Monday, May 19, 2014

Judgement is Bad, Unless You Are Judging About Being Judgemental

There are a lot of blog posts and articles out there, railing against judgemental moms. 

I used to belong to a message board where someone had the following signature line.

Judgement is Not Always Wrong.

And, you know what, I agree.   I think judgement has it's place.  We've gotten to a place where people are so hypersensitive about judgment that the only thing you are allowed to judge is being judgemental.

Not judging PEOPLE mind you...judging PEOPLE is always bad, because we can never know what's in another person's heart.

But, judging actions, or things?   I think there are a lot of useful and helpful reasons why we SHOULD judge actions or things. 

Judging actions or things helps give us a framework for what is good and useful, versus what is harmful. 

For example. 

Soda = bad.  We all know that.  If there anyone who actually thinks that soda is a good, wholesome, nutritious beverage?  I think not. 

Does that mean that people who drink soda are bad.  NO!  Of course not.   But, judging that soda is bad, gives me impetus to not drink it very often.  Soda is yummy.  Soda tastes good.   Soda can give you a temporary burst of energy.  So, without my mindset of knowing that soda is generally not healthy, I would have no reason to stay away from it *most* of the time.   I do drink it very occasionally at parties or whatnot, but without my personal judgement that it is bad, I would probably drink it a lot more often. 

Let's take a more controversial parenting example.

Too much passive screen time = bad.  Does that mean that parents that give their kids passive screen time are bad parents? NO!!  My kids have screen time.   They use the computer, they use the computer quite a bit. 

Yet, having the idea that too much passive screen time is bad, gives me the motivation to moderate their screen time more.  Without the idea that too much is harmful, I would have no motivation to stop them from watching movies all day.  After all, it'd be a heck of a lot easier to just let them watch as many movies and sit in front of the computer as much as they want to, than to moderate it.  I have to be able to judge that too much of something is bad, to be able to teach them how to use the computer or other devices in a healthy manner.   Same thing with myself.  If I want to limit something or stay away from something, I first have to judge that it is harmful or bad, at least to me, if not to anyone else.   

And, obviously there are legitimate reasons to use screens and computers.  They can be great educational devices.  Heck, they can even be great babysitting devices, and sometimes you just need that little bit of time.  However, judging that too much screen time is bad, is what prevents me from overusing screens as a babysitting device. 

Even soda is useful at times.  If I am coming down with a sun/dehydration induced migraine, caffeinated soda with lots of salt and sugar can sometimes cure or stop the migraine.  It's the combination of caffeine, salt and sugar that seems to do the trick (so decaffeinated or diet sodas don't work).  The fact that soda is useful in certain unique situations doesn't negate the fact that the rest of the time, it is not the best thing to drink. 

Everyone does bad things, everyone messes up, everyone makes mistakes, everyone chooses the "less than perfect" route at times, everyone takes shortcuts.   Maybe not everyone drinks soda, but everyone has some sort of junk food indulgence.  Maybe not everyone gives their kids too much screen time, but everyone has some way they screw up parenting.  Maybe they yell too much, or are too harsh, or too lenient or don't discipline enough or punish too much, or, or, or.  They only way we can keep ourselves from falling too far into our sins and mistakes is to judge that they are wrong and try to do better.  Judging that something is bad or wrong is the first step towards improving or changing or at least moderating that behavior. 

Not Everyone Comes to the Same Judgements.  My kids run around barefoot...a lot.  I know other moms probably judge me for that.   Some people judge that barefoot kids are bad.  And that is their choice. That is not my judgement, so I have no problems with my toddler taking off her shoes and running around barefoot certain places.  I'm not worried about "nasty floors" or "germs" or anything like that.  I'm just not worried about those things.   I believe that a little bit of dirt helps build a strong immune system...and my kids do have good immune systems.

But you know what, if other people judge that dirt is bad and kids running around barefoot is bad, that's their prerogative.  And, that's fine.

Different people have different worldviews.  Some people think that DIRT IS BAD AND MUST BE ALWAYS avoided.  So, they are going to view things with that framework in mind.

And, maybe the mom judging the iPhone mom works away from her kids all day and struggles to get as much time with her kids as possible, so *for her* using the iPhone at the park is "bad", because she has to use it for work all day.  That is her worldview, her framework in which she views things, so for her iPhone at the park is bad.  Doesn't mean it's bad for everyone, just means that she is looking at things through her own framework.

Same thing with the mom judging the iPad potty.  Maybe *for her*, as a mom of a toddler without special needs, for a toddler that has no special potty issues, that using the iPad potty *would* be bad, *for her* because she would use it out of laziness.  Maybe she just didn't think of or know of any other situations or special cases.   So, she judged it as bad, because she knows her own weakness and failures and tendency to overuse screen time.   Maybe it was careless or thoughtless of her...not thinking about other special situations?  But, aren't we all guilty of that at some time??

Which leads me to my next point.

Judgement Can't Actually Hurt You. can't.  If people judge me because my kids run around barefoot or my 20-month old toddler nurses in church or sometimes we go out and I don't notice that my kids have their clothes on backwards, or I ignore my kids at the park to read a book (and if I had a smartphone I would totally be on it) so what?   If I'm confident that what I'm doing is fine, then I shouldn't worry about what other people think.  Really, the most freeing thing you can ever do is stop worrying about what other people think.  And, if I'm too bothered by their judgement, well maybe there is something to it.  Maybe there is, maybe there isn't.   But, I know * for myself* that when I get most defensive about something, it is when I think deep, deep down inside that maybe, just maybe...they may be right.  But, if I think their judgement has no basis, then I can dismiss it out of hand and not even worry about it.

As a society, I think we need to stop being so hypersensitive about seeing judgement everywhere.  Maybe the people we think are judging us, actually aren't.  Or maybe, they are?  Who cares?  We need judgement as society to frame what is right and what is wrong.  I think that we can all judge that murder and rape and child abuse are bad.   Catholics judge that contraception and abortion are wrong (again..just the action..not the people).   The tricky thing is when we get into concepts that aren't so clear-cut.....things like child raising methods.  That is where the sparks fly. Everyone is always saying that moms should stop judging each other.  And they should.  But, maybe moms should also stop judging moms who they think are judging them.

And, maybe I should stop judging people who judge people for being judgemental.

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  1. Interesting! I agree, actually. Not all judging is bad. We all do it, all the time. My problem isn't when moms decide ("judge") these things for themselves and their own family; my problem is when you take a device (the potty, let's say) and then issue a blanket statement against moms who use it ("they're lazy!"). Ugh! I don't care if anyone judges ME for it, per se, but what a total lack of compassion and support for someone who might find it useful!

    Like you said, we're Catholic, so we can "judge" that contraception is bad. That judgment isn't wrong. But it would be a sin for us to say "that person who uses contraception is lazy, ignorant, immoral, and she's probably going to hell, too!" Nope. Not allowed. We can judge the utility of things without judging the person -- just like you said.

    I agree we should totally calm the eff down about people judging us (because people are always going to judge us, let's get over it already!) but we should also contribute our voices to saying that treating others with disrespect is NOT okay!

    Anywayyyy. We have a bunch of mutual facebook "likers." Small world!!

    1. I totally agree.....blanket statements about people are just about always bad...and we should always show compassion and support for others, as we never know what their unique situation might be.

  2. I totally agree with you! Different strokes for different folks. We all live our lives to fullest and we all make mistakes and we are all human! You might do something that I do not, but then again I might do something that you do not! Great read for the day :)

  3. This post definitely resonates with me, especially the bit on how the only acceptable judgment is judging those who judge. There is just too much debate about who is judging who and who is wrong and it's just overwhelming and a bit of a mindless debate. Thanks so much for your rational response.


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