Healthy Living
Opinion

Dear Strangers: You Don’t Get to Judge Parents. Ever.

parenting, tough parenting
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Imagine it’s your night out during a busy week and you decide to treat yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant with your friends. You’re hoping for a relaxing outing filled with pleasant conversation and much-needed laughter. However, your night is completely interrupted by two small children and their parents, seated just a few tables away. Over the course of the evening, you hear arguing and crying, see tantrums and spilled drinks, and find yourself wishing you had just stayed home.

We’ve all been there. No matter where we are, there is always that one parent who just can’t seem to control their kids. And chances are at times like these you’ve had thoughts like, “I can’t believe that mom is letting her child act that way”, “What terrible parenting”, and “I would never let my kid do that”. You can’t control those intrusive thoughts, you’re only human after all. But no matter how badly you’d like to throw that parent an annoyed look, give an angry remark, or post a criticizing comment on social media, it is better for all of us if you resist. In fact, I would even go so far as to say you should never judge parents in the first place. Ever.

Why You Should Never Judge Parents

When it comes to parenting and childcare, everyone has an opinion. What to teach, how to discipline, when to reward, what to feed, which toys to buy, etc. Parents are constantly asked to make decisions, solve problems, and help the kids survive another day happy and healthy. This is not an easy task in the slightest! But on top of all that, many parents are met with judgment about their parenting techniques, no matter what they are. Everybody is a critic—and every parenting practice has advocates of the exact opposite. Parents just can’t win.

Regardless of whether or not you have children of your own, there are many reasons why you should never judge parents for the way they choose to raise their children.

1. You Can’t See the Big Picture

First and foremost, remember that you are only seeing a small moment of that family’s day. You might observe a terrible tantrum and a seemingly careless parent. But what you don’t see are the many hours, days, and weeks before that moment of the parent trying desperately to get their child to behave. Or they could simply be having a bad day—like we all do! You’ll never know exactly where they’re coming from, so it’s best to give the kid and the parent the benefit of the doubt.

2. Everyone Is Different

Every parent is different, every child is different, and every situation is different. You may think you have a better solution, but what might work for you probably doesn’t work in the same way for someone else. If found in their exact situation you might have found yourself doing exactly the same thing.  

3. They Are Doing Their Best

I find that the best way to keep from judging someone is to imagine that they are truly doing the best they can. Again, you don’t have the whole picture. How horrible would it be to find out that the mother you scoffed at had just lost her husband in a car wreck? Or if the child you whispered about had a serious disability? It’s impossible to have all the information about someone else’s situation. Therefore, the best thing we can do is approach each situation with openness and compassion. You may be able to help someone or even learn something!

Replace Judgement With Empathy

Maybe the parent you see isn’t using the best techniques to control their kids, the child acts this way every day, and the family is not in any kind of crisis at the moment. But even then, you should never judge parents. Does it suck to have your night out interrupted by a family of crying children? Maybe. But choosing to judge or shame them doesn’t make the situation any better. Kids or no kids, offering compassion, empathy, or even a helping hand is much better than a judging eye. Remember, small acts of kindness—such as smiling at a stressed-out dad, offering napkins for spilled drinks, or making faces to cheer up a crying child—really do go a long way.

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Emilyn Gil

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