07 September 2008

Judging Others

My husband and I were at a restaurant the other day and a young couple with a fussy toddler happened to sit down next to us. It didn't bother me at all, I have so been there. But I took a moment to watch other people's (including mothers') reactions and realized not everyody is so understanding. It shocks me, I mean all mothers - I don't care how well-adjusted your children are - have had to deal with the "public display of misbahavior" at some point or another. This poor young couple was getting stared at from all directions. I overheard a mother nearby explain to her son that "sometimes children just don't know how to behave in public". I felt awful for them, especially the mother, who just stared at her child, and looked as if she were paralyzed with fear. I leaned over and gently said, "Don't worry about it. We've all been there, whether or not we choose to admit it." And offered her son a piece of bread from our bread basket. She teared up and said "Thank you. He's had a rough day and we're eating later than usual. I appreciate your understanding." I thought, why wouldn't I give that to another mother?

A few weeks ago after church I got ready to pull out of my parking space just as a woman right next to me was getting in her car. She pulled a face at me, even my daughter noticed it, and asked me "Why did that woman look at you so rudely?" I told her I really didn't know. I hadn't noticed her getting in her car, but I patiently waited for her to do so before backing out. This week she spoke in church... she signed and she talked simultaneously because she has a daughter who is deaf. That I did not know. And I noticed immediately how animated she was with her face. However, even when she was speaking positively her expression seemed sour. Her husband is currently fighting in Iraq. She has 3 children under the age of 5. It's hard, she said to the congregation. Really, really hard.

I can only imagine.

I've had many opportunities to learn this lesson over the past few months... both from the judger's side and the side of being wrongfully judged.

Assume nothing, that is my new mantra.

28 comments:

Jen said...

This is a great post. I had to fly when I was 7 months pregnant with my very tired, very terrified of flying 3 yo. I cannot tell you how many horrible looks & comments we got. A woman who said to me, "Don't worry mom, we've all been there" is the ONLY thing that got me through that flight. Good for you for being that voice of comfort to another mother.

Anne said...

nice post. i believe in not making assumptions and not taking things personally. have you read "the four agreements"?

Lara said...

It's a good mantra, too.

I try so hard not to make judgments that are unimportant. I realize I do have to make some judgments though. But the ones you are talking about, I try very hard not to assume. I find I have to catch myself sometimes though, so it's always good to have a reminder.

And I so second the reading of The four agreements. Life changing book.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Terrific reminder. My husband and I had a sort of similar situation with a family of three small children sitting next to us. We said the same sort of thing and then later laughed about it saying we were sure glad it wasn't us for a change!

Sister Hinckley said something once to the effect of "Be kind to all you meet for we are all fighting a hard fight."

Yvonne said...

What a fabulous reminder. Thank you, lei.

Amy said...

great post!! we've all been there with the kids out to eat, and if you haven't well I think you are in denial LOL. And it's amazing what you learn about people isn't it?

the lazy reader said...

What a wonderful post. Its so easy to be judgemental and dismissive. But we should be looking at each other with kindness and compassion as our Savior has taught us. Thank you for the reminder. Of course,as a mother of small children, usually I am thinking, "thank goodness I am not the only one"

Lee said...

Lei, this is great. And so very true. You never know the day someone has had, or how things are going and you can't judge. And it hurts to be judged unfairly. Thanks for a wonderful post.

Ginny said...

This is very true, great post!

My mom is disabled, but she looks young for her age. If anyone knew the shear pain she deals with daily, they would be surprised she even gets out of bed.

She has a handicapped sticker & has been confronted on it so many times over the years. By women, men, cops, etc. She comes home devastated by it because she wishes she could walk like a normal person.

With seeing this going on since high school, I've always tried to be understanding with other people.

Michal said...

i have so much more empathy in such public situations than i used to. not only did i get to learn what it is like as a mother, but as a mother of a child on the autistic spectrum, i often have to deal with meltdowns that are not age appropriate and can be really flustering and embarrassing. it always lifts my spirits when someone pats me on the back or whispers that it's okay, or that i'm doing a good job. it feels like everyone is staring at my child like he's a monster and at me like i don't know how to control him. i want a sign that says, "my child has special needs. back off." but in reality, even if he didn't, it wouldn't be appropriate for them to be clucking their tongues in criticism. we all need a little more support and care when we're dealing with a public meltdown.

Jen said...

I cannot be reminded of this concept too many times.

I do not know the whole story.

I just don't. Even though I really think I do, I don't. It helps me to give others the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes I find out the reason things happen, but sometimes I don't. Either way it is important not to judge. We don't know the whole story.

tjhirst said...

That comes close to home when we are in both positions. It actually stings so bad when the assumptions they are making are about you. Maybe that pain is to remind us in the moment when we want to think or say something when we don't have all the facts.

Morning Glory said...

You nailed it, Lei. I remember so many times in the past when I was one of those people who wasn't very nice about the crying child in public. It reminded me so much of some of my sour relatives and I didn't want to be like them. It's so much easier to offer a smile or a kind word, and I'm glad that was a lesson I learned.

KAT said...

A great reminder, TFS

utmommy said...

I agree, great post!

I always try hard not to judge because you never know what is going on in another's persons life.

sweetpea said...

This is one of those "natural man" instincts that is a part of each one of us--to judge someone else. For me, it has also been something that I have been very careful about--I too have been on each side. This was a great reminder lei--TFS.

An Ordinary Mom said...

This is a mantra we all should adopt.

Bilary said...

Just wanted to stop by and tell you that I miss you! I know I don't know you well, but I'd love to come and visit you on your blog. Is that okay?

You're darling and I loved this post. So sweet. I feel for that poor mom in the restaurant as well. So hard sometimes when you have kids. And the woman in your ward - she just deserves a big hug. I can't even imagine.

Liam's Mom - Gina said...

Well done, Lei! Thanks for this post! We all need this reminder!

Shellie said...

Thank you for being nice to that mom at the restaurant, we need more of you supporting us moms having a rough time! And thanks for understanding the one that maybe judged you wrong as well. Great post!

Dee Light said...

What a wonderful post. I love that you took the time to offer a word of encouragement to the mom in the resteraunt.

Jenny in Utah said...

Thanks for writing this - people are too quick to judge and that is a sad thing. I was at a restaurant with my sister and my three young children (at the time) and a couple was being seated in the booth next to us. The lady took one look at us and asked to be seated in a different location. It was so crazy because my kids were seated and being calm at the time. I don't understand, but that is where the judging needs to not take place on my part, maybe she had a good reason, I don't know. However, a little more discretion on her part would have been greatly appreciated by me! :)

Katie said...

This is a beautiful post you made! I agree that people are often so quick to judge and forget what a small act of kindness can do to someone. I hope you don't mind me posting, some friends from the ward told me about your wonderful blog. I'm Katie...I was the one who complimented you on your little girls adorable dress as I was running out of primary.

Lei said...

Absolutely Katie - I love visitors and thank you for leaving me a comment!

:)

Tigersue said...

I keep trying to remember to relax and look at the otherside many times. I think over the years I have become less judgemental, and in someways even more so.

I think the lack of tolerance in our society for children is directly related to the decline in the birthrate over the years. More and more society looks at children as a burden or a punishment rather than a blessing.

People don't realize that little children have underdevelopoed nervous systems and can't take as much as an adult might.

When I get annoyed I try to tell myself it is my problem not theirs so I better get over it. :)

Tabitha Blue said...

Thanks for this great post. It made my eyes water... you brought it home! Great blog too! I love the style.

Melzie said...

I gave a talk about that in church, basically, on "assume nothing."

It's so easy to judge, so hard not too- and then when you get the chance to remember, or to realize...

"ah ha" and "oh no" come into existance.

Wonderful about you sharing the bread... I always feel for those younger moms, or even the ones with many, and have full hands.

Boy Mom said...

Great post! If we could only love others as ourselves.

I took some sign language classes a few years ago I had a hard time being as facially expressive as the language demands. One thing I learned may help you understand the look from the ASL Mom. When an ASL person asks a question, what, why, how, when, where, they wrinkle their brow and frown as opposed to English where we open our eyes wide lift our brow and almost smile when asking a question. She may have been making eye contact and asking with her facial expression if you noticed her getting in the car.