By Prachi Chitre
"Come on Mom, don't be so judgmental!" exclaimed my counsellor friend's 14-year-old daughter to her. Oh, the perils of being a counsellor -- we get back with interest what we give our children. "Don't be judgmental" is a doctrine by which all of us are supposed to lead our professional lives. We are trained to be objective and not let our personal beliefs interfere in our counselling. After a few years of practice, some of these traits get imbibed even in our personal lives. We are often able to observe people and events objectively, and subconsciously as parents we try to teach our children the same. And then one fine day, our children give it back to us!
As humans, we are very quick to jump to conclusions, analyze, criticize and pass a verdict on everything that happens in our lives and sometimes even in our neighbours' lives.
Like sponges, kids absorb everything that we say and firmly believe that they are hearing life's truths.
Utterances like the ones below are common:
"She is so dark" or "She is so fair, I doubt if she has ever walked in the sun."
"I am sure she does no work at home, how could she go for a walk at this time?"
"He must be involved in some shady business. Otherwise, how could they afford a house like this?"
"They have no time for their kids, the maid is bringing them up!"
"They have enrolled their child in XYZ school, I am sure they can afford better!"
"Gujaratis/Bengalis/Delhiites/fill-in-the-blank are like this."
The list is endless but we often do not realize that we are passing on our judgments to our children. Like sponges, they absorb everything that we say and firmly believe that they are hearing life's truths. They also start speaking in tones that match our judgmental ones.
"That boy in my class is dumb."
"This girl is so dark, I do not want to be her friend."
"Aunty is so fat she should not eat ice cream."
Again, the list is endless.
Yes, we are entitled to our opinions and maybe we have formed them after some experiences. But can we stop ourselves from passing judgments? Let opinions be opinions. We have not walked in the other person's shoes. We are not aware of their journeys. We are not aware of the trials and tribulations of another person's life. And they owe us no explanation! Maybe the woman who walks at odd hours has no other time; maybe she woke up really early to finish off her chores. Maybe the man has really worked hard to own a lavish house. Maybe the parents have no choice but to leave their kids with the maid.
Help your child understand the difference between a belief and a fact.
The least that we can do as parents is to not let our children be affected by our views. Let us not sow the seeds of being judgmental in them. Let them give everybody a fair chance before they form their opinions. Let them not believe in branding communities or people on the basis of their colour, religion, occupation or residence. Let them learn to listen and see the whole truth. So, the next time you feel like making a comment on something or someone, just be careful that your child is not around. And the next time that your child makes such a comment, help him or her see the other side of things. Help your child understand the difference between a belief and a fact.
If as parents this is one trait that we can teach our children, they will learn to be more accepting of others and their differences. In the larger scheme of things, will this not result in more harmony, higher camaraderie and less violence, and a better society to live in?
Prachi Chitre has more than 15 years of experience in the field of mental health. She holds a Masters in Human Development and Bachelors in Psychology. She works with appystore.in to guide parents through her blogs and her Ask the Expert session. Watch Appystore parenting videos by Prachi Chitre here.
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