Judgement: The ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions. –Oxford Dictionary
I got in a bit of facebook trouble today (as you do sometimes) when I posted a Miss. Judgey Pants remark that went like this:
“Society has taught us to hold into our material possessions, but not to hold on to our babies.
A young fit father was pushing his three or four month old baby in a stroller with one hand and holding a coffee in the other. The baby was screaming and shaking. Dear Sir. Put down your coffee. Stop pushing the stroller. Pick up your baby!”
I know, I know, we’ve all had crying babies before. In fact, I actually like it when my babies have had a good cry (in arms) because I know it’s a natural way to release accumulated stress and tension. And, it could have very well been that if the coffee dad had picked up his baby, the baby STILL would have been crying. I know, maybe the dad was exhausted. Maybe he didn’t know what to do, etc.
Heck, I bet this guy is a great dad. I bet he takes wonderful care of his baby and is loving and caring…. I got a few positive comments from posting this and a mighty few “Kate, shut the hell up, how DARE you be so judgmental“.
I would never judge a person on the colour of their skin, for their looks, personality, disposition, learning abilities or physical disabilities or other traits. I would never judge a person who was stuck in an undesirable situation. In fact, I wasn’t actually judging the coffee father so much as judging the whole society and classifying the scenario as a whole system fail. I don’t look down on people, I know we’re all human. I’m actually a very compassionate and understanding person… but isn’t using our judgement part of daily life? Aren’t there some things that we SHOULD judge?! Aren’t there some actions that should be judged so that they are not repeated again or so that the appropriate action can be taken to fix them?
Would you knowingly let your child into a household that you knew was violent or dangerous? Would you want to help if you knew someone was abusing a child? Do we judge whether certain items, like car seats and baby carriers are safe for our children? We carefully judge which foods to eat and what schools to send our kids to. Do you see what I’m saying? We make judgements all the time!
Could I make a judgement about our society just by observing the actions of that one father? Could I see that the father was probably overwhelmed, under-informed and over tired. Oh yes, yes I could see that! Could I see that living in isolated households with not enough help is a stupid way for the human race to exist? Yes, of course! Could I have judged, by watching that father, holding his coffee and pushing the stroller with a screaming baby, that our society teaches parents to not actually hold babies when they need it the most (for the record, I’ve seen this scenario way too many times)? The studies are out there, crying babies who are not responded to over a long period of time become stressed. Their bodies make too much cortisol (stress hormone) and it actually inhibits brain development. Certain facts cannot be denied. I’m not talking about the parent who occasionally has to set down a crying baby (perhaps that was what the father with the coffee was doing).
We all do parenting differently and within certain life honoring values, it’s all good. But, when I see something that is strongly amiss, is it so bad to shed judgmental light on the issue? Maybe I could have made my statement more positive or more understanding… oops, my apologies!
The funny thing was that a few hours after the scene with the crying infant, I had my own crying child to deal with. We were in a clothing store and my younger daughter, who is just under 2 years old, started screaming while she was being carried around on my husband’s back in the baby carrier. I was helping my older daughter pick out some shirts in a store (ah, see how ironic, material things vs. crying babies, that’s nearly instant karma for you). My husband took her out of the carrier, and out of the store, but I could still hear her wailing while I tried to help the older one. Eventually, my husband brought her back to me, tears streaming down her face. He was holding her tight and smoothing her hair. He said, “She just needs you.” So, I picked her up, I held her tight. I didn’t shush her, I didn’t distract her, I just held her tight while she sobbed into my shoulder. All the while I was thinking of the crying baby in his stroller from earlier. I was almost wishing this cuddle could be for him and for all the babies who repeatedly don’t get a cuddle when they cry. Just remembering how I ‘judged‘ the coffee dad made me hold my little one even tighter. Some people really believe that you don’t need to pick up a crying baby AT ALL!
What if someone read my ‘judgmental‘ comment and realised that they actually felt better when they did pick up their baby? Maybe they would realize that the baby books, that say you can spoiling a baby by holding them when they cry, should be thrown out the window? I held her until she stopped crying, after which, she happily hoped down and started playing with the bras on the rack.
So, is there a time and place for us to use appropriate judgement? I’m not talking about doomsday, judgement of God, I’m simply talking about seeing the mistakes made by others and not wanting to repeat them. Can we all take a step back and see that there is a reason for judgment sometimes and that it’s not always a personal attack? If we never EVER judge, how would we ever come to our own conclusions about which parenting path to take?