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A chat with Ava & Shara: Do you judge other parents? Are you feeling judged by others?

Mommy Perks logoEach Monday, Ava and I blog over on the Kabongo site: Mondays with Ava & Shara. Ava requested that we chat here this week about a topic near/dear to her heart: parental judgement and self judgement. I will share my own thoughts below, after Ava’s statements.

Ava shares:

A while back, Nathalie Brown from EasyPeasyKids wrote a great post on judging each other as parents.

I was inspired to continue the conversation after recently reading her post. Thanks Nathalie. And just so the readers know – you are getting a triple dose of Emotional Intelligence, as all three of us love that topic! (Myself, Shara and Nathalie)

Judging others or oneself too harshly and constantly is not a very good hobby nor is it a productive one. Yet so many millions of us partake in it regularly. If you are reading this and stuck in that judgment cycle and would like to start to get out, here’s how.

First Step: Insight and Awareness

It’s really important to figure out what is hiding underneath the judgment cycle from your childhood. Were your parents very harsh and critical?  Or where they loving yet strict with very high standards? Or did they constantly put down folks who were different? It’s important to figure out where judgment comes from, because you are now treating yourself or others how you were treated. Since children learn more by watching their grown-ups, it’s important to ask yourself, “What did I learn? And what am I showing my kids?”

Second Step: Feelings Underneath

Figuring out what feelings are being covered up under judgment is really important. Disappointment, loss, low self esteem or feeling inadequate may be underlying factors here. Acknowledge the feelings, mourn for a few minutes and then give yourself permission to move on. Combat them with new feelings and thoughts.

Practice:

  • You may currently say things like: “That person makes me feel ugly.”
  • Instead say: “No one can make me feel anything. That’s an old feeling from childhood. I am great, beautiful inside and out. I love how confident she is maybe I can learn from her and do it myself.”

Third Step: Making a Decision it’s Time to Stop

It may take months from the decision to stop till it stops but you can do it. As they say – practice makes perfect. Journal daily – it really helps. Example: “Today I  figured out why I judged x or what I was feeling when I judged her!” Or “Today I didn’t judge anyone and it felt great to be free from it!”

Fourth Step: New Hobby of “Appreciation, Gratitude and Empathy”

For every judgmental thought you have daily, add the opposite appreciative positive thought. “That mom is clueless. She is so mean!” Change to “She must be having such a hard day or she doesn’t feel well to be so mean. Maybe I can say something nice or help to ease the burden a bit. It’s hard being a parent every minute.”

Try thought exchanging even for a half a day. It gets easier.

Step Five:  Taking in others’ advice and opinions

It’s hard to hear other opinions without being defensive or argumentative because it hurts. And we all respond in different ways when our feelings are hurt. But we can always learn something  from what others say and also learn when to toss it in the bin. Fifteen years ago I used to feel jealous when I heard that someone wrote a book or song. After working on the issue for a while I realized it was because I wanted to write and have been writing ever since. I took classes and groups and learned to get better and better at it.

I find a great response to constant advice is, “Thanks for your advice, I will think about it. I appreciate the time you took to tell me. I will also check with an experienced child therapist and see what is written in the research on the topic.” That’s a sure way to stop any intrusive comments.

After 20 years of practice I do see that it’s hard for parents to sort out all different types of advice as most don’t have a degree in parenting. Parenting is the only career (and the most important) one where a degree or professional development is not required.

So if you feel judged, take it as a sign to create a parenting degree for yourself. We all want the same things – to do our best by our kids and protect their emotional future. My advice (not judgment):

Regardless of the issues, take classes weekly or monthly with a child psychotherapist. Create your own degree and protect your child’s future.

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Shara shares:

Boy, Ava covered a lot of wonderful ground above. When Ava asked me to co-write this post with her my first thought was, “Judging? Who has time for that crap? I have four kids, we run 3 businesses from home, we volunteer in town, we teach Sunday School, we mentor teens and I don’t have time to even care if someone is judging me. Nor do I have time to judge others. This is a non issue for me.”

That’s not entirely true, though. Like Ava mentioned above, old habits die hard and I do sometimes find myself feeling judged by others (namely by those who tell me that having four kids is bad for the economy or taxes, etc) or judging others for their parenting (or lack of) practices.

It’s not easy mentoring teens and NOT having judgmental thoughts creep in. “If only these parents would…” “Boy these kids would be better off if their parents didn’t…”

I have to stop myself short and redirect my thinking patterns. “Shara – her parents were both abused as kids. In fact, they are doing better by their kids than their parents did by them. They are trying! Even if it doesn’t seem up to YOUR standards.”

And when I feel judged by others I have to say to myself, “Seriously – who cares if they don’t understand having so many kids? Before they came along, YOU didn’t even think you wanted this many! Haha. Now you love and appreciate your children and you take good care of them. They are happy and healthy. Maybe the naysayer doesn’t think she/he could handle four kids. Maybe they didn’t have a nice childhood and therefore, don’t understand why anyone would want kids at all. Who the heck knows. Let it go. You’re happy and you love your life. That’s that.”

I’m also learning to come back at others, who make disparaging remarks, with something witty and funny. I think this is a good rule of thumb for anyone in any ‘judgy’ situation! Make a funny come-back about it, laugh and move on. “Why do I have four kids? Don’t I care about taxes and how much lots of kids can cost tax payers? Hmm. I haven’t thought about it, really. Freedom of choice gives me the freedom to choose how many kids I want and I guess I got so excited about that, I lost my head. What can I do about it? What? Help me! What have I done here???????? Will you adopt one of them? Maybe you can call Angelina and Brad! They might help me get out of this mess!!!!!!!”

Or something similar :-)

On another note, I agree with Ava that seeking professional help can most certainly be beneficial. I often email Wendy and Ava, in fact, asking for advice about parenting. I’ve encouraged both of them to start offering email/phone services. They are so helpful and knowledgeable, both having more than 20 years of counseling experience.

Here’s hoping they start offering email/phone help very soon so more of us can tap into their brains right from the comfort of home.

And now I’m off to feed my son some lunch. He’ll likely tell me he wants candy with it and I’m probably too tired to fight with him right now.

{Don’t judge me.}

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AVA’s BIO

Ava Parnass, a.k.a. “The Kid Whisperer,” is an author, songwriter and child therapist who specializes in marrying entertainment and social-emotional literacy for kids. Ms Parnass helps kids figure out how they feel through playing, talking, listening, reading, singing and dancing. Read more…

SHARA’S BIO

Shara has a background in education, early childhood, preschool work, marketing, freelance and special needs. Shara was a nanny for 16+ years working with children birth-13. She has four children of her own. She is currently an active member of her town charity group, a Library Board member and a member of her small town business community (helping with fund-raising events and children’s activities). Read more…

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4 Responses to “A chat with Ava & Shara: Do you judge other parents? Are you feeling judged by others?”

  1. Ava says:

    Ha ha shara i will take some candy with lunch too!
    What a great conversation, love what you had to say.
    Angelina is the one that needs help not you(lol)
    Thanks maybe wendy & I will start that service:)

  2. Shara says:

    You don’t eat candy! :-) But thanks for being nice about it. And I imagine you are right about Angelina. Although I read that they already have SEVEN nannies. Wowsa……..

  3. Ava says:

    I see how u love your family,always put them first, & ask 4 experts help when needed. u r an amazing ,great role model. I give you so much credit!!
    In my mind i am eating candy!! Really just Dairy free choc:)
    Found gluten free dairy free pizza place here on vacation, will let u know if any good(lol

  4. Shara says:

    Thanks, Ava. That’s very kind. Wow – gluten free diary free pizza. Yes. I would love to know how THAT tastes. LOL. Please let me know.

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