To judge or not to judge
I am writing this having been prompted by two quite separate incidents that gave me pause for thought. The first was reading that a mum in Edinburgh ‘left’ her toddler son on a bus. The story is reported here and to be fair it appears to be a reasonable re-telling of the situation.
Now I took a look at the tag line because, to be honest who wouldn’t? But was I wanting to look and secretly judge this ‘terrible’ parenting? Or was I hoping to feel just slightly smug at others misfortune and believing it would never happen to me? Maybe, I was just being nosy during my hour break while my son has his nap? To be honest, I’m not sure which it was, but as I was reading the story, I just felt tremendous sympathy for the poor mum involved. As ever, there is always more to the story than merely a strap line and in this case the mum who left her toddler on the bus also had two other children with her. If she was feeling hassled or stressed it could have been the easiest thing in the world to do.
Perhaps it’s because I happen to know the bus route in Edinburgh and the area really well and so my sympathy is greater, I don’t know. But I think it’s so easy to pass judgement on others without first thinking about their situations. I know I’ve done very silly things like leaving our front door wide open, leaving keys in the front door etc and all when I’ve been hassled for one reason or another. I’m glad the little boy was returned to his mum safely according to the report and I wish the mum a few stress free days.
The reason I write this post is because I am regularly amazed by the frequency with which many people feel confident about freely offering advice and opinion whenever and wherever, regardless of whether it was wanted or requested.
I found myself in a tricky situation earlier on today when I met a mum that I know but usually just to say hello to outside school. I could see she was stressed and went over to say hi. It turned out she was waiting to go into school for a meeting. I could sense she was anxious and I wanted to help, but how much help do you offer and how? I listened and advised her to try to stay calm, but I felt for her as I could sense the pent up emotion just below the surface.
I don’t know much about the situation, but I do know that it’s very disempowering if you feel that your voice isn’t being heard. This must be how many people feel, especially if they feel they are somehow being judged by others.
I hope I don’t do that, or if I do that I have the courage to admit it and apologise for it. I also hope my children grow up with empathy for others-it’s what makes us what we are.