As Moms we judge often. In fact, most of us do it every single day of our lives.
The word "judge" is actually defined this way: "to form an opinion or conclusion about."
We form opinions about people and circumstances, and we come to conclusions about scenarios we observe daily.
This is not always a bad thing.
For instance, as Moms, our highest priority is the safety of our children. When we are out in public, there are many times that we "judge" a book by it's cover. We observe a person's demeanor, the way they are behaving, and make a judgement call on whether we think they should be anywhere in the vicinity of our family.
We also frequently form opinions on a variety of matters, whether good or bad.
This kind of judgement is good - healthy even.
We make a judgement call about the type of friends we want our children to spend vast amounts of time with, or when their screen time borders on excessive.
We form opinions about different feeding, sleeping and parenting techniques, and are quick to let everyone else in on that opinion.
That is when there must be a healthy balance between my personal judgement of an idea and the infringement of another's space.
There have been times when I, as a mother of four, have observed a young mom desperately trying to win at motherhood, and I just want to help.
She tells me how tired she is. How the baby won't sleep. How the toddler isn't eating right. Her life has changed so drastically that she doesn't even recognize herself.
Another parent might complain about their kids' behavior. They talk about the irritability they are dealing with. They are tired of the rudeness that seems to flow from their offspring's mouth.
There are times when I bite my tongue. Times when I just listen and nod.
However, there are times when I know I have something to offer this exhausted, worn out mother.
She is waiting silently, expectantly.
So, I lean forward, care and concern in my eyes...
"Have you tried...?" I ask. "Well, yes, I tried that once, and didn't like it," she says. Or, "that doesn't work for me," etc... The responses are all similar.
And, I've learned a little bit from these exchanges.
Most of the time, these tired mommies aren't wanting advice. Yes, there is the occasional one who really wants to know the best decision to make.
However, the scenario they would most often prefer is the one where I listen, I empathize, and then offer a hug and a hot-fudge sundae.
We are all trying so desperately to parent with excellence.
When we become parents, especially for the first time, there are so many lessons to learn.
Our survival in parenting is often due to a great deal of trial and error.
Most moms and dads will land in a somewhat comfortable place when it comes to raising the next generation.
And even if you think that you have a better way to handle their children, you would do better to hear some well-meaning advice.
Let us spend the most energy on raising our own children with honor, respect, and intention. And, when we meet someone that really wants to hear our opinion, may we speak honestly, but carefully.
And, when they neglect our very sound advice, remember to "come to your conclusions" carefully.
After all, who are we to judge? :)