Can we still judge as parents of a difficult child?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Steely, May 6, 2008.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Have any of you noticed that we, as parent's of difficult children, can still be judgmental? Even on this board? That shocks me - but yet I am probably one of them.

    As parent's of difficult children it seems to me that we should have become the least judgmental of the bunch. How many times have we had the neighbors, cops, friends, relatives chew us a new one about what horrible kids we have - or what horrible parents we are? How many times have we cried ourselves to sleep, wishing they only knew? Wishing they only knew what good kids they can be - or how hard we as parents tried? Wishing the world would just try to walk a mile in our shoes.

    In our efforts to help one another - I hope we remember what we would have wanted, or still need, as parents of difficult children. Empathy, understanding, and a minute to walk a mile in each of our shoes.
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Good Point.

    And I do try very hard to not be judgemental. Sometimes, though, I still have to catch myself.
  3. Hopeless

    Hopeless ....Hopeful Now

    Nicely put. I know I hated being judged by my family, my co-workers, the schools, the courts, etc. I only had one co-worker who had a difficult child of their own that understood what I was going through and she was a great person to have. She never judged my decisions or actions, but was always there for me to vent, cry or talk through options.

    I try and remember this when I see or hear other parents with difficult children and having trouble.
  4. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE


    What's wrong with being judgmental? Why wouldn't we? Oh, I understand what you are saying in theory, Steely, but on the other hand what's wrong with having standards...with having a line that won't be crossed?

    I don't see being judgmental as necessarily critical...or bad. Perhaps it's just semantics?.......or maybe I'm just a bit sensitive to perceived criticism (judgment?) from your post?

  5. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I think you make a good point.
    One reason I come here is to avoid the judgments out THERE.
    Too many folks are clueless. That is spelled C L U E L E S S.
    Now, I realize that SOMETIMES this is PARTIALLY due to the fact that I don't go around ANNOUNCING that our daughter is a difficult child. Sometimes folks figure this out on their own. Sometimes they are unsure. Sometimes they blame mom and dad. When difficult child was younger, this happened more often.

    I have similar issues with reference to my health. Ironically, even if I tell people the truth...they are slow to understand/accept and quick to think I am making it up or lying and it irks me to no end. Ironically, it backfires on me sometimes that I push very hard, put my makeup on and do a lot of juggling.

    I think having had a special needs child and having had chronic illness has helped me to understand that you really never know the private battles that people are experiencing and unless they personally are mean spirited and purposefully damaging to you, it is best to withhold judgment (although being with-o any bias at all is nearly impossible). I would draw the line at abuse in any, way, shape or form...but that would fall into the "mean" catagory (big time).

    I think we can OBSERVE that something is happening and not be happy with what we see, but it is best to withhold our feelings (judgment in particular) about it. Perhaps we are only seeing the surface of something or the tail end of something...

    I don't think this really is the same thing as standards. We can have standards and beliefs.
    Ex: I might believe that it is the right thing to get to work on time. However, someone with a health problem might not have a top notch record. Perhaps this person will have a less than perfect record. If this is not satisfactory for all parties, other arrangements would have to be made. AND this person might want to compensate his/her employer in another way (working from home when able for example). I think it is best to understand that we are all unique invididuals and to it is best to "judge" a person first (and most importantly) by the content of his character (I think Martin Luther King said this...not sure), secondly by their actions and thirdly by their behavior when things go wrong and their attempts to make a correction.
  6. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Personally, I think we're all human. Judging others is part of human nature. We judge if we like someone and why. We judge if someone does something wrong and we weigh it against the things the other person has done that it "right." Should we judge, probably not, but we do.

    Yes, this is a "gentle place to land." However, that doesn't mean it is always an easy place. We're touchy folks. Most of us do call a spade a spade, a worm a worm, a slimeball a slimeball. Sometimes GASP we discover we're wrong and we're pretty quick to apologize. On the whole, I think this is a very tolerant group. I've also noticed we're pretty protective of each other. We do circle the wagons to protect one of our own. We also act as a pack to get rid of a bad seed.

    For me, I truly hurt for every member I respond to. I truly do cheer for the successes and baby steps (sometimes literally). If I tell someone "hugs" it really is my cyber arms around them. If I feel used, lied to, denigrated, I'm going to snarl at the very least. I get enough of those feelings from my daughter. I don't need and the people on this board don't need nor deserve those kind of feelings. If the person causing those feelings doesn't mean to give them, usually speaking up will bring us to our senses and we'll quickly apologize.

    As the saying goes, don't push the mama bear. I think for many of us, this board is our baby. It is where we go for laughter, friendship, hugs, easing of pain, advice. If we think you're crossing lines and causing pain, we will, as any mother will, protect our baby.
  7. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    All I can say is:bigsmile::bravo:

    I am sure I am guilty of this myself, but I do try to catch myself. I don't see it as having standards or not crossing the line, that to me has to do with boundaries. It is not my job to judge, it is others. I do not have to like or agree with everyone, but I do not need to be hurtful.
  8. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    MB, I could not have said it any better.
  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Steely, I understand your point and value your opinion. I'm sure I am not always as sensitive as I could be, but I really try to balance my honesty with temperance. Sometimes, it is very difficult.

    I have to agree with MB and Suz. It is and should be a soft place to land. But not soft forever. Because you posted on PE, I read this as talking about adult kids, not small children. Eventually we have to tell our adult kids that we can't decide for them, and they are making their own choices and suffering their own consequences. They can make better choices and have welcome consequences.

    When parents of adult difficult child's keep making the same mistakes over again, I think we have to point that out as well. Otherwise it feels like we're being taken advantage of. To paraphrase MB, I get enough "I ignored what you said and now I'm unhappy again and you have to listen to me" from the kids. This shouldn't be only a soft place to land, it should also be a comfortable place to stay.
  10. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I know we are all friends on this board. We come from all areas of the world. We are all of different personalities. It sometimes takes a long time to get to know someone especially via computer. We learned from a post on kids climbing in trees that there is a derogatory meaning for something many of us thought of just normal endearing way to address our kids. To some, replies may have been judgemental - that is because those people posting, (me included) did not understand one of the possibilities of those words. I had no idea that the phrase used had such a horrible background of meanings. I thank those who provided background so I could learn. My first reaction was - "How can she get in trouble for that?" Now I know. So, as I have learned, I hope those who knew will also learn that some people did not understand.

    So, we continue to be careful not to offend anyone, however, we also need to give each other the benefit of the doubt. They may come from a corner of the world that sees things differently and there is no intention to offend.

    Some people say it as they see it. These are all ideas/opinions meant to help. I know that my input will not always be the answer you need but maybe it will help someone else checking in? It is cool how different eyes see different issues/answers so you get a large picture of input to a question/concern/comment. Many times after I post, a post will appear that sends me in a new direction because I had not thought of that then I think my post is wrong.

    I am learning so much on this board and I hope I have not sounded judgemental - if so, forgive me - I would never judge you (even if I knew the entire story - as we only get to know a little bit). I do try to stay objectionable and not personal when giving input.

    I think sometimes as someone is "letting off steam" things can easily be taken out of context. When we are upset, we see things irrationally or as if we are trapped sometimes and just need to "vent". Once it is out of our system, we feel better. This is a safe place to "vent". We have to let each other say what they need to say. Remember, sometimes when we are "venting", we really do not mean everything we say but we still say it because that is how we feel at the moment. It's like throwing everything in the open, the good, the bad, the right, the wrong.

    We also have to remember that as our lives are stressed to the max, the weirdest things make us laugh. So, if there are any jokes shared that helped the writer release stress but may sound judgemental, remember the source - it is the stress talking, or the release of the the stress and we let that person enjoy that moment and are happy that he/she can laugh even at the weird things because laughter reduces stress.

    So, can we still judge as parents of a difficult child? I would hope that as members of any forum we choose to join, we will give everyone the benefit of the doubt and not judge. And unless there is strong evidence that the judgement is there, remember that the offense was probably not intentional and choose to forgive.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I try desperately to not be judgmental but that also doesnt mean I dont want standards. I know intellectually what society expects from a person. I also know that sometimes people cant meet that standard for a variety of reasons.

    An example. This past weekend we visited Jamie in his new townhouse. The first night we were there we got to see one of his neighbors in a huge difficult child fight with their son. The 16 yo boy decided to jump in stepmoms face and make a gesture like he was going to hit her. His father got on him for that and the boy got loud and nasty. Father and son ended up in a tussle with the father taking the boy to the ground. Jamie walked up to see if everyone was ok...because he is in law enforcement and wanted to make sure no one was hurt. When he saw what was going on, he simply said to them "I know what you are going through, hope everything is ok" and came home. The stepmom came over later to apologize for the whole event but Jamie told her...hey...I have a brother just like that so we KNOW how you feel.

    Other folks probably felt that daddy was mean and all that but I know from personal experience that you cant judge a single episode without knowing the whole history.

    By the way, I did offer my
  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    A P.S.

    A month or so ago I was in line at the Costco Pharmacy. It was seniors day, so the line was long, but that's to be expected.

    In front of me was a woman who was about 35 years old. I didn't really pay that much attention to her until she yelled out to her son, "If you don't sit still I'm not going to give you any food." I looked over to where she was talking to, and there sat a little boy on a folding chair waiting for her to finish. He was about 8 - 9 years old. In my best estimate he weighed about 250 pounds. His feet did not touch the floor and his body hung over both sides of the chair. His reaction to her comment was to shrink down in his chair. He seemed humiliated. I was and remain judgmental about that encounter.

    Why couldn't her son stand in line next to her and they could have some appropriate interaction? Children need to learn to stand patiently in line. Keeping a conversation about school or whatever going with them is a great way to do that.

    What kind of mother of a morbidly obese child rewards or punishes her child's behavior with promises of food?

    What kind of mother of a morbidly obese child calls the attention of 20 - 30 people to her morbidly obese child and his food rewards?

    I thought and still think she is terribly misguided, and feel horribly sorry for that boy. I don't pretend to know why he is so heavy, but promises of food rewards and calling attention to his size in public are just not right. It's judgmental I'm sure. I doubt that many would disagree with my take on it if they saw it for themselves. I don't know that having been judged about my kids' behavior in a store or in school negates our ability to judge other kids and parents. It's just how life is.
  13. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Good conversation guys.........and sorry Suz, I hope I did not sound judgmental. Not my intention.

    I believe there a shades of gray here, that should actually be called perhaps more black and white things.

    Witz the example you just gave to me is your righteous indignation about someone being mistreated. I am with you 100% - that is not right, horrible, and should be immediately addressed. To me, you are not judging, you are responding correctly to an incorrect situation.

    The same goes for us having standards. I am with you. When someone posts about how they purposely antagonize their 13 year old, I am the first one to sound the alarm. That is wrong!

    I also think that if someone is not listening to our advice on this board, than we simply should not respond anymore. Like our difficult children, any attention is better than none. Our constant replies to people who are not listening is just fuel for their fire.

    There is a difference between responding and trying to coach a person into making better decisions, and just constantly hitting them over the head with what they should do until they are bleeding. For some reason that person is not getting it. They may have a learning disorder, psychological issues, or not so bright - or they may love the attention they are getting from us posting the same thing over and over. None the less, I believe we should at that point just let it go. Our assumptions, standards, or advice cannot be hammered in - because at that point it only becomes judgment.
  14. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Often our frustrations with others are just a manifestation of our own feelings of inadequacy. My problem lies with the fact that many times the tone of "advice" on the board takes on a very superior attitude. And often it depends on who it's directed towards. Like in real life, on this board, we all have people who rub us the wrong way. If I see a post that has something I don't agree with, I usually don't respond. Sometimes silence if deafening. If I see someone in pain, I try to offer an encouraging word. You can usually tell what someone needs. Most often its not advice, it's just a shoulder to lean on. Offering suggestions is fine. But, belittling someone for not doing what we think they should do is juvenile.

    Since I am still on my path, since my son is still floundering, I don't feel I have to right to condemn anyone else's actions. We must remember that this journey we are on is not a vacation. We are parents with a job/a mission. Our job is to try to help our children---whether they are 5 or 25---to become all they can be. Sometimes, unfortunately, they don't want or can't accept our help. Those reasons vary. But, whether it is because of drug addiction or mental illness or stubbornness, really doesn't matter. They are still our children.

    Some of us reach our own "bottom' at different stages in the process. Others realize early on that no matter what we do, our children have to be invested. So, we stop investing so much. Others will bankrupt their souls and bank accounts to save their child. Neither is wrong. And both will end up at the same bottom, eventually.

    My son is now 20. He is no better off today then he was when I landed here 5 years ago. He just recently returned home because he dropped out of school and had no other options. I will not see him homeless. He goes before a judge tomorrow. He violated probation and may be sentenced to 2 years. If so, I will go and visit. I will put money in his canteen. I will look for halfway houses when he gets out. Am I wrong? Maybe. Should I just cut him off and never see him again? Can't and won't. He is my son. I love him. I don't like him or his actions, but love is unconditional. Will I help him get out of this? Nope. He will face the consequences for being stupid. I won't hire a lawyer. I won't write to the judge. I won't talk to his PO. I haven't done any of those things since he was 17 and told me he was grown.

    Am I right? Don't know. Am I wrong? Don't know? But I will do what I think I should despite what anyone else says.
  15. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    To an extent I agree, and if only it were that simple. I just can't stand to see people get sucked in over and over and over again with long explanations and hearts and flowers. It's upsetting to me to see a post with 800 hits on it and it's the same old same old that we have been telling that person for a year, because they asked for our advice and then ignored it.

    Ignoring them only works if everyone ignores them. Otherwise we are all by our presence being used to bolster up that person (seemingly) because they get a kick out of all the attention. The attention itself needs to stop, as well, in those cases. I can't make other people stop writing any more than I can stop that type of person from asking for our advice and ignoring it.

    It's kind of like getting crank phone calls or evangelical chain spam. As much as I would like to, I just can't ignore it.
  16. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I don't feel that any of that is wrong. You are doing what is right and comfortable for you. By the same token you didn't come to the board and say "I can't stand this, I'm so miserable I want to die, tell me what to do". You've vented and discussed and laid your soul bare and made an informed decision that you are comfortable with. I think that's healthy and reasonable.

    It's totally different.