Judge or Be Judged

Judge or Be Judged

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There’s a high-profile celebrity case going through the courts in America now. I’m not going to mention who, or how I feel about it, but it has got me thinking about judgement. Someone said this morning that we judge so that we won’t judged! It’s so easy to judge others and even when we think we’re not we very often are.

When living or working with children and young people with difficult starts in life it is easy to judge the family situations and say, “how could they treat their children like that?”. Or if we see a child behave in an inappropriate way to springs to our minds without any hesitation “must be the parents”.

If anyone ever says to me that they don’t judge or that they are non-judgemental I must keep my response to myself, as I know it’s often not true. I’d love to think I’m not, but I know I am. 

Of course, thinking something and saying it are two very different things. You can think something judgemental about another person and not say it – keep it to yourself.  The other person may still feel our judgement, as it is hard to hide, even if you don’t use the words in your head.

So, what is the impact of our judgementalism? (is that even a word?). 

If you are working with families in any guise, then they are often familiar with being judged by others. A breath of fresh air is when someone comes and listens to you and your side of a story without laying their own judgements on you. As I look at the high-profile case I mentioned earlier, regardless of how I feel about each individual (of which I have no real knowledge) I know that there is more to it than we see. There are always two sides and it is always much more complex than we think.

When I think about children and their parents it becomes even more complicated. We might consider things like children are not to be blamed for their parents’ mistreatment, sometimes parents and their children have other influences on situations such as mental health or special needs, not everything someone says whether child or adult is true, and of course our most vulnerable are always to be protected no matter who is at fault.

Of course, we like to judge but do not like to be judged.

I think of this often when in schools as we are talking about the punitive systems we operate. I know as an adult I would not want my name under a sad face on the board for not washing up my coffee cup or for being upset about something. Why do we insist on judging our children to standards that we would not put ourselves under? A child fidgeting because they are hyperactive or hypervigilant due to domestic abuse does not deserve to be punished for fidgeting. A young person trying to find their voice by given the contrary opinions in our lessons does not warrant a detention for talking back.

The standards by which we judge are often not how we would like to be judged. I don’t often quote the bible in my blogs but there is a verse where a crowd of people are wanting to stone a woman caught in adultery – Jesus clears the crowd by saying “those of you that are without sin cast the first stone”. 

I feel like I’ve jumped on a soap box today – it’s obviously something I’m more passionate about than I realised! My lesson or thought I’d like you to consider then, whether you work or live with vulnerable children is this – how can we show non-judgementalism to those around us? I’m sure you know how it feels to receive that kind of connection with someone – where you feel seen and understood and not judged. So, let’s endeavour to develop that skill ourselves – you may think something about another person but keep it to yourself and learn to show love and acceptance of others. 

This doesn’t mean we accept abuse, inappropriate behaviour or that we don’t try to support someone to grow. We will only do that though through connection, understanding and empathy.

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