For the purposes of this post, I use the word Judgmental as it is commonly used, as a negative thing we ought not do. Not its actual definition of “Of, relating to, or dependent on judgment:”
I thought about this as I was going to sleep last night. Let’s try something. I’m going to paraphrase a comment that was made on this blog somewhat recently, but those comments aren’t unique in any way and I’ve heard similar statements elsewhere, a lot.
“If parents both work and have their kids in daycare all day, but the kids are happy when the parents get home, then what’s wrong with that? It’s obviously something that works for them, and that they like.”
Now, a game.
“If parents decide to formula feed, but the kids are happy when the parents get home, then what’s wrong with that? It’s obviously something that works for them, and that they like.”
“If parents spank or hit their kids, but the kids are happy otherwise, then what’s wrong with that? It’s obviously something that works for them, and that they like.”
“If parents have an elective C/S, but the kids are alive afterwards, then what’s wrong with that? It’s obviously something that works for them, and that they like.”
“If parents feed their kids crap food all day, but the kids are happy when the parents get home, then what’s wrong with that? It’s obviously something that works for them, and that they like.”
First, let’s talk about damage. Not all damage is obvious or visible. People can be really happy while drinking themselves into liver failure, for example. The damage is being done under the surface, where it’s not visible.
The damage done by the decisions we make as parents is, likewise, often under the surface. Not necessarily visible. The kids might seem, or even actually be, happy. Kids who get to eat cookies whenever they want, or watch Barney all day, are probably REALLY happy kids, at least on the surface. right?
Now, moving on, I chose the above examples, because they – like working full time – are all things that have been proven, through numerous studies, to be choices that are inherently NOT AS GOOD as the alternative.
If, then, someone points that out, is that being judgmental?
Getting 8 hours of sleep a night is better than getting 3 hours of sleep. That’s also been proven. Am I being judgmental if I say that someone who sleeps 3 hours a night likely isn’t getting enough sleep? Or am I making a statement of fact, based on the best available information? Is it possible that there are some people who function fine on 3 hours every night, and that is what is the absolute best for them? Yes. Is it likely? No. If half of the population of Iowa slept for only 3 hours every night, would it be accurate to say that MOST of them probably need MORE sleep? Yes.
Now, if I walk up you to and get all up in your grill about the decisions you make as a parent, well, I still wouldn’t call that “judgmental,” but I’d definitely call it rude. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about looking at, thinking about situations and decisions and possibilities….and then making a decision about whether one solution is inherently better than another.
I’ll take this one step further and say that a lot of people play the “it’s what’s best for our family” card (or even the “it’s what we feel God wants us to do” card) when the actual truth, perhaps hidden even from themselves, is that it’s simply what they WANT to do.
To compare it to something not at all related, if research suggests that the ideal C/S rate should be 10-15%, and a particular doctor in town has a rate of 60%, are we being judgemental in saying that his rate is too high? If that doctor responds that he does only what is best for his patients, should we believe him? Or is the truth more likely to be that it is really what is best for HIM, what HE wants. Perhaps he even really believes it IS best for his patients, but that doesn’t make it true.