We have all heard about the tragic incident at the Cincinnati Zoo. My heart breaks for the mom and child. l can’t imagine the pure horror that that they felt. As far as the gorilla; I hate to see one of God’s creatures killed…but meat…I eat meat.
I’m not being insensitive. Just honest! I’m not writing this to get into a debate about animals rights so I’ll leave it there.
I’m writing this because – when did we start judging parents so harshly? When did we decide to become judge and jury on someone’s parenting when we don’t have any firsthand knowledge? When did we decide that parents should be arrested or have their children taken away for an accident? When did we decide it’s ok to call another parent an idiot, a jerk, a piece of ____ or a dumb____? Really???
Here are three reasons I think we do this:
1. We judge what we don’t understand. I’ll be the first to admit I judge things that seem odd to me. It’s unfamiliar. It challenges my opinions. But in reality there are hundreds of ways to get from New York to California. Some take the scenic route, others want the most direct route and some change routes halfway there. This is just like parenting.
When I had my first child, I was taking one route. When I had my fourth, I was so tired I couldn’t remember the route. I started to take unexpected pit stops. I took a detour or two…or twenty. There are many great routes and I don’t have to understand everyone’s route. It’s my pride and judging heart that causes me to question others and tell them they’re “wrong”. When it comes to parenting stay in your own lane! Don’t get distracted by traffic!
2. The. Internet. Seriously, need I say more? There are so many things I love about the internet – like Google! Google is great for finding restaurants, diagnosing the latest ailment in my house, finding which actor played in my favorite Netflix series or the temperature of Mars! It’s awesome!
But, it’s also a terribly anonymous place where trolls spew hate and judgement. It’s also a place where people read one short article and become an expert. It’s a place where hurting people hurt others. It’s a place of agendas. It’s a place to sit on a high horse and hide from reality. It’s a place where the weak feel strong. It’s not a real place… It’s replaced genuine face to face relationships that help us show mercy, grace, and love. I guarantee that we do not judge those we know as harshly as those on the Internet.
3. FEAR. Fear and love are strong emotions when it comes to parenting. We love our kids so much we’d do anything for them. Then fear creeps in and it tells us we’re not enough, we’re messing them up, we’re not as good as our neighbor, they’re going to hate us when they grow up…
Fear drives us to seek affirmations. Where’s the best place to receive blind affirmations? The Internet! We jump into a debate. We point out someone else’s flaws and bada bing bada boom I’m mom of the year! At least I don’t do _____! At least I didn’t let my kid do _____! I would never let ____ happen to my child! Then I’m riding high! Fear causes us to look down on others and dig our heels deeply into pride.
The antidote to blind criticism is an open heart, mercy, grace, and love. The antidote to rude, hateful comments on a Facebook post is the truth spoken gently in love and in private. The antidote for judgment is seeking understanding and perspective. We all need each other in parenting! It can be very lonely and defeating…let’s not make it harder on each other. Instead let’s hold each other up, offer love, give gently loving advice, and respect our differences.