Don't Be A Judgy B If You Don't Wanna Be Judged Back
One day it might be your child in the hot seat and you will need support instead of judgment.
I caught myself passing judgment on a teenager the other day. A friend was explaining how her daughter was struggling with anxiety and had been calling her mother at work constantly, feeling so overwhelmed with homework that she wasn't doing it.
“She’s fine when she’s busy and socializing, but when her boyfriend is with his friends, or doesn't have plans with her friends, she won’t take care of herself. I’ve told her she might want to get a job because she’s calling me constantly or showing up at my work,” she told me. I could tell she was frustrated, but more than that, she was very concerned about her daughter’s behavior.
I opened my mouth to say, “Maybe she needs some tough love,” but I stopped myself. It wasn’t that long ago my daughter was struggling with anxiety and depression. I tried to convince her to get a job and get more involved in school but she wouldn’t. I realized there was no way I could force her either. The more I tried to talk her into things like joining a club or applying for a job, the more isolated she became.
Friends and family started asking me what her problem was and told me I needed to “make” her do more. Not only did I feel incredibly judged, but I was also frustrated. Trying to make my teen do something she didn’t want to or wasn’t mentally capable of felt like a losing battle. For both of us.
What I needed was a trusted person to listen to me vent my frustrations. I needed someone who wouldn’t give me unsolicited advice and didn’t look at my daughter like there was something wrong with her and that she was a spoiled brat. To be honest, that’s how I felt about many people I thought I could turn to.
When my friend was talking to me that day, I realized that she needed the same from me. And here I was doing the exact thing to her and her daughter that I didn’t want to be done to my family and me. So I shut my mouth and let her talk without interrupting, giving advice, or making her feel like she was doing anything wrong.
I thought about how in the past if someone told me about a kid who got caught smoking pot, vaping or drinking, my mind automatically judged their parenting and their child. Then, my kids got caught doing some of these things, and the last thing I needed was for people to judge my kids and me.
When our teens are going through a hard time or giving us a hard time as parents, we are already passing enough judgment on ourselves. We are trying everything we can to rectify the situation. And it doesn’t help our kids or us if we feel judged by others — especially those who don’t know enough about our lives and situations.
It felt incredibly personal when my son got suspended for fighting in school and other parents made comments to me or family members thought I wasn’t punishing him enough. When my daughter struggled with anxiety, I could tell those who knew about it treated her differently, even if they didn’t mean to.
All of those reactions felt like judgment. While it’s very easy to say you should parent in a way that’s best for you and your family and ignore what others think, it’s quite another to be able to do it.
Judgment is something we all do, whether we are conscious of it or not. In my experience with my teens and their peers, I’ve realized I need to voice my opinion less or give any advice unless it’s asked for.
Simply listening and not partaking in the gossip about what other teens are doing goes a long way. It might be your child in the hot seat and you will need support instead of judgment.
People remember if you’ve judged their kids and their situation. And even if it’s not reciprocated, I’d rather be remembered as someone who didn’t point the finger or make another parent feel worse than they already do about something their kids had done.