I remember back when I had no children, it was so easy to judge all those parents who had screaming kids at the store.  After all, I would never allow my children to act like that.  Even when I was a parent of one, I found myself able to make these judgments because it was so obvious I was doing it right.  The truth of the matter is that everyone has made a judgment about another parent.  There are plenty who do so against me.  That’s when it hit me; there isn’t a right or wrong way to parent your child so long as you do so with love and their best intentions at heart. 

I remember going to Target a few months back and seeing a little girl throwing a temper tantrum of the year.  I gave the mom my best, “I’ve been there” reassuring smile.  Yet, as I passed I heard another mom say to her friend, “I can’t believe she’s letting that girl act like this!  At her age she should be able to be quiet in a store.”  I tuned her out after that but caught the all too familiar sentiment, “I would never let my kid…” 

The mom of the crying girl began to cry herself.  Not knowing what to do, I tried my best to console the mother.  It turns out that her daughter had Down Syndrome.  I couldn’t tell from her appearance, she didn’t seem to have any of the defining physical characteristics of a Downs child.  The little girl, who was four, was acting much younger.  And it sure wasn’t her mom’s fault. 

My point is that we never know what is going on in someone else’s life, the circumstances behind decisions that other people make.  Being a parent is hard enough without us judging each other at every turn.  One of these days it will be you with the screaming kid, despite your best efforts.  The last thing you need to hear on an already terrible day is that you’re doing it wrong.  Instead, let’s all just vow to be kind and reassuring to each other.  After all, we are all in this parenting thing together!

-Stephanie Wright

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