I can’t say when the Sanctimommy Movement started precisely, but it probably had a finger in the pie of parenting since the dawn of time. It’s understandable how it came to be with the age of the internet and unlimited access it provides to parenting resources. That whole “It Takes A Village” mentality is kind of ingrained in our DNA. It’s where that annoying (but mostly innocent and well-meaning) unsolicited advice stems from.
But there comes a point when well-intended ‘advice’ crosses into overbearing, and sometimes even demanding orders. To be frank, ain’t nobody got time for that!
Recently, a friend of mine told me she was walking from her car into a store with her son, and someone shouted at her to “put a (expletive) coat on her child.” I think we have all heard a variation of this notorious sanctimommy mom-shaming, at least once or twice. It’s puzzling. Some stranger cares so strongly about the well-being of her child that they feel the need to shout at her from a moving vehicle, effectively shaming her in public.
The moving vehicle really spotlights a lack of investment in this child, if you ask me. Counter-intuitive, at the very best. And just rude and horribly insensitive from every other angle. I could be wrong, though. Maybe they just needed to hurry up to the other local parking lots to make sure there weren’t any other mothers committing parenting faux pas? Seriously, though, if it truly takes a village to raise a child, wouldn’t you rather the members of that village be built up and strong across the board, instead of torn down and unsure of themselves?
I believe at the root of this is that if we as parents, or even as humans, understood that the world needs more empathy and put that into practice in our own daily lives, we could have more empathy as a whole. Empathy is about making a connection, and that is hard to do when you are high above someone, judging their choices, without knowing their struggles or situations.
Recently, I saw a watched a short video from the author, Brene’ Brown, that highlighted the difference between empathy vs. sympathy and it made me draw immediate comparisons in my own life. When my friend told me her moving vehicle story, it made me think of when and where that sanctimommy judgment could happen to me.
As a mom to an autistic little girl, I can tell you some days it is not worth the subsequent meltdown to get my child’s jacket on her wiggling, excited, ready-to-bolt little body between the car and the storefront doors. It just isn’t. And I get that judged feeling, every single time. (I’ve never even had anyone say anything to me, let alone yell it at me from a moving vehicle. And I still get that feeling.) That’s probably because ingrained in the mom DNA is the fact that we believe that The Sanctimommy Task Force is lurking in the shadows, ready to publicly shame me for daring to let my child go jacketless for a minute during flu season. (Minute and a half, tops.)
Every child is different, right? Well, those kids grow into adults. So, then every parent is different, too. There
might be is usually a reason you don’t know about. We don’t know the struggles or daily life of almost everyone we encounter on a daily basis. So, we should all work to broaden our view to include another’s perspective. It won’t work all the time, I’m sure, but some empathy (or attempts at it), will always be better than none. And ultimately, will strengthen our village.