Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged

Matthew 7

1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.



I received a comment yesterday that got me thinking. A woman told me that her three daughters were well behaved and she implied my kids act up because of my lazy parenting. I really don't think she was trying to be mean. I think she simply doesn't understand that not all kids are the same and it's not all about the parenting, but about the kids and their different personalities as well. Anyway, I started thinking about this and in all honesty, if I only considered my three daughters, I probably wouldn't have much material for this blog. They're well behaved. I don't have problems with them. Now, I'm not saying that boys are bad or that I don't like my boys or anything remotely like that, but I will say that my boys are the root of the behavior issues in this house 99% of the time. Jackson has ADHD and can't take meds because they cause high blood pressure for him. Until you've spent a day with a kid whose brain doesn't have that little switch that makes them stop and think before they act, you can't begin to presume I'm a lazy parent. And Clay hasn't had any official diagnosis, but I'd bet big money that he has it too. I have six kids and they're all VERY different. They all have their own personalities. And they all react differently to instruction. I'm not getting into all this here because I've already written about it in my book. I did want to talk about judging others though.

Before I had kids and even when I just had a couple kids and things were calm and well ordered around my house, I did judge other parents out there. I kept my opinions to myself but they were there. There were several times that I thought I was better than someone else - the mom, frazzled and yelling at her child; the parent feeding their toddler fast food; the house that was a giant mess; the child throwing an all-out tantrum. Maybe it's just human nature to compare others to ourselves and decide who is better.

After having several children, some of whom are very difficult in nature, I see things differently. And after putting myself out there with this blog and being the subject of judgement from strangers, I REALLY see things differently. It's easy to judge someone else and decide that they're incompetent when things are going well for you. When I'm out with the kids and they're all behaving like angels and we're smiling and having a good ole time, it would be easy to look at the mom who is ready to pull her hair out and is almost in tears as she half-runs to catch up with her 2 year old and half-drags her pouting 4 year old behind her. It's easy to look at them and think, "MY kids would never act like that in public. I know how to discipline them. What a shame."

Well guess what - your day will come. Replace that holier-than-thou attitude with one of compassion. The last thing that mom needs is a condescending look from someone who, based on a brief glimpse, has judged her as incompetent. Give that frazzled mom a look that doesn't condemn her, but affirms that she's not alone. A look that says - I understand; I'm sorry you're having a tough time; it's ok.

I tell my kids all the time - you never know who your words and actions are going to effect. The kid in school who is a loner and gets picked on, just might end up being the kid who loses it, brings a gun to school, shoots several innocent kids and himself. What if instead of judging him, based on your preconceived notions, you befriend him? What if you say, "Come sit with us" at lunchtime? Maybe instead of being overcome with depression next year, he'll find that he does indeed fit in somewhere. Maybe you'll discover that kid who everyone called strange, is actually a really nice, funny guy. I'm telling you, don't judge others. Let your words and actions be a blessing to them.

Even if you think you know all about the other person or the situation, you don't. Not until you've walked a mile in their shoes, can you truly understand. And you certainly don't know enough about a person or situation from reading a few lines on a blog. And I'm not just talking about myself. I mean ANY blog out there. Too often I hear from other bloggers that they've gotten nasty, hateful, or judgemental emails/comments from people. Just recently Peggy, from CarePages - ColemanScott, got some negative mail over the dumbest thing. Peggy is the sweetest woman with amazing faith and certainly didn't do anything to deserve negativity from ignorant people. (By the way, if you haven't already, check out her Care Page. She has 2 of the most adorable boys and I love how she writes phonetically the way the boys talk. It's too cute!)Anyway, I digress. All I want to say is - For crying out loud people, can't we all just get along?!!!

228 comments:

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Anonymous said...

When my first child (of five) was born, my mom (also a mother of five) told me, "Never say anything about anyone else's kids, because you never know what yours will do."

Best advice I ever received.

Your blog and I have coffee together every morning. I love it. -Ruth

Kelly said...

Very well said! I too, was one of those parents that thought I could control my children. Like you, we have 6, we have 4 boys though, and only 2 girls. Boys, nuf, said!

Anonymous said...

"I'd like to be the ideal mother, but I'm too busy raising my kids." - Unknown

This is one of my favorite quotes :) I'm a fellow mom of a 6 pack. I was also the mom that said I would never allow my child to go out in public in a bathing suit and rain boots. I would never allow my child to be seen with snot crust in their nose....
WELL, let me tell you, I got a wake up call early from my toddlers...I am that mom, and DAMN proud of it.
Kids will be kids, unless you are raising robots.
It is what makes life spicy, and worth it.
People who judge are those with fairy tale lives, and are too shallow to admit that they have downfalls as well.
I'm going to go have a drink :)

God Bless you for standing up for yourself and all of the other "normal" moms out there.

Nancy in OR

Sheila said...

People who are great at giving parenting advice fall into two categories:

1. People who are not yet parents;

2. People whose children you will never meet.

You will never meet her kids; you just have to take it for granted that her kids are well-behaved. Who knows if they really are?

As far as I'm concerned, we should really only give advice when:

1. We are asked for it
2. We have a genuine give and take relationship with someone built on friendship and respect.

Other than that, we should SHUT UP!

Love ya Dawn!

Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

Juls said...

I so applaud you for saying what you did..

Just last night we went to dinner with our Sunday School group. I have a 10 year old son with ADD/ADHD and I have 5 year old twins (boy/girl).

Yesterday was the last day of school and there was plenty of excitement in the air.

Kids at one table, adults at the table next to them. My two boys acted like they hadn't been in a restaurant and around other humans EVER. You would have thought I opened up the closet door and said 'c'mon out and we'll introduce you to the human race today. They acted like complete nimrods. The girl...angel. She just sat there and ate her dinner and played quietly with her little friends.

For all you moms and dads out there that think your kids are perfect all the time. Expect it when you least expect it. They will sprout a second and third head....eventually. Your kids are no better than mine.

People (some known as friends) have referred to my 5 year old son as the "evil" twin. They are so missing out on getting to know the real kid. He is as sweet as they come and loves his mommy to the end. He cuddles with me and is the best little helper. Someday I hope he manages to kick their perfect kids butts! No, I don't condone fighting, but it sure would be nice to see.....just once.

Dawn you are so right on the money. Don't judge me until you walked in the shoes that I walk in. ANY mom, and I mean ANY MOM who deals with a child with ADD/ADHD deserves a congressional medal of honor. Its a daily struggle and the whole family deals with it.

Dawn, you my sista, you are a ROCK STAR!! Thanks for doing what you do!

jacki jones said...

Even perfect parents who do everything right sometimes have kids that decide they are going on a completely different path. Recently, my daughters, now 20 and 18, got into a heated discussion about how they were raised. They saw the same situations from different perspectives. Dawn, I've been reading your blog for a while and you seem like the most relaxed, normal, patient, and dedicated mom in the world. Those who feel as if they can critize because they are so "perfect", should drop to their knees and thank God for the reprieve. In one way or another, it's coming!
We have 5 kids, three girls then 2 boys. So, you beat us by one boy. Do you see my white flag waving??

RefreshMom said...

Isn't it interesting that if you read between the lines of that criticism, it looks like they beat their oldest soundly enough that the younger ones don't dare misbehave. (I also think there's a degree of amnesia that sets in once your kids hit double digits and you forget the pain of toddlerhood and young school age just like you "forget" the pain of childbirth.") Our first son is one who made us look like good parents. I had enough sense to know though, that he came that way and my job was not to mess him up. His brother, on the other hand, is the child that will make us into good parents (because there's very little that's easy about him!)

Yep, parents who have no trouble with their kids are either lucky, or liars or so severe that they won't see how messed up their kids are until they're grown and do their misbehaving once they're out from under the tyranny.

Hang in there and know that you don't owe anyone like that an explanation. Some people don't get it and will never get it. There are no perfect kids and there are probably fewer perfect parents. The rest of us in the real world do the best we can and pray that God's grace will make up for the rest!

The Gang's All Here! said...

I heard someone say once, "I was a perfect parent, till I had kids!" in reference to this very conversation!

Well said, and a great reminder to us all. And when you see a harried, stressed mom - offer a helping hand. We can all make the day more bearable if we come alongside one another rather than standing in judgment pointing a finger!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank you for your post. I read your blog everyday and have never posted before now. It's nice to have a reminder of judgmental looks. I am a single mom to a 3year old boy(all boy) who is advanced and behaves somewhat like those with ADD/ADHD. It's hard, and yes, I feel as though I had a day like yours with only one kiddo.

Emily

Kelly Morgan said...

Dawn: Good post. We recently adopted our 3 children after having custody of them for a year and a half. They are 6, 3, and one (the baby we got at birth). I have had several people comment on their behavior, my son also has adhd, and people don't know the whole situation, they dont know what kinds of life these kids have already overcome, and how they must feel. So I agree, we need to not judge until we walk a mile in their shoes. Good post.

Julie S. said...

Amen!!
I am a single mother of three boys. My middle child has ADD but is, for the most part, a pretty easy child. However, my youngest has ADHD and is not on medication yet because he is too young and my oldest has a severe mood disorder with ADHD type symtoms. That boy passed difficult a looong time ago. He looks like any other nine year old kid, but everyonce in a while he will have a complete meltdown and behave horrendously. Normal parenting techniques do not work with kids with these disorders, so I have to deal with him differently. After nine years of this I have learned to ignore the looks I get from other people, but it would be nice if just once someone gave me a look of compassion instead of judgement, or better yet offered to help!

mary said...

Too funny. I totally had "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" running through my head just the other day!

Oh, and my kids are totally different. The one that drives me craziest is just like me!! EEK!

Alicia said...

Amen, sistah! Awesome blog! I think I was the judgemental mom until I had child #3. I keep saying that he's lucky God made him as cute as he is ornery!

Michelle a.k.a. MOM said...

Thank you! What a great post! I always read, but usually don't comment because I figure you've got your hands full already. However, this was so good I had to say, THANK YOU! Your adventures and mishaps help me remember I'm not alone when I'm dealing with my two boys having their own less than perfect moments. The laughter is always needed and appreciated too! Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I have been in the store with my 5 year old son when he has just completely lost it!! I always get so embarrassed because so many times I see dirty looks from other mothers, I mean come on, seriously like their kids have never thrown a tantrum in a store before. I have had those bad days before where I am almost in tears, but thank you to those women who do give me the look of "I've been there, it'll be fine".

Julie said...

Dawn,
Wouldn't it be nice if all children were the same and we never had to use the "crazy lady" voice or the severe discipline plans.

I have a boy and a girl. My son could be ADHD and my daughter is the classic strong willed child. It is fortunate for some that they never have to read every book that Dobson ever wrote, consult help outside the home or take a time out for yourself in the laundry room, yet most people don't have that gift, and it is a gift.

I am amazed at your courage to share your life with us and encourage us. Thank you for keeping us laughing and sharing your daily adventures. I learn from you and appreciate your perspective on the world.

Vicki said...

Great post - I have a daughter who is now 26 and a son who is 21. My son had ADHD, ODD, and was/is a challenge to raise. You are right about walking in a person's shoes before you feel compelled to judge them. I have so much compassion for a struggling parent - sometimes it seems that all that you do is wrong - but faith is what will help you keep holding on. I know there were times when I couldn't even pull myself up with my bootstraps, I was so low that I couldn't even reach the bootstraps - but faith and love got me through the most difficult years. Hang in there....

davemaz said...

OK, I admit I'm a granddad who reads this column for (1) entertainment, and (2) insight. This column is a bit more serious than usual, but reinforces my advice to my kids (who are approaching their 30s, one with 2 3/4 kids, one hoping for one in the next couple of years). The only truth I know about kids is the last time I knew every thing there was to know about raising kids was . . . just before my first one was born. It's been a journey of discovery since then. Thanks for the insight.

Crystal said...

People's perception of what "acting up" is entirely different also. And I think Dawn is being nice, when trying to take it with a grain of salt, quite frankly, I don't think the lady meant it in a "nice" way at all. With my six, I get it all the time, even when they're behaving perfectly, people give us dirty looks... while the 14 year old couple with thier two kids throwing things out of the cart and screaming are getting polite smiles. It comes from all walks of life, and if you don't know the person, just forget about it. If you know the person, by all means, you MUST say something. Let her know that because of your lazy parenting, you will be a top selling author soon! Because of your lazy parenting, your children are happy and loved. Because of your lazy parenting, God decided you should have six and she should have three! I could go on.......

Jennifer in Houston said...

This made me think of your blog and some of the ridiculous ideas of what a good mother is (don't know who originally wrote it). From one Real Mom to another! :)


Mommy to Mom to Mother

Real Mothers don't eat quiche; they don't have time to make it.

Real Mothers know that their kitchen utensils are probably in the sandbox.

Real Mothers often have sticky floors, filthy ovens and happy kids.

Real Mothers know that dried play dough doesn't come out of carpets.

Real Mothers don't want to know what the vacuum just sucked up.

Real Mothers sometimes ask "Why me?" and get their answer when a little voice says, "Because I love you best."

Real Mothers know that a child's growth is not measured by height or years or grade...It is marked by the progression of Mommy to Mom to Mother...

The Images of Mother

4 YEARS OF AGE - My Mommy can do anything!

8 YEARS OF AGE - My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot!

12 YEARS OF AGE - My Mother doesn't really know quite everything.

14 YEARS OF AGE - Naturally, Mother doesn't know that, either.

16 YEARS OF AGE - Mother? She's hopelessly old-fashioned.

18 YEARS OF AGE - That old woman? She's way out of date!

25 YEARS OF AGE - Well, she might know a little bit ! about it .

35 YEARS OF AGE - Before we decide, let's get Mom ' s opinion.

45 YEARS OF AGE - Wonder what Mom would have thought about it?

65 YEARS OF AGE - Wish I could talk it over with Mom.

Kami said...

Must be nice to have perfect kids huh? I know I don't. I am not the perfect parent either. I love your stories.

I was at Kroger's drive up window for the pharmecy the other day. Normally I would go in because it is a total pain to get my Durango up in that driveway, but my 8mth old was asleep....FINALLY. I did not want to wake her up. She badly needed her nap.

They were especially busy in there that afternoon. I had dropped of my prescriptions, then ran some errands, grabbed lunch for myself and my 6 yr old and was now back to get my scripts. I still ended up sitting at that window for over 10 minutes before someone even acknowledged me. Anyway...as I am sitting there, a woman with a about 3-4 yr old and maybe 6/7 yr old walks buy and I hear her say very LOUDLY " Some people just can't be bothered to park and walk inside!" and she was looking right at me!

How flippin' rude! She does not know me or my situation! She does not know my 8mthold is asleep after a long day of teething crabbiness and 4 hours of sleep! Or that my MILITARY husband is gone AGAIN for the 2nd time this year. Last time was all of April. He was home 11 days day and then left May 12th (makes only the 2nd Mother's Day that he has been home since 2001 when I was pregnant with our 6 yr old!) and will be gone this time 6-8 weeks straight! So I am dealing with all this crap ALONE!

I so badly wanted to park, wake up the baby so she could start screaming again and tell her off! Explain to her how crazy my life has been this year.
Let's see....January after a brief weekend visit with my Mom, my husband and kids took turns being ill. Then my grandmother passed away. Then we were told we would have to move again by May 2008 (we just got here to Ga in May 2007 after 4 yrs overseas). Then more sick kids and hubby.
Easter Sunday we made it to church for the 1st time since New Years. Then we were told that no, we aren't moving. We will be here at least 3 more years. Great, so I start getting involved in church more and play groups more and make a few friends. One very good friend.
April, hubby is gone the whole month. Comes home and says by the way we are for sure moving in Feb/March 2009, not later than June 09! He was home 11 days and left again May 12th.
My poor son, this makes the 2nd summer in a row that his Dad has been gone. We added it up and in our year here, hubby has been gone more than 6mths of it!

Then i could ask her, so would you like to exchange lives!? Is it really that horrible that I took advantage of a drive up window in order to let my daughter get a much needed nap that gave me a few more minutes of peace which helps me regain my sanity????

So she knows nothing about me or my life but judges me because just this one I chose to drive up instead of go in. yeah, I am so horrible. UGH. People really erk me sometimes!

Lolly said...

First let me say that, while the internet gives us the opportunity to access incredible amounts of information and to share thoughts and ideas in a public forum that allows us to surpass that 15 minutes if fame theory... it also gives unkind people the anonymity to criticize in ways they would never do face to face.

As for parenting, I have two grown and one almost grown child. I parented the three similarly. My daughter (the oldest) and her youngest brother (the youngest) have both been incredibly easy, exceptionally intelligent and very successful.

My middle child has been a struggle from the start, has been into trouble at home, at school, and even with the police.

If I take credit for the troubles my son has brought upon himself, I'd feel just as entitled to take credit for all the successes of the two who have reached impressive goals. But truth is, I parented, they absorbed -- in different ways according to their abilities and personalities.

They are who they are not because of me but because of how God made them. And I thank him for ALL of them every day and love each of them as much as the other.

Thank you Dawn for sharing your life in a fun and open way. I'm among an obviously huge circle of fans who think you do an amazing job and you leave me laughing every time I read your post!

DonnaP said...

Dawn...about that judging thing, completely agree...how easy it is for someone with no children to give that evil eye to a stressed parent. But what is great about having your children grown, and now spoiling your grandchildren, is when I see that woman who's kids are less than perfect, I can smile and laugh to myself, thinknig been there done that. Of course there are the times where I think "take the kid home and give him a nap", and there are the times watching a 12 year old have a temper tantrum because they can not get something in the grocery store makes me think there are other issues with that relationship, but all in all, anyone who judges has no clue.

Sally said...

Dawn,
Just have fun messing with those judgemental souls! One of my fondest memories was a time my husband and I took the kids to the mall and had a few of my best friend's kids with us as well...to the best of my recollection we had seven kids with us all told from a baby up to about eight years old. One lady looked at us and said,"OH MY GOD!! Are they ALL yours?" (talk about a judgement!) My husband quick as a wink and totally deadpan replied, "oh no we left our teenager home with the twins..." We walked away with a smirk on our face as her jaw dropped to the ground!!

Melissa said...

As a teenager I had a terribly judgemental pastor who constantly criticized the parenting of others and always bragged on his "perfect" children. Guess whose daughter became a teenage parent? Pride comes before a fall. He was certainly humbled and that woman will be also. I just hope it's not at her children's expense.

Anonymous said...

Preach it sister. I completely agree. We've all had those days when we wish we could pretend that those screaming, fighting kids in the grocery store are not ours. But as every senior citizen tells me when I'm out with my crew(after they say, "my goodness you have your hands full don't you?" of course) enjoy them now because they grow up so fast. Keep inspiring us Dawn.

Becky said...

When I read the post in question, I was thinking, oh yes, I have had those days, too. And that is what I love about reading posts like this - I know that I'm not alone. Furthermore, I find it impossible to believe that the judgmental commenter (or any mom) has never had one of those days with her own children.

And I agree with you, there is such a huge difference in boy children v. girl children. Having a boy is is like Extreme Parenting. Having more than one boy? I can't even imagine.

Honestly, I can't see how a parent of more than one child can still sit in judgment of other parents. When I had just one, it was easier to imagine that my parenting dictated his behavior. Having two, with totally different personalities and attitudes, has made me realize that a lot of this is out of my hands. And that there's no one-style-fits-all set of parenting rules.

Keep on rocking, Dawn. Love your blog!

Anonymous said...

Dear Dawn,

Loved this post! I hope that more moms will treat one another with more compassion and less judgement. We are all guilty of this at times but what a wonderful gift when you receive a kind nod instead of a scowl at the grocery store. I never knew true humbling until I took my twin boys out shopping for a day! Best to you.

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