Judge, judged, judging and judgement. I feel these words come up all too often on the subject of parenting. Whether it be a conversation with my partner, a family member, or friend, about an experience had, a situation seen in public, something on social media etc., the question has been raised numerous times, ‘why are we judging each other?’ Parenthood is the most rewarding experience, but also the most challenging. The constant judgement by others and ourselves, makes the challenges more difficult, not to mention the impact it has on our mental health. In a world where we can communicate instantaneously, sharing every move, thought or feeling freely, I feel it is important that we talk about judgement, and without judgement.
For the sake of how we think about others and how we think about ourselves as parents, I think we need to be reminded of a few things (yes, yes, myself included). I’m not a Scientist (so no judging), but I feel it could be helpful to go back to our Science lessons at school where we learnt about controls, controlled variables and variables. If we consider the control group to be us as parents, we need to remember that there can be many different variables, and that when there are different variables in play, there will be different outcomes.
In many aspects, we parents are all the same. We are all striving to be the best we can be, and to raise our children to be the best they can be. We are all juggling a million things – finances, relationships, running our households, keeping little humans alive, etc. We are all trying to balance our needs and wants with our kids needs and wants (we know who wins here..). We all have our struggles, and we are all constantly learning about life and parenthood. As these things are often the same for us all, we could say these things are ‘controlled variables’.
Whilst we may have similarities, we most definitely have differences. We all look different, think differently and feel differently. We have different bodies that function differently, we like different things, dislike different things, have different values and beliefs etc. Just as we are all different, our journeys as parents are different too. Some of us have one child, some of us have several children. Some of us are solo parents, some of us have partners. Some of us work, some of us stay at home. Some of us have singletons, some of us have multiples. Some of us have had greater difficulty falling pregnant. Some of us have boys, some of us have girls and some of us have both. Some of us have children with special needs. Some of us have good feeders, some of us have good sleepers, some of us have neither, and some of us (you lucky ones) have both. Although I have only touched on a few, the point is that there are so many things that can be different about our situations. There are so many ‘variables’ that make our journeys unique.
The next time we look at another person, whether firsthand or online, and make judgements about them or about ourselves, let’s pause and be mindful of a few things. We have all been raised and shaped in unique ways, which means that we think differently and feel differently. After all, how boring would life be if we were all the same!? Our experiences, both the positive and the challenging are unique to us, and therefore we cannot place the same expectations on ourselves and others. Whilst our methods might be different, and we don’t yet know the results of our experiments, we all share the same goal, to raise our children to be the best they can be, and we are all learning along the way. So, let’s celebrate our differences, judge less, compliment more, share our experiences and support each other. Let’s enjoy the ride together!