Monday, October 28, 2013

Parenthood: Week 22 – Judging Other Parents

Almost every parent judges over parents

Yes, we shouldn’t judge others. There’s no need to make ourselves feel superior as parents by putting down what other parents do, but it’s part of our nature.  Like other instincts as parents, denial of these thoughts isn’t really productive.

Parenting is a unique experience for every person. You can’t really compare two parents because each kid is different and the parents themselves are different. You can reasonably compare two football teams that are playing each other by the same rules. However, you can’t really do that with parents because often, they are not even playing the same sport.

So you hear a parent talking about something they do with their child and you think they are making a bad choice. Of course at the same time you reflect how you are making a better decision with your kid in a similar situation with great results. What do you do we this?

If the other person is receptive you can give your opinion. Of course if you are very close to them and what they are doing could seriously harm their child you have a responsibility to speak up. Otherwise, you keep your mouth shut. They probably know that you are judging them, because they are probably judging you, so just keep quiet.

The choices we make as parents are fraught with insecurity. None of the baby books and n doctors can tell you 100% that the choices you are making will lead to the absolutely most positive outcome for your child. So you do your best and you make a lot of decisions, most decision based on your parental instincts and faith.

This is one of the most difficult things about parenting. Sometimes, the best way to work through insecurity is to see at someone else and think that you are doing better than them and that you know better than them. Is the best way to make you feel more secure? Not really. But sometimes, it helps.

We should never make ourselves feel bad because of the way that we react to the world around us in our thoughts. If a parent does something that we think is strange, chastising ourselves for thinking this, creates a negative feedback loop that only ensures that this these judging thoughts will only lead to self-hatred. Instead, turn that judging instincts into an role play exercise.

What would you do differently and why? What part of the picture are you not seeing that might prevent this other person from doing what you would do? What does your reaction say about your own insecurities about being a parent? Let these judging thoughts lead you back to yourself so that you can ultimately become a better parent.

Nobody’s perfect. We all think things that we are not always proud of. There’s no shame in these reactions. The problem comes when we articulate these thoughts in inconsiderate ways and beat ourselves up as opposed to examine them as expressions of the challenges and insecurities in our own lives.

We create stories so that we can judge fictional characters and do this less in our personal lives. But sometimes this isn’t enough. When you are a parent, the insecurities can be overwhelming and it seems like you can’t help but to judge other parents. So go ahead and judge them, give yourself that relief and that reassurance, even if it’s fleeting. Later come back and reexamine those thoughts and through this process, these thoughts of superiority will ebb.

Judging other parents shows that you are insecure about being a parent yourself. Being insecure as a parent means that you are thoughtful about the choices you make and love your kid enough to worry about them all of the time.

As my mom told me, "it's a parents' job to worry."  So do your job and judge away. 

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