I’m often told that I need to stop judging other parents. That my opinions are offensive and I’m being judgemental. “To each their own” they say and they berate me for “not seeing another way“. There are so many flaws at the root of this concept. I hope you’ll hear me out.
Judgement Is Inevitable & Important
Firstly, judgement isn’t all bad. Judgement is a human thing, we all judge. Whether people want to admit it to themselves or not. We all have to judge in order to make decisions. It’s a profoundly important cognitive function, really. Thank goodness we as humans can use this judgement and form values and ideals based on what is meaningful and significant to us.
Parenting certainly is meaningful and significant to me. World changing is a phrase I’d use. Like I’ve shared recently, you’re right to question the mainstream parenting paradigm.
We need to judge. Without judgement there’s no passion. Without judgement there’s no advocacy and awareness of social issues. Without judgement there’s no change.
We are taught in our society that learning right from wrong is so important. Yet when we practice this as adults and determine what is right or wrong, we are judgemental?
I think a lot of people thinking judging is inherently disrespectful. We are taught that it’s rude to judge. But it doesn’t have to be disrespectful. I can respect someone’s limitations and empathise with their position while judging their choices because they don’t align with my values.
Judge concepts, not people. I think it’s important to judge parenting, not parents. Most parents, we would all agree, are trying their best with what they know. That’s what’s significant about judging the parenting – without judging these choices and helping decipher what’s right and wrong when it comes to children, we all lose.
I guess what it comes down to for me as a parent is that I believe all parents should value children’s rights. All parents, in my opinion, should value the respect and autonomy of children.
Herein lies where I rub people up the wrong way. Because I value children’s rights over the ego of the parent who is trying to remove said rights. Therefore, simply through advocating for children, my opinion is a judgement of many parents who make choices that remove children’s rights to autonomy and respect.
On Silencing Different Opinions
On Values & Intentional Living
If your values have worth and you live authentically and intentionally by your ideals; then being judged by them won’t hurt or upset you. Because you know your truth and it is something you’re confident in and comfortable with. When your values and ideals align with your actions, you don’t feel judged by people questioning them.
When you live by what you believe to be meaningful and right, no one can take that assurance away from you.
I know this to be so true for me. I remember when my choices didn’t reflect my ideals and values deep down. I remember the low running hum of discomfort deep down. I know it for past decisions I’ve made and when someone brings up truths surrounding them, I feel that pang. But since I started following my heart a few years ago, and pushed through the cognitive dissonance and discomfort; I no longer relate to feeling uncomfortable when others judge my choices.
If I’m judged for say trusting children or not using school, I see the conditioned limitations of the judger, not the judgement. I may defend things as a concept or help educate about where I’m coming from but I’m not defensive. I know our reality and that these things are what children deserve.
‘To Each Their Own’
The thing is, it’s not about judging people for making mistakes, we all make mistakes. It’s about when people straight up don’t believe how they are disrespecting children is a mistake.
‘To each their own’ is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. Yes, all families are different. Yes, all children are different. Yes, we all lead different lives. Yes, we all value different things.
But all children deserve respect, regardless. Full stop. Respect shouldn’t be conditional. Children’s freedom shouldn’t be conditional. Children’s unconditional love shouldn’t be conditional (and punitive parenting IS conditional love).
‘To each their own’ should be left to matters of personal preference, not whether a child is respected and loved unconditionally.
Circumstances do not change the ideal. While yes there are very rare circumstances where a parent may not be able to fully respect their child, it does not alter the ideal. It does not change that the child deserved respect or autonomy.
On Not Seeing It Another Way
I wasn’t raised this way. I definitely empathise with how difficult it is to break the cycle and how hard it can be to parent how we want to. Wholeheartedly. I’ve had readers tell me “You don’t even entertain a different opinion!” (on unschooling and parenting without punishment).
I do think that judging other parenting choices (particularly on a public forum like my blog here) needs to be done out of a place of empathy, kindness and empowerment. I hope that comes across in what I do because that is my intention.
I think it’s important to note that empathy and empowerment are only helpful if they’re helping us improve in my opinion. It’s not empowering if we are placating fears and egos. It’s not empowering to dwell in how we all mutually aren’t improving.
I think I’ll always be told what I say is judgemental by those who are parenting with control, punishment and disrespect. They want to protect that concept because they don’t want to deal with the guilt of admitting differently.
Oftentimes simply stating what children deserve is seen as judgmental and confronting to those who are invested in that paradigm. It’s a delicate between advocating for the rights of children vs empathising with the parents who may not be respecting children, if that makes sense.
It’s hard to live loud with opposing beliefs surrounding parenting and schooling because even just making different choices then challenges the reality of others.