A few weeks ago, we stopped for dinner on our way to Florida for a family vacation, and after we ate, I ushered the three big girls to the bathroom for one more potty break before we hit the road again.
On the way, the woman at the table next to ours stopped us and complimented me on the girls’ behavior. She complimented me as their mom, rather than them, even though it was their good behavior she noticed.
Yes, I initially felt momma pride, because our girls are really well behaved (most of the time) in restaurants. But then, as I thought about it more, I wondered what she would have thought of us if the baby had been teething or the six-year-old had been sulking or the three-year-old had thrown a fit?
Would she have decided that we were bad parents? Would she have judged us as being too young or too lenient? Would she have concluded that we simply had too many kids?
A few days later, as we walked toward a mall entrance in Florida, the overtired and teething baby had a complete meltdown because I picked her up in the parking lot. She was screaming, thrashing and kicking, completely inconsolable.
There were dozens of people around, watching this scene unfold, and I couldn’t help but wonder what they thought.
Did they decide that we were bad parents? Did they judge us as being too young or too lenient? Did they conclude that we simply had too many kids?
So often, parents are judged by a snapshot of their children’s behavior, even without knowing the whole story. And whether the behavior in that moment is good or bad, it’s really not an accurate picture of the whole child.
Instead of judging…
…share an understanding smile.
…remember the times your children have done the same.
…think about how you would feel if someone judged you based on your child’s worst behavior.
…whisper encouragement as you pass by.
…offer to help if appropriate.
Your encouragement and understanding may just be what they need to get through a tough and embarrassing situation.
Have you been judged by your children’s behavior, good or bad? Do you try to encourage other parents in these situations?