This short statement I posted on Facebook sparked a lot of discussion and private messages from fellow moms about times we’ve been judged. So I thought it worth re-posting here for my non-Facebook friends and family.

“Parenting is hard enough without parents judging one another. Why would you negatively label a child or a parent who are clearly struggling? Is it possible that you’ve never had to face the same challenges, or been in their shoes? Why then look down your nose at someone else’s kid or someone else’s parenting? Just because your kid is easier? Not all kids are born exactly the same. So if you find yourself patting yourself on the back because your kids were born with fewer challenges, remember, pride comes before a fall. Don’t get boastful, get thankful your child’s needs aren’t as intense. Don’t pass judgement, provide support. Parents who are already struggling to keep their head above water to meet their kids needs already feel like failures. Your judgement is more weight they can’t bear, and it is not helpful. Couldn’t you agree that, as parents, most of us are all just doing the best we can with the cards we’ve been dealt?”

After posting this, SO many fellow parents shared with me their bad experiences being judged. Their hurt and pain was evident, and the raw emotion they expressed proves that this is a huge problem plaguing parents everywhere. While it made me sad to hear of others’ pain in also being judged, it also validated my own experiences and made me not feel as alone. For years I allowed people close to me to look down their nose and judge my child because I misplaced my trust in them to share my parenting struggles with them. It’s a terrible thing, then, to feel you have to prove to the world that your kid is NOT awful, especially to those close to you, that he or she has so many incredible qualities that even their kids do not have. We all know what it’s like to be disliked, and for a people pleasing child (which most are) to sense this rejection, despite trying so hard to make others happy, it really hurts and it really sets them up for failure. It becomes to them a self-fulfilling prophesy. If their teacher thinks they’re terrible, for example, then everything that teacher does will come from that negative place, and will therefore scream to the child that they’re not good enough, and hence they become the terrible kid their teacher imagined them to be. I have this visual of a child struggling to walk up a steep hill, bushwhacking all the negativity coming from those who are close to them, who should be building them up, and helping them on their journey.

So my challenge to other parents and non-parents alike is this: build each other up. Compliment every parent you see, especially those who seem to be struggling.

Tell parents:

1) Some positive things about themselves. Tell them, “You’re doing a great job!” If you don’t think they are, then look within your own heart, and search harder. Acknowledge you don’t have the whole picture, and you’ve not been in their shoes. (If you had, your compassion would naturally and easily flow, not your judgement. So allow the times you feel judgmental be a barometer to you of your lack of understanding, not their lack of good parenting.) Because chances are, they are REALLY working hard, and really doing their best.

But MOST importantly, tell a parent

2) Some positive things about their child. Praise the good things about the child. (Again if you can’t think of any, look within your own heart and identify why you can’t find the good – because it’s definitely there, your inability to see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.) Let that parent know their child is valued, and why. We all need to know the world sees good in our child, that the world loves our child, appreciates their good qualities, and values them as people. We need to know it, and our kids need to know it too – they desperately want to be loved and accepted for who they are, and helped in love and support along the way.

So that’s my challenge – see how many parents you can compliment today, how many you can assure that they’re doing a good job, and how many kids and parents alike you can praise and BUILD UP today!!! And hopefully it will return to you in kind.