Smack In The Middle: Not A Victor Or A Victim Of Anyone’s Judgment
We’re all really judgmental people, aren’t we? Whenever people say or do something we wouldn’t say or do, we are quick to disabuse them of their notions. And we are right—sometimes burning with righteousness.
We judge and are judged the most when it comes to parenting. No matter what choices parents make, there will always be people who feel entitled to vilify them without knowing the whole story and without offering the benefit of the doubt. Recent examples are the mother who let her 7-year-old son walk to the park alone and the mother who left her baby and toddler in a car to go on a job interview. Everybody had an opinion—usually a strong one, typed in capital letters or said while screaming.
It sucks to be judged and it’s often very painful, but we all do it. As I move closer to middle age, I’ve discovered something about myself regarding judgment: Ninety percent of the time, I don’t care what others think of my choices, parenting or otherwise.
Actually, this isn’t a brand new discovery for me. I would be lying if I said that I have never cared what people think of me, but for most of my life, my default reaction to judgment has been nonchalance and amusement. I learned early on that judgment is a quality that human beings will possess as long as we exist.
I also know that despite the negative connotations of the word judgment, some judgment can be very positive. When that’s the case, we eat it up. Judgment is a coin with two sides. If we are willing to accept positive judgment (“You’re doing a great job with your kids!”), we have to accept negative judgment, too (“It’s crazy to put a 6-week-old baby in day care!”).
Judgment is nothing other than people seeing us as they see themselves. In my opinion, there’s no reason to be carried away by people’s praise or disapproval. Yes, I love it when people say nice things about my parenting, but I recognize that the compliment is based on that person’s beliefs and experiences. Without fail, someone else will see me do the same thing with my kids for which I was just praised and think, “I would never!”
I try not to absorb judgment and make it a part of my being, whether positive or negative. I let it pass through me because it can make me think I’m a better mother or a worse mother than I actually am. For me, worrying about what others think of my parenting leaves no room to reflect on what’s best for my children or how my choices affect them. Is it ever good for our kids when we do or don’t do something based on what others think?
My ultimate responsibility—and yours, too—is to do the very best I can for my family and myself. All decisions start with me asking myself: Is this good for my kids? Will this work for the family as a whole? What is the end result for me? How does my husband feel about this?
The answers are usually not easy and it’s hard to get them to coexist. What’s good for me isn’t always good for my children and husband and vice versa. Most times, it’s so complicated and chaotic worrying about the five people I live with that I don’t have the time, energy, or patience to deal with the others’ opinions. So I don’t. I’m not a victor or a victim of what anybody thinks of me.
Because I feel strongly about controlling myself and my thoughts since I can’t control others, when I find myself judging another parent harshly I know I that I have work to do on myself. If I feel good about my life and my choices, I don’t feel the need to bash somebody else’s. If I’m going to be judgmental, I’d rather be judgmental on the side of love and support rather than anger and belittling.
What about you? How do you deal with being judging or being judged? Share your thoughts below.