with everyone here. The whole “shaming” thing in my opinion is just an umbrella-term type of thing that allows people to silence others from giving an opinion that’s different (whether positive or negative) from their own. It’s highly inauthentic to even have such a mindset (the ones that believe “shaming” is an actual thing to use in or to silence someone or for those that remain silent b/c they are afraid to be called a “shamer”). There’s a way to say things but at the same time an opinion is an opinion and if you are within the public eye, expect all opinions. Again, the whole “shaming” thing is just a whole to silent people. But see…I’m the type or woman who has no qualms about being called any type of name b/c if I see it or if you put in my view as a human being I will let you know the business, if you don’t want my viewpoint then keep it out of my view. I think we are so quick to go into defense-mode that we create super sensitivity within ourselves when we don’t get what we try to dig for passive aggressively. Along, being blogger, it’s a public platform, you will get everything. Indeed.