The minute I saw this post in my facebook feed, I knew I had to share it.
One of the biggest issues I’ve experienced over the years (an issue shared by most fellow parents) is the judgement we face as special needs parents. How we can rise above judgement? How can we stop it denting our confidence in our parenting?
Wherever we go, we are judged for what we do and for what we don’t do.
We’re judged for our kid’s behaviour. We’re judged for our response. We’re even judged for having the temerity to be out and about with our children, trying to live our own lives.
We’re judged for the decisions we make. We’re judged for our education choices, therapy options, medical interventions and lifestyle. We’re judged for doing things differently. We’re judged for not pushing our kids enough and again when we push them too far.
It’s not just about why we are judged. It’s the fact that we’re judged by everyone – family, friends, acquaintances, specialists and even strangers on the street.
I know how this relentless judgement affected me in the early years of my parenting journey. As a first time parent, I already felt unequal to the task of parenting. So, when my first born son received the first of his many diagnoses when he was only 11 weeks old, my confidence as a parent fell through the floor.
As a newbie parent I had no idea what I was doing. When an extra element of complexity was thrown into the mix with a diagnosis I didn’t understand, it nearly brought me completely undone.
You can only imagine how the judgement of others pushed me even lower in those first few years.
Any confidence that I miraculously developed in those first years was obliterated in an instant by an idle comment or judgemental look from others.
It took me a long time to build up the confidence I needed to be the parent my kids needed me to be. It took me even longer to realise that the judgement I was unconsciously taking on board every day, didn’t matter.
That’s right – the judgement we are subjected to each day doesn’t matter.
You see, the looks, comments and opinions of others can only affect us if we let them affect us.
No-one knows our situation. No-one can possibly understand what we deal with each and every day.
If the stranger in the supermarket had a glimpse into the work you put in just to get your child out the door that day, they wouldn’t dare tsk tsk at you in the middle of the dairy aisle.
If your sister-in-law, could see the many hours of advocacy you put in to get your child the education they deserve, she would stop commenting on the state of your house.
Only we, as special need parents, understand the complexity of our lives. Only we can fully appreciate how the decisions we make positively impact on our whole family.
So why do we let the ignorant judgement of others affect us so much? Why do we continue measuring ourselves up to standards that just don’t apply to our situation?
We need to accept that we’re on a different path to others. We need to accept we are running our own race, with our own rules and our own measures for success.
In other words, it’s time to recognise that the judgement of others has no relevance to our lives and we should be comfortable in ignoring it when it comes our way.
When you get down to the nitty gritty, how can an ill-informed judgement, based on incomplete information, carry any worth anyway?
But how do we learn to rise above judgement?
I found that once I accepted that the ignorant judgement of others was worthless, I was able to start ignoring the judgement and concentrate on running my own race as a special needs parent.
It took me time to embrace this new philosophy and there were times I couldn’t ignore the judgement coming my way. But, in time, I found ways to help me learn to ignore the judgement.
I reminded myself that my family does things differently. I told myself my parenting looks different to others and that was okay. I accepted that being different wasn’t wrong. I embraced how my own parenting style works for our family.
As time moved on, I became more confident and proud in my decision making. As I watched my kids progress, reaching milestones I once thought were out of reach, I started to finally back myself. I began to believe I was on the right path and that I was right to ignore the judgement of others.
These days, I no longer feel the need to explain myself for the way we live our life. I don’t need to defend my choices from those who will never understand my personal reality.
Learning to ignore judgement has freed me and my family from unrealistic expectations. More importantly, it’s opened up a new world of possibilities and opportunities, where there are no expectations and anything is possible.
Never let anyone else make you doubt yourself and your parenting.
The wording in this post is spot on:
‘Don’t let others who don’t understand your child’s struggles, make you doubt your parenting.’
No-one else will ever fully understand your child’s struggles, your own challenges or the unique dynamics of your family. They do not understand your situation and therefore cannot ever make an informed judgement.
Remember, an ignorant judgement, based on incomplete information, is worth nothing. Especially to you, the person with all the information at hand.
Stop paying attention to judgement. Start valuing yourself, your parenting and the positive impact your decisions have on your family.
Never again let others make you doubt yourself or your parenting x
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Hi Kirsty, thank you for such an excellent post. Yes, as a special needs parent we experience a fair a bit of judgement, as you so correctly point out, for all the things we do and don’t do. Sometimes it is hard to let all those “idle comments” go because they hurt when we are just trying to be the best parent we can be. Keep up the good work!
This really resonates, though I must admit it’s from the ‘judger’ point of view. I’m a bit of a neat / clean freak and struggle sometimes with constantly untidy friends’ places. Of course I realise it’s their business and also conscious that stuff sitting around since last Xmas could well be a sign of depression and hoarding and the like so it’s hard to broach / ask if they need help. (I do try to fold and put away washing for one particular friend when I’m babysitting as I know it’s time-consuming for her.)
I suspect I’d be a crap parent so daren’t comment on that stuff. (Also when my godson is over I’m constantly nagging him to put away some toys before getting the next out, wiping up spills etc…)
There’s that weird interim place where logically you know someone else’s judgement doesn’t’ matter but it still stings emotionally. Moving past that is sometimes really hard.
Oh that did resonate. I know I have judged. It is human to judge but what I know I have learned over the years is “compassion”. I also try to put myself in that person’s shoes. I also, if it is appropriate, will give a parent who is having a hard time out in public with a child/children a little look of understanding…in the hope it is ‘read’ properly too. What is that saying, something like ” don’t judge another till you have walked in their shoes’
I am sorry for the times you have felt judged. I looked at that image of you as a first time ,mum and all I see is love.
You are doing so marvellously. How do you judge you?
Thank you for linking up for Life This Week. Next week the optional prompt is Taking Stock, I hope you can join in again. Denyse.