Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Parents judging parents is hurtful, not helpful

This one is a hard one for me to write and I've tried to keep emotions out of it.

I once saw a comment thread on a friend's Facebook post about spanking in which one parent said spanking was child abuse and another said if you don't spank it's child abuse.

I've also read long, heated arguments about breastfeeding vs. not.

And I personally had a friend's husband say, "That boy needs something on his hiney!" about my 3-year-old who was acting out and "Is that all he's going to eat?" and "My son knows what 'no' means," and tell him, "You need to get over that, boy. You're THREE YEARS OLD" about his deep-seeded fear of vacuum cleaners. I had another friend's husband (who I had just met) tell his son in front of Brady, "You will be rewarded for what you've had to deal with," in response to my then-5-year-old's sharing issues and grab Brady so hard when he kicked a stuffed dinosaur toy in the guy's "man cave" that it hurt Brady.

In those cases, we'd been invited to stay at their home and then were judged while there. I wish they had told me that if Brady acted up, we'd be treated that way because I know many other people who take us as we are and are patient, understanding and caring. No, things were not perfect but I didn't know they were expected to be. If I would have known, I wouldn't have gone and we'd probably all be happier.

If it's a stranger in the store, I put up a wall and just do what's needed to teach Brady and get us through. But these were friends and my defenses were down. I felt safe going in, but felt betrayed and relieved when I left. I'm sure they were relieved too if this that's how they saw us.

And honestly, their comments did not change me as a parent or person (other than to make me even more determined not to judge), but it certainly did change the friendship, for both of us I imagine.

I would never suggest to a parent that they spank or not spank, EVER. It's a personal choice and none of my business. And I think it's no coincidence that I had two completely unrelated friends, who live in different states, say on the very same morning on Facebook that if they heard one more person tell them spanking was the answer to their ADHD child, they would scream.

Oh, and that vacuum fear? Brady got over it within the next year all on his own without me forcing him. And his limited diet? He had a severe egg allergy no one knew about. Guess it was a good idea I didn't make him eat stuff that would have induced vomiting.

Ugh. I find it hard in my heart to be graceful when I consider parent judgment and I need to work on that. But I do think it's wrong, very wrong. It's hurtful and it is assuming that YOUR way is the right way, the only way, that if everyone would do as you do their kid would be just fine. If your child is doing great, well then wonderful! But other kids are not carbon copies of your child just with different parenting.

If you truly feel a child is in harm, by all means take the necessary steps. If not, then don't assume you know anything about what is right for that child, that parent and that family, or what they go through. You don't know what they struggle with. You don't know what they've tried or haven't tried. You don't know their own family history. You don't know what health issues may be a factor. Unless you are living their life, you don't know even if you think you do. You can't know. And to assume you do is, in my opinion, very unfortunate for everyone.

If you expect another person's child to behave just like yours or if you feel you or your family will be negatively affected by a child who behaves differently (though I still don't see why my kid's vacuum fear or eating habits affects anybody else) then perhaps just don't offer. Or at the very least, please let them know ahead of time your expectations and what will happen if they're not met. Putting them, their child or their parenting down will hurt far more than it will ever help. Those incidents above are burned into my mind and they are painful memories.

Thank goodness Brady was young enough he won't remember.

I'll end this with a link to a wonderful post at the A Mom's View of ADHD blog, about someone who has been there and been judged time and time again. Here's a quote:

"And as your brain scrambles to figure out how you’ll get your own version of The Bucking Bronco to the car or at least out of the middle of the crowd, cue the self-righteous star parents who obviously raised only the best and brightest of the world’s population.
They’re everywhere and they all know one thing for sure: You’re the problem.
Scare him. Spank him. Stop giving into him. Stop spoiling him. Be consistent. Be firm. For Heaven’s sake, don’t comfort him. You’re doing it wrong. You’re a horrible parent. What a shame."


  1. I love this

    my site :: Jane

  2. My daughter has recently been diagnosed with Severe ADHD combined. I just started a blog and wrote about this very same judgement. As I was judged by a complete stranger

    I am a new follower of yours and I have to say it is refreshing to hear that I am not alone with the challenges I face.

    Thanks for posting!!

    1. Hi there, Mary! Thanks for your comment. It's nice to meet you. I read your post and goodness, I can relate to a lot of what you are going through. And especially celebrating a "good day". I don't think I've ever spoken to a parent with an ADHD-diagnosed child who hadn't been judged at some point or another.


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