You’re at the store/restaurant/park/cousin’s wedding. Your child melts down over (insert any reason here). You look up and see the faces of what feels like a hundred people judging every parenting decision you’ve made up to this point. You hear someone say, “uh oh” and it solidifies your suspicion. The meltdown you can handle, it’s not the first and it won’t be the last. The looks though, sink deep.
On the drive home as your now angel snoozes in the backseat, you wonder what you could have done differently. If there’s some book you should be ordering or child behavioral specialist blogger you should be following. Later, you vent to your significant other/sister/friend/shower wall. The “uh oh” plays over and over. You pull yourself out of it, remember that you are enough and a wonderful parent (at least until it keeps you up another hour that night). Then you take to social media, “Stop the mom shame!”
Hear, hear! I’m with you! Stop the mom shame! I have news though, it’s not the faces you saw or the quiet comments you heard that are the real culprit. It’s you. Because in truth, no one is judging you. They are judging themselves, and the only one judging you is you.
You just rolled your eyes at me and that’s okay, I can back this up and it’s actually a good thing! Strangers, mother-in-laws, playdate friends… those minds you cannot change. Yours however, is ready and willing to give you a break.
Let’s say everyone of those spectators were actually thinking something negative about you or your child. They’re still not judging either of you and I can prove it. First of all, there’s very little chance they were even thinking about something negative. When a child screams, yes, people are going to look. How weird and cold would it be if we all conditioned ourselves to turn away from someone in distress? Or smile? Thinking we can discern the thoughts of strangers by a quick glance while we ourselves are in a stressful state of mind and probably looking for judgement is quite the leap. I guarantee you that the most popular thoughts in that group consists of: “That poor person,” “I wish I knew how to help,” or “Thank gosh that’s not me right now.” From the time I found out I was going to be a mom, I can tell you that I was thinking, “Ok, how is this inspiring parent handling this and what can I learn from them.” Now that I have a toddler of my own it also includes, “Bless their heart and hallelujah that’s not my kid this time!” There’s no way my face says all that.
Now let’s say someone in our hypothetical audience is thinking more along the lines of “what an awful parent” or “what an awful child” or some variation of those two things. They’re still not judging you. They’re judging themselves. When we judge other people’s actions we are actually drawing from insecurities within ourselves. A completely secure and confident person would have no reason to judge negatively the actions of someone else (crimes and malicious intent aside). They would only respond with compassion and empathy. They would have a constant understanding that no two people have lived the same lives, so we can’t possibly say how another person should live theirs, let alone how they should react to a singular situation.
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