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Growth Spurts: If You Can’t Say Anything Nice… Try Anyway

A few weeks ago my mom, three sisters, and I went to see the movie Babies together. What a wonderful documentary! I highly recommend seeing this film, which chronicles the first year of the lives of four different babies (from Namibia, Mongolia, Japan, and the United States).

As I watched this film, which had neither narration nor dialogue, I found myself dealing with all sorts of mixed feelings. Of course, there was the obvious I-want-another-baby feeling (although that one swayed as I watched the mom from Namibia use her own knee to wipe her baby’s bottom and then use a corn cob to scrape off the excrement!). There were feelings of joy and excitement as I watched each of the babies learn new things, as well as a feeling of understanding when they just couldn’t quite get it right (The Japanese baby girl throws a tantrum, though, that you just can’t help but laugh at.) There were feelings of delight as I watched the babies giggle and play. And there were also feelings of I-can’t-watch-this as the babies terrorized the family pets or stood up in strollers and such.

The feelings that stood out the most to me, though, were surprising. I found myself judging each of those mamas. I didn’t want to, and I certainly had no right to, especially since the film offers very little background or information about the culture, families, traditions, or even what was happening off-screen at the time.

Truthfully, my feelings of judgment probably come from fear–fear of my own mothering techniques being judged by others. We all want to be great parents and are fearful of the critical eyes that can be found everywhere around us, and I would venture to say that this pressure is probably greatest in this country of ours. In fact, I felt that in the movie, the mom from the United States seemed the least comfortable with having the camera on her and her baby. I sensed that she wanted to explain her actions many times but wasn’t allowed to. The moms from the other countries just seemed to go about things as normal, not feeling the pressure of an audience. But that may have just been my imagination.

Regardless, it made me think about the pressures around us that cause us to second-guess ourselves. Parenting is hard enough as it is without scrutinizing one another. May I suggest something? The next time we’re tempted to criticize another parent, let’s look instead for something positive that they’re doing. And tell them so.


Carrie Bevell Partridge has found mamahood to be the toughest job she’ll ever love. Visit Carrie’s blogs: and

About The Author

Carrie Partridge

Carrie Bevell Partridge grew up in Memphis, TN with her parents and four siblings. She attended Mississippi College, where she met her husband Kevin. They have been married for 20 years and have five children. They live in Ridgeland, MS. Carrie has written the “Growth Spurts” column and managed social media for Parents & Kids Magazine since 2011. You can read more of her work at and

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