“That’s interesting that you talk to your son like that,” the woman said as we stood in the preschool pick-up line.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“This morning, when he was throwing a fit about going into the classroom, you were just talking to him about it. That would never work with my kids!” She laughed, “I lay down the law. None of this whining and crying about going to class!” The other moms chuckled in agreement. All of a sudden, I felt singled out. And embarrassed. And a little angry.
Actually, I was feeling judged. And I wrestled with it for the better part of that day.
What do you do in these situations? Here are three questions to ask yourself when you’re feeling judged:
1. Do I respect the person who judged me? Do they know and care about me?
There are times when someone who cares deeply about you, tells you something (hopefully in a loving way, but not always) that is spoken because they truly care about you. There is a mutual respect between you which acts as a foundation of trust when they speak these words, even if they’re hard to hear at first.
We all need people in our lives who can rein us in and redirect us from time to time. As Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
In other cases, the person who has judged you is simply misinformed, they don’t understand the full situation, or they don’t know your motives. Why did they say it? It could be a variety of things: self-righteousness, past experience, insecurity, lack of maturity, or some other unknown reason.
And here’s what you do with that: nothing at all. They expressed their opinion, but you don’t have to receive it one bit into your heart or mind. After all, God knows your heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
2. Is there any truth to what the person said?
Whether they know and care about you or not, this is a good question to ask. Is there any truth to what they said?
If you think the answer is yes, give yourself time to get calm and then ask: “How can I use this to help me grow as a person?”
Oftentimes, there is a little nugget of truth to what they said, but it may not all be accurate. Take what “good” you can out of it, and leave the rest behind.
3. Did someone actually judge me, or am I perhaps judging myself?
Sometimes we read into things a little more than what was intended. For example, when your mother-in-law says she thinks parents overuse screens these days, does she mean that you overuse screens? Or is she just making a general comment?
When a friend comes to a playdate at your house and says that she feels strongly about buying only organic food, is she saying that you were wrong to provide non-organic carrots for snack time? Or is she just making conversation?
It’s easy to take comments like this personally, but more often than not, no one is actually judging you.
As they say, “You are your own worst critic.” We tend to judge ourselves more severely than anyone else. When we come to a place where we are confident (and proud of) with the person and mom that we are, criticism loses its sting in our hearts.
After all, there are so many different ways of doing things in motherhood — all of which we feel passionate about because our children are so very important to us. But we need to remember that every mom is unique, with unique children, in a unique situation. What’s best for one mom might not be what’s best for you, even in a similar situation. Trust that you know your children and what is best for them better than anyone.
As Michelangelo said, “As you give out, so shall you receive.” Let’s choose to give out grace and forgiveness to other moms, rather than judgment. Just don’t forget to give it to yourself, too.
Tell us! Are you giving out the kind of grace that you want to receive in return?