We all do it. It’s a fact. Us humans just love to judge other people. I would even go as far as to say that it is an inherent reflex that manifests itself when we don’t understand a situation or even feel threatened by a situation. The way some people are or choose to live their lives may, on a subconscious level, threaten our own belief system and so we judge.
A couple of days ago I had a long-overdue phone conversation with a dear friend. After all the usual catch-up repertoire we drifted onto a conversation that prompted me to put on my ‘judgy-pants’…
A mother in a supermarket gave into the demands of her screaming child and bought them ANOTHER sweet, after the child had finished the first one before they had managed to leave the store. Upon realising that she didn’t have the money to buy another one, she requested money from my friend, as she felt the situation was urgent.
…Even as I type this I can feel my judgy-pants crawling back up my thighs and placing themselves into position. But we’re not going there today.
Parenting can be a vicious arena- there are so many Do’s and Don’ts. So many styles and beliefs as to what good parenting really is. As someone who co-parents I have learned that the key to a happier and more successful co-parenting journey is to leave the judgement at the door! And if you can’t do that when you hear stories about total strangers in supermarkets then you should, at a minimum, aim to achieve a non-judgemental attitude when listening to your own child’s experiences with the other parent.
Accept that the other parent is probably going to have a different approach to parenting than you do. It is also worth bearing in mind that in certain high-pressure situations (like a supermarket tantrum) we all react differently and can be caught off guard. When co-parenting we should also bare in mind that your child now has another life with the other parent that dissent involve you, and we need to be open and accepting of this.
Be poised towards hearing about the things your little ones get up to when with the other parent. Sometimes parenting can seem like a competition; Dad might have taken the children out of town for the day and let them choose whatever food they wanted at the up-market restaurant they dined in. Let me assure you that in successful co-parent there is no time for petty competition. It is unsustainable and can make you miserable. Snarky remarks are also a huge no-no. Your kid doesn’t need to hear it and shouldn’t have to. The negative remarks or comments you make may also impact your children in a way that it makes them stop sharing their experiences with you.
Dee plays a lot of video games at Padre’s house, for example. There are so many characters and developments to learn about that sometimes it can be a bit too much for me. Add to the equation that, personally, I am pretty against children of a certain age being sat in front of a screen for extended periods of time and it can be tricky to remain balanced when hearing about what Dee has been getting up to over the weekend.
The point here, I have learned, is that if at this stage we are not receptive to what our children tell us we risk not knowing about important aspects of their life. They stop telling us things and we risk giving the impression that we are not interested or do not care. Over time listening without judgement will certainly pay off and enable us to maintain positive and fulfilling parent-child relationships, which ultimately is what we are aiming for.