I love to garden. Scratch that. I love to get dirty and wear out my muscles. Often that ends up happening in my garden. My challenge is that I’m not consistent, and don’t make it a priority. That means, when I get to my garden, I spend most of my time contending with weeds.
As I spent several hours (days) weeding my garden and yard last week, I was convinced that there was a blog in it. I was going to call it “lessons from the garden.” What popped into my head, as I pulled and grabbed, was an image of an old-time preacher talking about “separating the wheat from the chaff,” and keeping your garden “clean.” I had to laugh. This is not at all what I “preach.” So what is the lesson?
Judgment is a challenging concept. It makes our lives easier if we can classify something as “good” or “bad.” That way we know what we want, or don’t want, right?
At the same time, judgment can also attach a stigma to the thing we are judging.
What if that “thing” is an ADHD child who doesn’t behave, or isn’t doing well in school? Judgment can be demoralizing and cause long lasting scars. Our kids often end up feeling beaten down and “bad.”
Or what if the “thing” is an ADD parent (you?) who loses her cool all the time? Judgment can be painful and disheartening. We lose hope and confidence because we didn’t do it “right.”
So what is the alternative? Do we have to live with the weeds in our life?
Not exactly. We can shift our perspective from one of judgment to one of acceptance, discernment and choice (A-D-C). Instead of seeing something as good or bad, you can choose to see it as it is. Determine what you want to do about it, make a choice and act on it.
It’s a fine line, I’ll admit, but an important one. Here’s what it looks like:
- Judgment: I can’t believe you forgot again. We have all these systems set up to help you remember. Why can’t you use them? You will never make it in high school if you don’t figure this out. What do I have to do, go to school with you every day?
- A-D-C:OK, you forgot your homework again. It looks like the systems we have set up aren’t working. What do you need to try next in order to help you achieve your goal? What help do you need from me?
- Judgment: I’m such a bad parent. No matter what I do I can’t stay calm. I’ve turned into one of those moms who is always yelling at her kids. It’s my fault that things aren’t better around here.
- A-D-C: Wow. I lost it again. That seems to happen whenever my kid doesn’t do what I ask. I don’t want to keep doing that. What can I try differently the next time this situation comes up so I can keep my cool?
It may seem that accepting bad behavior as it is somehow says that it is OK. Not at all. The truth is that once something has happened, it’s in the past. You can’t do anything to change it. Getting angry or frustrated typically doesn’t help anyone. You still have options. You have the choice to act or not. You can do something to change the future.
Handling situations this way can help you to avoid the threat cycle (see my blog called “stressed out.”) It can also have a positive, long-lasting impact on your kid’s (and your own) self-esteem.
So next time you find yourself heading down the path of judgment, think of the weeds, and the bugs, and especially the Beatles. And then, just “let it be.”