Several years ago, I decided I wouldn't judge people based on how their kids behave. I am also proud to say that I came to this conclusion prior to having kids myself. I will admit to judging based on how they parent their children, but that's a different story, and I'll tell you why right now.
Today I took the younger two kids to the grocery store. Because the big cart with the double seats didn't have any buckles, I had to use a regular cart and let Hunter walk, which is not ideal. He's two. I should also admit that I was at said grocery store because we had NO breakfast food in our house (it's been a crazy couple of weeks... but that is a whole other post). Being that there was nothing breakfasty at all in our house, I stopped at Burger King. I ate the sandwich and gave Hunter the hash browns. He loves hash browns.
About three-fourths of the way through our shopping trip, Hunter had been behaving amazingly well, he decided that he wanted to push the cart. In making this decision, he figured he needed his hands free, so he put his half eaten hash browns down on the ground.
I held the cart in place, much to his frustration, and asked him to pick up the hash browns. He refused. He didn't throw a fit, he just simply didn't want to do it. He wanted to push the cart and "help the baby." I stood my ground (this is one of the reasons it is best to do all grocery shopping prior to 10 AM- no crowds) and calmly told him "The cart will not move until you pick up those hash browns. If you're done, we can find a trash. If you want them still, you can carry them." We were locked in a nearly silent battle for several minutes (felt like an hour) after this; him pushing an immovable cart and me pointing at the hash browns on the ground.
An elderly woman was perusing the shelves a few feet from me and chimed in, "I'm not leaving until you do, because this is a good show!"
I immediately thought, Haha. Kids being bad are funny. Haha. Great.
But then she came closer and said, "We've all been there, I raised six myself. They all do this, but not all mothers do what you're doing. You're a good mom. Tell yourself that." Then she good-naturedly wagged her finger in my face and left with a small smile on her face.
I almost cried. I'm crying now, to be honest with you.
THIS is why I don't judge people based on how their kids behave, but rather how they parent their kids (and even then, I try really, really hard to withhold judgment at all because I have had my share of "those days"). Sometimes the effort is not evident in the results. I didn't do anything to encourage Hunter to throw his food on the floor, or to be defiant when I asked him to pick it up.
This woman, who I have never seen before, and will likely never see again, not only saw the effort, but praised it, even though the results were not immediately evident.
I saw on someone else's blog once (if you wrote this, let me know and I'll give you credit) "I need friends who don't judge my kids based on my lack of experience as a parent." And she's right. I need friends who see the effort I'm making, and give me credit for that much. I'm lucky to have friends like that here in Orlando, and I'm so thankful to this woman for not only seeing the effort, but taking the time to bolster up a stranger.
So, if you see a parent around you who is really doing their best, but maybe the kids aren't necessarily reflecting that effort, take the time to tell them that you see behind the behavior, and you see the effort being made.