Parenting Hierarchy…it’s there….don’t deny it

“Whatever, you’re not a real parent until you have more than one kid,” shamelessly dead-panned a good friend of mine a few weeks ago over happy hour.

Familiar to you? Especially coming off spring break.....

A few other moms totally laughed and agreed.

This particular friend was relaying a stressful drive with her two girls and a co-worker, who has one kid, while her two girls fought mercilessly in the back seat. And the single child quietly read a book. She eventually had to pull over and lay into her kids…right around K Street…during rush hour.

We’ve all been there. And little can raise your blood pressure like two siblings unleashing on each other over absolutely nothing. In this particular instance, one girl was holding her face inches from her sister’s face yet stating, factually, that she wasn’t touching her.


But what do parents of just one kid say about the  statement that they aren’t “real parents” – probably “F you, I’ve got my hands full” – right?

Lord knows when I had my first, I thought my whole world was caving in and I could barely get a meal on the table with one little 6 week old. By the time I had my second, I wondered what in the world was the big effing deal the first time around, a newborn has nothing on a 3-year-old. Right?

So then there are parents with 3 kids or 4 kids…..I’m sure they’re all looking at people with two kids thinking it’s a joke because we’re luxuriously handling man-on-man defense while they’re in the Zone.  Let’s cut to the chase, however, once you get beyond 4 kids, we’re all pretty  much judging you and wondering what in the world you were thinking or smoking to compel you to have that many kids.


Or how about the people who have the kids super close together – they know they’re being gossiped about and people are wondering what they were on when they made that decision. A good friend of mine with 3 kids, all under the age of 5, basically accepted that she was Slutty Mom at her girls’ preschool for the duration of her pregnancy with the third because the youngest two would be 15 months apart when baby was born. She probably was right.


Right now, over in Wired Momma Land, I see a woman with a 3-year-old at preschool and she is always carrying  a baby, presumably her own, who I guess to be about 9 months, yet she also looks to be about 9 months pregnant.

I stare. I judge. I struggle (with great difficulty) to do the math in my head. Could she have a 9 month old and be 9 months pregnant? Could it be a small 11 month old? What if she’s just really big because it’s her third kid and so she’s really only 6 months along?  

Any way you slice it, I actually don’t think of her as Slutty Mom, I just wonder: did gazing into the sweet eyes of a two-week-old (who never sleeps) tempt her so?


Or is she one of those unlucky people who thought she was safe because she was nursing and got pregnant the first time she had sex after the baby was born?


To say that I am fascinated would be an understatement.

But why do we care? What difference does it make?

Who knows but whether it’s spoken or unspoken – there is a parenting hierarchy and we size each other up.

On really bad days, I see people leisurely out with one kid and I am probably part jealous and part thinking they really aren’t real parents. Even though I had never processed it that way until my friend said it. I’ve already admitted to judging someone who has a bunch of kids, especially super close together in age, and don’t tell me you parents of three kids or four kids – that you don’t look at the rest of us, especially in our non-Minivan sweet rides (ha ha – kidding) – and think we’ve got it easy.

Judgy Judge Judge Judge.

We LOVE to do it.

Jolie Pitt children...the most discussed celebrity large family

How about parents of twins? Where do they fit in here? You know they’re looking at new moms with one baby and thinking their life is a joke. Personally I get annoyed when parents of twins complain to me – because last count – I still have two kids who also make demands and run in different directions and wake up at night.

Think about the Jolie Pitt clan….they have the one-two punch of a ton of kids and twins….even with more money than God to fund nannies and staff, we still talk about it. Recall there was a time when people speculated that Angie was addicted to motherhood.


Don’t tell me I am alone here.

There is absolutely a parenting hierarchy but my guess is, we each fancy ourselves, on top.

Thoughts as you’re pulling out of the preschool parking lot?

To keep up with the fun & frolic, be sure to “Like” the Wired Momma Facebook page

3 Responses to Parenting Hierarchy…it’s there….don’t deny it
  1. Sam
    April 12, 2012 | 1:54 pm

    People who have 4 kids really like kids. I mean, they really like all the things involved in having kids. I like beer, but that doesn’t mean I drink it for breakfast, lunch and snacks. Bygones. Although I consider myself a HUGE parental judger and unabashedly so, I have to let this dog lie. People mostly have the number and timing of their kids based on the most mundane of circumstances; either it felt like the right time or they just ended up getting pregnant. After 4 though, you sure as hell know what your’re getting yourself into. BTW, Wired Momma, did you read the New Yorker Book section about the ethics of having kids? Very interesting read. I’ll forward it if I can.

  2. Cesar Fojas
    April 12, 2012 | 4:09 pm

    Sorry, just because I “only” have one child doesn’t make me any less of a parent. It’s shallow and petty for parents to compete in this way. What if, hypothetically, my child is a special needs child, would I go around thinking I’m better than parents with multiple kids since I could argue that my one kid is as much “work” as two or three because of his condition? No, of course not. It would be horrific to think like that. Newsflash – good or “real” parenting is not all about how many kids you can have and how many activities they can be involved in and how well you can manipulate your schedule to get them to all their practices and games and parties and school functions. We made a conscious decision as adults to only have one child and we respect the rights of others to have more than one. Every family situation is different so why the hell would I judge others without really knowing everything about everyone involved? I truly pity those who honestly think I’m not a real parent because I only have one kid. It makes me think that those people also believe my child isn’t a real child because he has no siblings. So because I don’t have to put in as much parenting compared to those with multiple kids, I guess I should just half-ass it when raising my one and only son? Ridiculous.

  3. Monica Sakala
    April 12, 2012 | 5:53 pm

    Cesar – you are totally right to be fired up by that comment! It’s partly why I blogged on this topic – because when she said it – it stuck with me and I figure if I’ve thought about something for a few days, then it’s a blog topic. Not only did this post not cover kids with special needs and how much work that is, it didn’t cover single parents. But, the reality is, parents are sizing each other up and sometimes have competitive thoughts – could it be exhaustion rearing its ugly head? Who knows. But it’s out there. And thanks for posting the New Yorker article, Sam, I will def read it later. Hadn’t seen it yet.

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL