This is the latest in my summer-long series, taking you on my journey of recovering from overwhelm and burnout and learning ways to sustainably keep going. Click here for the first installment, “Feeling guilty,” and click here for last week’s’s installment, “I didn’t think it was going to work, but it did.”
I want to talk about judgment this week, and its antidote, kindness.
Maybe at first glance it’s hard to recognize the juxtaposition of these two ideas, or even in recognizing it, to understand how one contradicts the other.
Listening to this week’s podcast episode, my conversation with wonderful therapist Shannon Connery, PhD, helped to crystallize this idea for me, because Shannon uses herself as an example, telling her story of casting judgment on someone in the grocery store, the mom of a small baby who wasn’t wearing a mask.
As she and this mom moved through the grocery store, Shannon felt judgmental about the mom’s choice to not wear a mask.
Shannon thought about all of the reasons why the mom should wear a mask, and made unkind conclusions about the fact that she wasn’t wearing one.
Then an elderly couple came toward them.
The mom whipped out her mask, and put it on at the last possible moment before encountering this couple, and suddenly Shannon understood:
The baby became super upset, screaming, and gesturing and reaching for that mask.
And the mom started to cry.
Shannon realized “Of course. Of course she’s not wearing a mask, because it’s going to be upsetting for her baby! And now, to protect this elderly couple, when she puts on the mask her baby is SO upset…”
She understood, and felt ashamed of her own judgmental attitude.
In our conversation Shannon and I go on to talk about how, whether we are judgmental or not of somebody else, chances are good they won’t even know how we’re feeling.
But the point is, we’ll know.
When we live in negativity like that, we see the world in a much more negative way.
Our conclusions – right or wrong – are more negative.
I’ve been thinking on this, and its antidote, kindness, this week, because in the Ninja Parenting Community we are going on “Kindness Adventures.”
In one post, I share about my son taking me on a Kindness Adventure – on our way to the grocery store, on a morning last week when I got judgmental about the person in front of us at the light, who just sat there and didn’t move when the light changed.
When they finally did recognize that the light had turned, and started moving, I said something about them – something judgmental – aloud to my son. (I don’t member my words exactly, but it was something like “finally! They got off their phone!”)
Thank goodness, he gently redirected me: “it’s okay, mom, probably they had something on their mind.”
I realized how judgmental I had been, and thought on all the ways that judgment of others affects me:
It puts me in a negative mindset.
It raises the cortisol (the stress hormone) in my body.
It brings up the number of negative and judgmental thoughts, when what I really want to do is have fewer of those kinds of thoughts.
When my son gently corrected me, I was so grateful.
I turned to him and said “thank you, you’re absolutely right. I will do my best to be kind from now on.”
It was a small kindness adventure, it’s true – but it came with a crucial lesson.
And the real reasons I needed to hear that lesson are threefold:
1. So I’m putting kindness (and not judgment) into the world.
2. So that my mind and body aren’t cortisol-ridden and stressed out. (Well, anymore than the pandemic is already raising those levels.)
3. So that I model kindness for my children, and within my sphere of influence.
“I AM raising a kind child”
I was reminded of the value of Kindness Adventures again today, when one of our Ninja Parenting Community members wrote about reciprocal kindnesses between her four-year-old and their neighbor, his young buddy, with whom they shared some outgrown pj’s:
“He loves sharing things with his friend (I AM raising a kind child!) and was absolutely thrilled to wake up yesterday morning to a card on our doorstep.
“The card was absolutely adorable – the little white blob in the top right corner is where she secured a dried hunk of white playdough as a gift for him. He immediately wanted me to take it off so he could carry it around like the prized treasure it is.”
This is a child probably much like yours, who has his “listening-ears-are-off” moments, and his outburst-type moments.
But this mom is raising her son to be a kind child, and as a result they are seeing more and more of the positive and prosocial behavior.
He’s learning about kindness as an essential value, tapping into his own kindness and empathy.
These are characteristics that every child has, and that we parents can bring out, impossible as it may sometimes seem. (In another place in our Forums this mom writes “I thought this was impossible, and we are DOING it!”)
I am SO proud of this mom (NPC members, jump into the Forums using the link at the bottom of this email, to support this mom, and so that we can support you, as well.)
The pandemic has been especially difficult on little children, who thrive on connection and, simply put, time with others.
This is one of the reasons why I believe school districts are struggling with opening virtually or not.
Depriving children of time with others will have lasting repercussions.
But of course the need for safety, of kids, teachers, and support people – and all their families – comes first.
It’s a huge struggle and one we will help you navigate during our upcoming free Pandemic Back to school Challenge! Stay tuned for more info on that later this week : )
This mom’s Kindness Adventures are important for so many reasons.
But especially because of the connections they foster, even though these two young friends cannot be together.
What are the real reasons that come to mind for you, when you think about focusing less on judgment, and more on kindness?
Always remember that I’m here for you.
We will get through this together!
What’s up on the podcast this week:
Placing emphasis on our most important values to get us through the pandemic and any crisis – we share our pre-pandemic crises, and what we learned from them, during this episode – with psychologist, podcast host, and wonderful therapist Shannon Connery, PhD:
What’s up in the Ninja Parenting Community this week:
A question about how to handle it when your child corrects you:
A video module on “going on a Kindness Adventure”:
(If you’re not yet an NPC member but you would like to become one, right now you can try the community for $1 for your whole first month – click the link below : )
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