I feel like almost every parenting wrong move is predicated by one thing: fear of judgement. Whether it’s from your spouse, your mom, your Facebook friends, imaginary people in the future, or just your fellow Target shoppers, every parent has some kind of voice in their head about being judged.
Let’s break down what judgement is, first of all: judgement is the ego, or our protective shell, chiming in with some delusion that we are separate from others, and saying here is a valid example of why we are better than them.
Ego is essentially your own personal evil cheerleader, trying to both protect you and build you up, but preventing you from truly living because it’s the voice of fear.
Our egos are created when we are young children, the first time the world (usually our parents) taught us it was a dangerous place.
Whether it was a spanking, being yelled at, a time out or being sent to our room, a cruel classmate or a bully – something happened to our bubbly, loving, innocent selves that caused us to create a protective shell.
It sticks with us throughout our life from that point on, and while protection is good, living in fear is not. Most of the population today is living in fear, bound to this false idea that everyone is separate and it’s one big competition for a limited number of resources.
So anyway, back to parenting, when your child has a meltdown in a store, if you are afraid of what others might think, you are far more likely to react rather than respond in a supportive way for your child.
I remember one time when we were leaving Chick-Fil-A and my daughter was exploring our van like it was the rainforest of the Amazon and my husband made some grumpy remark about just sitting her down so we could go. At first I continued to be patient and detached, asking her to please sit down as we needed to leave (to go literally one block over), but then my ego picked up that remark and was like yeah, just sit her down so you can get to Best Buy and look for that thing you need, and then I did just grab her and put her in her carseat.
UGH! I can’t tell you how terrible I felt when she looked at me incredulously, so obviously hurt by what I’d just done.. the guilt was overwhelming and right away I was trying to apologize profusely. My heart broke in a million pieces when she yelled through her tears, “You’re NOT my best friend!!” That night in bed (after the storm had passed) I made sure to explain that I had made a mistake and we talked about what I could do when we need to go so she knows to just climb into her seat.
I’m asking you to dare to give zero f#$&s about what any other person thinks of you or your child, ever. The ONLY person’s opinion about how you parent that matters is YOUR CHILD’S. Every single interaction is setting up their programming for their entire life.
You are not doing this for ANYONE ELSE but your child. Are you nurturing your fellow Target shoppers or your husband? Are you setting up their lifetime programming? Are you developing a responsible, kind, knowledgeable adult out of your own parent?
Nope, nope, and a big fat nope.
Only your child matters.
So LIKEWISE, let’s all pledge to never, ever judge period, first of all, but to never judge a parent by their child’s behavior.
If you want to, get curious about the kind of parent adults must have had. Look at the news, at all of the tragedy, and really get curious about where these adults in crisis must have learned violence from. Get curious about your own parents. What were they taught? How was their behavior shaped? Did they endure violence?
But not children. They are still developing and learning and testing their limits.
Each child is on their own journey and will make their own choices, regardless of what their parents model.
Parents have a challenging job of being their child’s emotional coach, and let’s give them all a big pat on the back for doing it – for holding the space now – so when these children are adults and they get sad or mad about something, they don’t project all of that onto others in the form of tragic violence.
Let’s thank the parents that are teaching emotional intelligence instead of shame and fear.
Let’s thank the parents that give a s#!t and fix their own s#!t so they don’t pass it down to their kids.
Let’s thank the parents that know their kid has big needs so they take the time to fill themselves up first, so they are not just completely depleted at the end of every day.
Everyone is doing the best they can. If you feel compelled to judge a child tantruming, stop and ask yourself what lesson that discomfort might be there to teach you. What is your story around a screaming kid? What did your parents or culture lead you to believe about screaming? How did your parents react when you cried?