It was years ago, but I’ll never forget that meeting. Tensions were rising in our homeschool cooperative between moms of littles and moms with older kids. Moms in different seasons of life were just not understanding each other. It came to a head with a complaint that some moms weren’t getting forms in on time and were using the “excuse” that with many young children, they couldn’t find a block of time to get it done. Some of the “big-kid moms” were irate at this: “We’re all busy. I’m driving kids all over the place!”
You could cut the judgement with a knife. Moms of littles were always working, always busy, and always tired. Some of these ladies had been caring for babies and toddlers for years with only a year or two between children, while homeschooling older kids. They needed help and understanding, but instead were judged.
We must have judgement to discern sin for ourselves and even for our brothers and sisters in Christ. But so often, judgment becomes judging. We all do it at least a little and we all need to work on it.
There is always tension between the possibilities we aspire to and our wounded memories and past mistakes. -Cardinal Sean Brady
One of the keys in teaching children empathy is asking them to remember their own relatable experiences. Jenny’s tower fell down. Do you remember a time something you made was ruined? How did that make you feel?
If the “big kid moms” took a little time to remember the reality of the early years, as it was, not as they wanted it to be, they may have responded very differently.
True Wisdom is knowing what you don’t know. - Confucius
If you’ve never personally experienced another person’s situation, how can you judge what you would do and what the outcome would be? Are you less understanding with others who face challenges you’ve never endured? If you have three children, do you judge a mom who doesn’t have time to read to the toddler every day although she has twelve children? If you have a big family, do you accuse the only child next door of being “spoiled”? Do you think the family with a 3 year old with ADHD should “control” her more in Mass, even though you’ve never had a special needs child?
Even if many things in your life are similar, it isn’t the same. You may have experience raising little boys, but you don’t have experience raising your friend’s little boy. That’s not to say you can never offer advice, but is that advice about helping, or judging? Moreover, if you are talking about people instead of to them, that’s a red flag that you crossed over to Gossipville. Get out of there ASAP!
If you judge people, you have no time to love them. - Mother Teresa
Love is the best litmus test. If you think about the other with love, you put them first. You think about what they need. You don’t have time to judge them! Love asks, “How can I help you?” instead of “How could you do that?” Love doesn’t care what you wear or if your house is always clean. Love isn’t jealous that you have more free time, or money or a child who just won the National Spelling Bee. Love is ready to offer help and guidance if your soul or body is in danger. Love will try to help you be holier and happier.
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In the end, some moms who had both older and younger children piped up and gave everyone a reality check. We ARE all busy, indeed, but in different ways and with different challenges along the way. A new, easier form was created and volunteers brought them from mom to mom during our co-op day and held babies and supervised toddlers so the forms got filled out.
All of the women at the meeting were intentional, loving people striving for holiness, who fell into the trap of judginess that day. We all do this. We all need to remember, be real about the situation, and look at our neighbor with love first.
Have you caught yourself judging other parents? Have you ever felt the daggers of judgement pointed at you?
Copyright 2016 Kate Daneluk