Information, judgement and the space in between

School’s back. And that means school lunches need to be packed. Like other parents, I am quietly stalking blogs, Facebook pages and Pinterest for inspiration. On my way to finding an alternative to sandwiches, I am finding a fair bit of judgement which is in turn being met with a fair bit of judgement on said judgement. Then there is judgement on calling out the judgment. It’s a bit much when all I wanted was a recipe for some zucchini and carrot muffins.

information, choices, judgement & spaces in between

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we make such a big deal of something as innocuous as lunch boxes. Why do we jump to the conclusion that one person’s choice is a judgement on our own? 

I am vegetarian but if I wasn’t brought up with that diet, I’d probably be eating meat. As it is I sometimes eat fish to make it easier on my family. It’s fascinating to watch reactions when I tell people I am (sort of) vegetarian. Some people say “Oh, I don’t like meat either but I have to eat it for the iron.” Others say, “How do you get all your nutrients?” Others say, “well you eat fish, so that’s not really vegetarian then is it?” I can feel it when people think my choice of diet is silently judging their choice of diet. They enter into fight mode, ready to defend themselves. Truth is, I don’t care one whit if the people around me eat meat or not. My decision has nothing to do with them and I certainly don’t expect them to adopt my diet. But on the flip-side, I shouldn’t have to explain my choices either.

When a person chooses a paleo diet or quits sugar or commits themselves and their family to a whole food diet, I don’t believe they are expecting everyone around them to do the same. People get excited about things they think are awesome and naturally want to share their excitement. Like minded people share things they are interested in. That act of sharing information isn’t inherently judgemental.

If someone posts a picture of a yoghurt packet and points out the amount of sugar involved, they are sharing information they think is important. I find it annoying because my kids like that brand of yoghurt and here I was thinking it was a relatively healthy choice. But it’s not judgement. It’s just inconvenient information. When someone makes a comment like “I can’t believe any mother would knowingly feed that crap to their children”, then we enter into judgemental territory.

When I am around someone who has made their child home-made protein balls and I am offering my kid pre-packaged snacks marketed as “healthy”, I do feel awkward. But that’s everything to do with me and nothing to do with the mum who is just wanting the best for her child. I do what I can. They do what they can. We are all just trying to do our best for the kids we love.

If you are feeling a bit meh over your lunchbox choices, consider the fact there are kids that go school without lunch and without breakfast. If you want to give those kids a helping hand, you can through the Smith Family.

I think we need to keep things in perspective, make and own the choices that are best for our families, live and let live and not confuse someone else’s choice with judgement on our own.

Arrow 2

What do you think?
Been in any lunchbox stoushes recently?

38 thoughts on “Information, judgement and the space in between

  1. Flat Bum Mum says:

    Ohhh this is GOOD! I think the food shaming has hit an all time high lately. There are so many ways to feel bad about ourselves if we let it get to us. I have taught a child who brought a lump of parmasan cheese in their lunchbox. Suddenly the pre-packaged snack doesn’t look so bad.

    Bron x
    Flat Bum Mum recently posted…How to wear patternMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Yeah – I really think when we label ourselves as “bad mothers” or doing things “wrong” we need to take a step back and realise how lucky we (and our kids) truly are. It’s such a first, first world problem.

  2. The Hipserette says:

    Yes, good post, Robyna, going to school with a lunch box filled with food is a luxury that some children do not have, and important to put into perspective. It’s hard to keep up with all the food fads, isn’t it – because what is ‘good’ for us can and does change, depending on whose diet ideology you follow.
    I love food, especially vegetables (never met one I didn’t like), am willing to try almost anything, and am always interested in new and innovative ideas. But personally, I get really exhausted by food zealots who want to convert me to their usually restrictive way of eating – it really sucks the joy out of what should be one of life’s most pleasurable activities.

    • Robyna says:

      Oh exactly! Where is the joy in that? Food is such a wonderful, sensory experience – I don’t think we should rob our kids of that by being excessively restrictive.

  3. Hugzilla says:

    Great post Robyna! You’ve nailed it totally for me. There is information delivered with enthusiasm and passion for the subject matter. And then there is sanctimonious judgement dressed up as concern. Big difference between the two. I personally loved that yoghurt info, and it definitely changed the way I pack the kids’ lunches. There are a lot of foods out there pretending to be healthy and I am grateful for any information that comes my way. Anyone chastising you for wanting that recipe is just a dick.
    Hugzilla recently posted…Kids Steal Your Looks, Your Sanity and Your Mojo… But Mostly They Steal Your TimeMy Profile

  4. deb dane says:

    This is a sore point for me with the Internet and social media. I love the sharing of information since I love learning, but damn I am sick of the judgmental comments (I have often seen the ones like you mention with criticism of those who “knowingly give their kids this crap” which I admit makes me feel shamed even if not spoken directly to me). Or when someone posts to share something and someone else comments with an alternative (like your idea is great but you would be better off doing x). Unsolicited advice feels judgy to me rather than helpful.
    deb dane recently posted…Lessons from natureMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      That’s so true – and it’s so difficult to judge tone on the interwebs, that it’s very easy to read that judgemental tone. There are also an awful lot of people pushing their own agendas.

  5. Collette says:

    Really interesting post. But the parents aren’t the only ones judging. My nine year old comes home and says so and so made fun of the chicken leg in her lunch box, or the strange chunky bread she has (because it’s not square and white). We are all doing the best that we can, it’s a shame people forget that. Live and let live!
    Collette recently posted…Authenticity – Just How Authentic Is It?My Profile

  6. Eva @ The Multitasking Woman says:

    Well, we are most certainly on a similar wavelength as I have a blog post in draft on a similar topic about lunchboxes! I think it’s getting a little out of control. You are totally right, who cares, whose business is it? We are all doing what we feel is right! Great post!

  7. EssentiallyJess says:

    I’m over it. I really hate the food shaming to make people feel inferior. I could spend all day baking healthy things, but you know what, I would be tired and grumpy and a worse mum for it. Or I can try and buy healthy things that make life easier. I know which is better for our family.
    EssentiallyJess recently posted…Which Koala are You? #IBOTMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Exactly. I am not a baker – it’s not something I inherently enjoy – so I show my love in different ways to my kids. Which, I think at the end of the day is what we are talking about here – nurturing our children in the ways that make sense to us.

    • Chris says:

      And I LOVE baking for my kids and finding more and more inventive ways to get healthy food in them, but that is ME. I do it because baking is (one of) my hobby(s), not because I think my children will shrivel up and die if they eat a flavoured corn chip. Inevitably on my many Pinterest binges I will come across a recipe I like and be completely put off by the blogger spending the space in their post NOT about the recipe food-shaming other parents.

      Plus if it is a complicated or new recipe my kids watch TV while I bake, duh duh duh DUH.

  8. Renee Wilson says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Make your own choices and stand by them and keep your nose out of other people’s business. I’m new to this lunchbox caper with my daughter just starting prep last week. I too have been searching for lunchbox ideas, but the noise going on about school lunches at the moment is ridiculous. Everybody needs to settle down. BTW – I’m also vegetarian and the most annoying and inconsiderate comments I received was when I was pregnant and breastfeeding suggesting (and outright saying) that I wasn’t giving my child the nutrients they needed. I can feel my blood boil just thinking about it.

  9. Melinda says:

    Gosh who knew school lunches could be so controversial? I laugh that some people make amazing lunches for their kids in all kinds of Star Wars themed bento boxes- I certainly don’t have the time, energy or even the brain capacity for that… but at the end of the day we’re all just trying to do the best we know how with the resources available to us and if that involves some baked beans, a wrap with cheese in it and a carrot (that’s not peeled) then judge away. That’s what my kid’s eating tomorrow, and you’re totally right- at least she’s got something to eat.
    Great post!

    • Robyna says:

      I know right? I love seeing those kinds of lunch boxes, it’s not me but I admire those that do it. My kids tend to have the same thing, day in, day out but I know it gets (at least partially) eaten.

  10. Toni @ Finding Myself Young says:

    I’m so glad my daughter isn’t at school age yet as the lunchbox shaming seems to be at a whole new level lately. Perhaps it always has been and I’ve just not witnessed it before, but it seems to be off the charts at the moment. I think in the end everyone is doing the best they can and if the kids don’t have a problem with it then the adults shouldn’t either.
    Toni @ Finding Myself Young recently posted…Dreambaby home safety products review + giveawayMy Profile

  11. Tegan says:

    I haven’t experienced any judgement personally but I have read some of it lately. I’m not sure if I am more aware of it, or if it really is worse though. I don’t like that people feel the need to say nasty things about people who make pretty lunches. If their child eats it, and they love doing it, well then what is the big issue? You are so right that it is such a first world problem to judge other mums (because it’s always aimed at the mum!) because they aren’t packing sugar free, paleo or whatever the newest thing to do is. My son’s school is in a low socio-economic area and they have programs for kids who regularly don’t come to school with lunch and that makes me really sad that it is even needed but of course thankful that at least the kids are getting fed.
    Tegan recently posted…Easy Mini TacosMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      If people express their creativity and love for their kids through lunch boxes then I can’t see what’s wrong with that. It’s not for me – but lots of people probably don’t make clothes for their kids and I do. It’s such a pointless cycle of “who has time for that?” through to “well, you’d do it too if you really cared for your kids” through to “you don’t know about my life.” I mean, what purpose does it serve, aside from everyone getting upset?

  12. Beth at AlmostPosh.com says:

    I like food but I find the preparation of it completely tedious. I don’t have to deal with lunch boxes just yet but the Peppa Pig backpack usually has a box of sultanas, a Heinz kid’s muesli bar and a bag of some sort of biscuit for on-the-go snacking and a bit of fruit or rice crackers do for home. Can’t see myself getting too much more creative!
    Beth at AlmostPosh.com recently posted…Posh Picks: Pantone Colours Of The YearMy Profile

  13. Raylene Barton says:

    Oh yes yes and yes! It seems these days you can’t give your opinion on something without someone saying “don’t judge”. I am 90% vegan for ethical reasons. The food, clothing, cosmetics etc i choose are based on this. Im not perfect (hence 90%) as I am allergic to soy protein, am single mum with no family in this country to help me and my 2 year old has Down Syndrome. I do my best under my circumstance and I am happy with the choices I make.
    As you can imagine I get hammered from all directions….. not ethical enough for the hard core vegans and too vegan for everyone else 😉

    • Robyna says:

      It’s such a hard balance – an opinion is not necessarily a judgement, but judgement is often read into it. I can see how you would definitely cop it from both sides. Live and let live I say.

  14. Mel Roworth says:

    Lunchboxes are just not MY priority. I do care about the nutrition I put in to them but my poor kids will probably never see a smiley fruit face staring back at them when they open the lid.
    It’s still cute and that’s someone else’s creative outlet.

    • Robyna says:

      Exactly. Sometimes I draw a heart on a banana when I put my littlest name on it (they have fridges at daycare so nude food is the way to go), but that’s about it.

  15. Emily says:

    Great post. My daughter gets a sandwich every day. I refuse to feel guilty about it. She gets other stuff that I won’t list because that’s not the point of your post. The point is that I refuse to feel guilty about it. Nor do I pat myself on the back for it. It is what it is.
    I think there is a lot of judgement out there. But I wholeheartedly agree that often, we hear (or see) judgement where there isn’t any. x
    Emily recently posted…International Book Giving Day giveaway!My Profile

  16. Michelle says:

    I keep ours simple too – a sandwich, some yoghurt, some fruit and a treat. I’d mix it up a bit if I thought the little toerags would eat it! I don’t know how people can judge other parents’ lunchbox preparation… how could they even see it, unless they staked out the kids at lunchtime? Only judginess I’ve gotten was at the boys’ old daycare where treats like muffins and bickies (home made, and actually with some healthy stuff hidden in there) came back at night as my kids WEREN’T ALLOWED TO EAT THEM because they ‘weren’t healthy enough’. Were they there when I made them? Nope. They could’ve been raw vegan cacao goodies for all they knew. (They weren’t, but that’s not the point!) I’ve heard some schools do this too – ours doesn’t thankfully, although their fruit break idea is a good one.
    Michelle recently posted…Tykes on Bikes 2: Tasman Great Taste Trail, New Zealand.My Profile

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