A friend asked that I blog about judgmental parents. I thought oh sure, that is such an easy topic, but I think she wanted me to make a plea to parents to be kinder when speaking about other people’s children. It seems to be so common in our society. Is it truly just a human condition? As a human, we are constantly comparing, judging and measuring. Are they better or are they less than us? We can’t ever seem to let it be. I was one of those parents long ago and maybe catch myself thinking or saying it once in a while even now. I held my ruler up and measured them against how I was as a parent and many failed. Some parents didn’t fail, but somehow seemed like they had it together better then me then I felt jealousy. Once in a while, I make it sound like I have it all together when I don’t. A parent will talk to me about their own children and most times I will say yes, I have been there, but sometimes I offer advice on what I have told my own children, but it makes me feel like I’m sounding superior. I don’t like it about me. I try to remain aware in conversations when people reach out. They want to be heard and supported and not reminded of their failings.
I have changed over the years. I realized that it wasn’t important to worry about other parents, but how was I demonstrating to be a human being in this big world to my own children. In the end, I have to answer to them and myself. If you spoke to me now about parenting or if you chose to speak poorly about a mom, dad or child I’d probably tell you the same lines I say over and over, “It is not my place to judge. They go home and have their life. I don’t know what is happening in their home. They are doing the best they can.” And, if I see a child screaming at the check out line and a mom is trying her best to remain cool I always say that we’ve all been there and stores place the bright shiny candy there on purpose. Her facial tension dissipates a bit and we laugh. I ask her how many kids she has, and then tell her I have three and we survived. If it’s any consolation they throw bigger fits for pricier items than the bag of candy. I tell her, you’re a champ and you’ll get through this time.
But, in truth, the actions sometimes get worse. Your children could be complete brats and tell you off in front of other moms. They might be the naughty child that everyone is never surprised is in the principal’s office. Your teenage daughter’s sarcasm has many parents criticizing what comes out of her mouth. If you are like me with my children; each child has their own sets of challenges. They want you to see them as they see themselves. I sense they want me to see them as the victim and that is not my plan for them. I see them. I see them as they are. I see the naughty stuff but I see the loving stuff too. But, if you can imagine my home is not a blissful, peaceful place at all times. I am working on it. Every day is an education day. I am constantly trying to review what I think is important. Today in particular we learned that you need to be kind to others, when they show you who they are, believe them. We learned that there is little punishment when you pull someone’s hair and then they hit you, but you expect that the latter part should be punished but pulling their hair first seemed justified. It wasn’t. We learned that taking turns with chores only works when you do yours the day before, but when you didn’t: it is your turn.
I think what changed me is that I saw myself in those moments. Imagine one of your worst days of being mom. The day you felt like crying and wishing you had more help, more love, more hands and listened to your own mother on how to cook this casserole all the while a baby crying, toddler singing and the last child running with scissors. Now, you have some other mother come in and assess your situation. She is standing there looking perfect and her kids stand there with their perfect clothes and hair and she has that look on her face of pure judgement. Her look says, “Wow, how do you live like this? It is so messy? I couldn’t do this ever. I can bathe my kids and cook and wash and clean all at the same time.” But, what if instead she sees you struggling? She looks at your kids and knows you are a good mom. They are fed, clothed and safe. She says, “Do you need some help? I could finish your meal on the stove if you want to pick up the baby. I understand. I see you. I have been there. I’m having a good day, let me help you have one too.”
Can you imagine how the world would be different? If we truly paid attention and saw that everyone wanted the best for our family just like us.