Are you a sanctimummy? The term is a portmanteau of “sanctimonious”, which means “making a show of being morally superior to other people”, and “mummy”, which means “person who automatically takes the blame for everything her children do that is outside the realms of ‘socially acceptable’.” You might be a sanctimummy if you’ve passed judgment on another mum whose child is having a tantrum in the supermarket, thinking, “MY child would never act like THAT.”
There’s a lot of judgment of mums out there in the world, particularly on the internet. I guess it feels “safe” somehow to sit behind our computer screens and pass judgment on a social media post from a mum who’s had a terrible day and needs to vent about her child having a tantrum in the supermarket. Maybe she wants advice on how to handle a tantrum next time it comes; maybe she just wants to hear she’s not alone. She’s reached out, and while some comments have been supportive, others are just plain, well, sanctimonious.
Comments like this:
- “You shouldn’t take your children out in public until they can behave themselves.”
- “You need to set firm boundaries so they know this kind of behaviour is not acceptable, ever. That’s what I do and my kids know how to behave in the supermarket now.”
- “You need to take a look at yourself and what kind of example you’re setting, allowing your kids to act like that.”
- “Maybe you should try going at a different time of day, when your children aren’t so tired and prone to acting up?”
And all of these things may *seem* perfectly legit at first glance, but to the mum who’s had a crappy day and really needs some support, they come across like this:
“You are doing a terrible job because you aren’t doing these things or they aren’t working for you. Your badly behaved children are a reflection of what a crappy parent you are.”
And nobody needs to feel that way, particularly not from someone they’ve never met who is judging them on the internet.
Mums get a lot of flak for everything. In fact, we published a listicle recently called “10 taboo topics parents get het up about”. Things like vaccinations. Breastfeeding beyond the baby years. Keeping kids in rear-facing car seats. These are topics I absolutely *love* to write about and publish info about in our magazine and on our website, but man, do the sanctimummies come out of the woodwork every single time and send me passionate letters to the editor detailing just how wrong they think I am. They have Big Opinions. They want to share them. With me. With everyone!
Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” I am trying to remember this, particularly on those days when I’m in the supermarket with my kids, praying one of them doesn’t have a tantrum in the middle of the baking aisle.
It’s not my job to judge people for their opinions or for their choices (although believe you me, it’s tempting). I get het up about things, too. But more than anything, I get het up about sanctimummies, but I try to remember that thing my own mother used to say to me: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”