In today’s day and age, with social media so common, and a viral post just a click away, it is easy to be caught up in what a parent “should” be doing, how a parent “should” be behaving.
Of course, things happen that effect our behaviour. And, it’s hard to understand someone’s behaviour without first understanding the factors that might be contributing to this behaviour.
Especially so at this time of year – money is tight, Christmas is coming, school is finishing. There is a lot of stress about.
Before you judge that parent in the supermarket, or at the park, perhaps first consider what might be happening in their peripheral.
Please don’t judge that mother sitting at the park with her face glued to her cellphone. This is literally the only time her kids haven’t been touching and/or nagging her all day, and she desperately has emails to send for her part time job, and money to transfer for bills due that day. Or, perhaps by taking her kids to the playground, this allows her to finally lose herself in some “me time”, after having been up since 6am on two hours sleep.
Please don’t judge the mother grappling with a clearly overtired toddler in the supermarket. Yes, the child is tired. Yes, the mother might have found a better time to shop. But the reality is, this is the only chance she has to buy the essentials for dinner that day, and breakfast the following day, because she is a single mother and doesn’t have anyone to watch her kids at night so she can grocery shop. Nor does she want to, for that matter. Because she actually appreciates sitting down with a cup of tea when the kids are in bed.
Please don’t judge the parent who feeds her child sugar-laden treat snack in her lunchbox for school. This morning, this mother had five school lunches to make and it is a day shy of pay day. This mother rustled through her entire pantry trying to find enough food to bulk out five lunch boxes. She knows that the food she put in there falls short of being nutritious but reasoned that, in this rare circumstance, any food was better than no food.
Please don’t judge the mother in the cafe with her son, who is wearing his pyjamas despite it being 11am. She has been at the afterhours doctors with him since 7am and is only in that cafe because they xray clinic doesn’t open for another hour.
Please don’t judge the parent who is about to explode at her kids, who really are just being cute. Because, to her, they aren’t “being cute”, it’s been going on for hours and quite frankly, she has had enough. Even cute wears thin eventually.
The thing is, we don’t know that the woman in the dairy is on the brink of tears, because her husband of seven years has just told her he is leaving. We don’t know that the lady sitting alone in the park has just found out her father has passed away. We don’t know that the “helicopter” parent who won’t let her kids do school swimming, lost her younger brother in a drowning accident when they were kids.
We also don’t know that maybe, she’s just having a really bad day.
Women are notoriously good at hiding their feelings. Please don’t judge us for that.
Next time you feel that judgement coming on, consider the subject. Smile at her. Pat her reassuringly on the shoulder and tell her she’s doing ok. Ask her if she is doing ok.
You don’t know, but you probably will make her day.