It both amuses me, and sometimes upsets me, that parents are so harshly judged. The amusement comes because parents are the biggest culprits themselves of judging other parents, yet don’t like it when they themselves are judged.
And it upsets me when I am the victim – of course. But then, like the title, you might say that none of us are exempt from being the judge and the judged. It is particularly rife amongst the parenting world don’t you think?
I am ashamed to say that I do catch myself being quite judgemental from time to time.
For example, I was in the supermarket recently when I saw a man holding his toddler who was screaming at the top of her lungs. He kept walking around offering things to her which seemed to inflame her more causing the screaming to continue. I thought to myself “For goodness sake! Stop offering her things you fool! Take her out and tell her off!”
Of course I thought like this – like I have never dragged a screaming child around the supermarket!
I remember a time when I was pregnant and my toddler leaned over the trolley at the supermarket checkout and pulled all the chocolate bars onto the floor and promptly started crying as he couldn’t get them. I was sick, tired, uncomfortable and hated supermarket shopping. I very calmly (not on the inside) stood there and looked at the checkout woman who demanded “Could you pick them up please?”
“No” I said. “If you don’t want children to mess them up don’t put them there!”
I just wanted to get out of there quick as judgemental parents dragging well behaved kids in their wake were looking at me!
So there you go. Can we really help ourselves? Despite our own experiences and short comings we still do it.
I see that especially celebrity parents, like David Beckham, are perhaps even more harshly judged as this link shows.
I myself, although not followed by paparazzi for international photos, was similarly judged many years ago when we took our new baby to town for the first time.
If I was famous and it was paparazzi following me, it would have headlined something like this;
“Very talented actress, Meg Bryant, exposes her new baby to freezing conditions. She can act but can she parent??”
Anyway, it was a chilly November day in Queenstown, New Zealand. We parked the car and took out our precious bundle who had arrived into the world about a month earlier. He had spent a fraught week in the Neonatal Intensive care unit after nearly not making it in to the world alive. He was significantly harmed during birth but had now had the ‘all clear’. He was still damaged looking though and his scalp was swollen with a huge hematoma but he was well wrapped. Clearly we couldn’t put a little hat on his sore head, as you would normally do with a new baby. However, as we walked towards town an old lady came up to us and told us off for not having a warm hat on our new baby! “Shame on you” she said!!
Now I’m sure she was well meaning old biddy and she probably still to this day thinks we were terrible people, but it was just too much for us. Our first experience of being judged as bad parents came way to close to a traumatic hospital birth experience where our son had so very nearly died, or been permanently damaged.
She was very impolitely put her in her place with some choice words that I cannot repeat here!
So now you may be thinking, “why would anyone take a damaged new baby out in the cold?!”.
I realise I have just exposed myself to potential judgement once again. But unless you have walked in our shoes, or similar ones at least, you wouldn’t ‘get’ the need to take your new baby out and show him the world and the world to him. Every new parent wants to do this. Rightly or wrongly we were ready after what felt like a huge delay.
I guess the issue is that we all think we know what is to be done, what’s right and correct. But the truth of the matter is that we don’t always know and sometimes when you look back at the things you did I’m sure you will agree that sometimes the logic appears to have been a bit warped.
We are all influenced by beliefs and prejudices that we are not always conscious of.
And really until you actually do walk in another’s shoes we cannot know why parents do the things they do. Sometimes there is great logic, sometimes not.
I realized that I can tend to be more critical of others when I am tired, stressed and grumpy, so it makes me wonder whether I am less tolerant of other parents antics with their kids when I am like this and therefore it is me – not them.
I guess we can all be a bit more understanding of others if we can maintain a good level of wellbeing. Another good reason to look after ourselves!