Article

Support, not Judgement, for Parents

Posted 2010-07-30

In the midst of a familiar scene at the grocery store, how can we offer support instead of judgement to families?

It’s your big shopping day and you’ve driven down the hill to find some bargains. As you’re trying to decide between one or two bulk bottles of laundry detergent your concentration is interrupted by the piercing scream of a young child over by the fabric softener. After deciding no one is injured you politely return to your detergent calculations. But before you know it the little girl has thrown her body to the floor, violently kicking everything within her reach, including the bottles of fabric softener which are now all over the floor. Immediately you feel sympathy for the father trying frantically to pick up the bottles, contain his daughter, and get out of the store. You remember a day not so long ago that this was you, desperately wishing your child would just get in the cart. Later as you stand in line to check out you hear people talking about this father and child. “Don’t parents know how to discipline anymore?” “Why did he bring her to the grocery store if she behaves like that?” “Where is that girl’s mother?”

It’s so easy isn’t it, to judge other people’s children, other people’s parenting styles, and other people’s families? We all have so many opinions about the right and wrong way to parent, the right and wrong way children should behave. By the time parents and their children come into my office they are terrified that I’m going to join in the blame game. Frequently the fear of being judged by yet another person keeps families from seeking out counseling until a simple, straightforward problem is compounded by time, resulting in a complex, multifaceted issue.

So this month instead of hiding in judgment, may we each find the bravery to reach out and offer support to those around us, even if it’s mopping up fabric softener.

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