Every parent is guilty of judgement of other parents. Whether it be their parenting style, their discipline methods, their hygiene or dietary prerogative, etc. We are also all guilty of judging other people’s kids – but that’s a whole other blog… We all find ourselves at one point or another saying “I love how they did that _____, I want to remember to do that with my kids”, or “eesh I’ll never treat my kids like that.” Guilty as charged. We all do it. But what happens when the words of a parent appear just plain mean? Not when spoken to the child necessarily, but when spoken about that child to another adult or other children.
I was a teacher in childcare for 5 years or so, and now being a parent there have been several “habits” of other adults – not always other parents – that have really started to hit a sore spot for me. Mainly I am finding it very hard to accept anyone speaking ill of a child. Especially when this person should be the one that is supporting and standing up for the child. To be very specific I have two examples that I’ve come across – both recently and as part of my teaching experience.
When I was a teacher there were always those “problem children”. Unfortunately these kiddos seem to struggle in a number of tasks and are forever deemed as “problems” or “pain-in-the-asses”. Even as teachers we fall into the trap of not being able to like every kid that crosses our path. It’s the unwritten rule though that teachers of all people should love all of their students. And we do, each in their own way, but as Kate Hudson puts it in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days – “I love you…but I don’t have to like you right now.” Same goes for teachers. And really for parents too… Anyway, it’s silly to think that every person will get along with everyone right? So why would you expect every child to get along with every adult and visa-versa? Sometimes people just clash. Yet in the teaching profession it is not acceptable to mock, speak ill of, or degrade a child in any way. Not acceptable. Now it obviously happens, but I’ve found it increasingly annoying to hear any of these types of disrespect towards a child coming from an adult who should be someone in a supportive role for that kid. You may not agree with the way that child has been brought up, you may think that child needs to learn how to sit still or how to listen better, and that child may get on your very last nerve. I’ve been there – I know that some kids just drive you crazy, and I’m sure that I’ve been one of the guilty ones who’s talked badly about this child or that child. But there is just something about listening to another adult speak ill of a child that gets to me.
The most specific example I have of this occurred recently and is really probably a better way of explaining why this particular type of talk gets to me. In this instance the parent is a step-parent. Now I know nothing about the relationship between a child and a step-parent. So excuse me if I am totally off base here and over-judging. But as a parent on any level, how can you complain about a child? How can you complain about a child that you are caring for? The role of a parent in this case differs from the role of a teacher, so in my mind it is completely wrong to place judgement on your own child. In most cases, children are doing the best with what they have been given in life. Yet somehow the blame for the child’s actions go punishable onto the child themselves. So why does this parent feel the need to speak ill of this child to me? Or why does any adult/parent/teacher feel that it is OK to speak ill of any child to anyone else?
This is something that I’m really struggling with today. How do you react to a comment made about a child that you know nothing about, but whom probably doesn’t deserve to be degraded in this way? And worse is knowing that I’ve done this myself as a teacher and been fed up with certain children. Do we think that we will get support for feeling this way? I feel like that is really the only explanation for needing to air such dirty laundry to other people. But how do you not almost take it personally when someone speaks badly to you about a child you know nothing about?
Do other parents struggle with this? How do you react without placing further judgement onto the child or the adult themselves? How do you mind your own business while supporting your friend or fellow parent with their struggles?