The Science of Parenting

Just Say No to Judgment | Ep. 10

May 14, 2020 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Season 1 Episode 10
The Science of Parenting
Just Say No to Judgment | Ep. 10
Show Notes Transcript

Criticism can get the best of us as parents (and people). Learn to trust yourself as the expert of your own family.

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This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext

Mackenzie Johnson:

Hello and welcome to The Science of Parenting podcast where we connect you with research-based information that fits your family. We're going to talk about the realities of being a parent and how we can use research to help guide our parenting decisions. I'm Mackenzie Johnson and I'm a parent of two littles with their own quirks, and I'm a parenting educator.

Lori Hayungs:

And I'm Lori Hayungs and I have three children who are in three different life stages. One is launched, one is in college and one is in high school, and I'm also a parenting educator. And today we are talking about feeling judged and more importantly, parenting through the judgment. Yeah. Ooh, heaviness.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. Have you ever felt judged?

Lori Hayungs:

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Same.

Lori Hayungs:

But I feel like research might tell me I'm not alone.

Mackenzie Johnson:

You know, Lori , I think you might be right. Should we move into research number one? So looking at parenting judgment, this first research bullet kind of helps us understand, do parents feel judged and how do we understand that a little better? So a Zero to Three national parent survey reported that nine out of 10 parents report feeling judged. So it's a big club.

Lori Hayungs:

I knew that I might be on to something when I felt judged.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And a lot of times people might think that one gender or the other, moms feel judged, people talk about mom shaming and things like that, but 90% of moms reported feeling judged and 85% of dads. So there's a little difference there, but it's not like, oh, moms feel judged , but dads don't. Both report that they feel judged. And there's actually more to the story here. So adding a little bit to that, a 2015 Pew research study told us that parents do care a lot about how others perceive their parenting skills. So we do feel judged and we still care how others perceive our parenting skills. So it's this fine, delicate balance of both. And so in particular, this Pew research study tells us that we particularly care about what our co-parent thinks and what our own parents think of our parenting skills. And not as many people reported, but still a significant amount, said their own friends, how they view their parenting and that people also cared about community members. So that's a lot of people to try to please.

Lori Hayungs:

So many people to please.

Mackenzie Johnson:

That's a lot of people. I think our writer, Barb Dunn Swanson, made the great point that it's human nature, right? We want to be liked and to want people to think we're doing a good job, especially with something as personal as their parenting. So when you think about your own parenting journey, when do you think of as a time that comes to mind that you've felt judged?

Lori Hayungs:

So I think that the one that really comes to mind, I was pretty confident in what I was doing around a certain method of communication. For instance, I taught my girls a couple of signs in sign language early on when they were young, like 10 to 11 to 12 months. And so I felt pretty confident. I felt research backed me. I believed in what I was doing as I was teaching my first child the sign language, and then my second child. And so I believed in what I was doing, research backed me, etc. But what happened was that with my second child, she didn't talk very early. And in fact, she had delayed speech. And so I remember in particular feeling very judged because I heard and people would tell me, they would want to give me good advice, but they felt that it was because I had taught her sign language that she wasn't talking. And so that judgment of you did something incorrect in your parenting and that's why she has this delay. Well , that was a hard one because it wrecked my confidence. Even the research told me I was on the right track, but it wrecked my confidence.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, and that's a hard feeling. I mean, there's so many questions. You know, we question ourselves a lot as parents anyway. And then to have people with the judgment that comes with it of well, you did this wrong or you're not getting this right or the reason this hard thing is happening with you and your kids is because you're not doing things right. Oh, that's a devastating feeling.

Lori Hayungs:

And you're hurting your child. So I have a research bullet for you from that Zero to Three report that you mentioned earlier, the national parent survey, that report tells us that actually the problem is that judging and criticizing parents actually causes them more stress and it actually makes it less likely that they're able to handle challenging moments in ways that are sensitive, appropriate, and effective for the child. So, in fact, close to half of the parents that were surveyed in that study felt that they would discipline their child differently out in public because they felt stress on themselves. And I was reporting my lack of confidence felt like a huge lack of competence. And I totally can understand where half of these parents were saying that they would deal with discipline differently out in public. So we have a lot of people we're trying to impress. I guess essentially we're trying to please a lot of people and at the same time we're feeling not competent and it's causing issues with how we deal with our child. So was there a time you ever questioned yourself?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, I guess you're in good company. Nine out of 10, I would say. It's not necessarily a specific situation, but in general I would say I tend to feel judged when other people maybe would perceive my child is misbehaving and maybe what I see, I might view it in a different light of, oh you know they are having a hard time or this is a really tough feeling for them or they're slow to warm up or whatever. I might perceive it a different way and other people might perceive it as my child misbehaving. And I feel like people maybe judge me that I'm not tough enough on my kids or I'm not firm enough or that I don't address the misbehavior in their mind. Where I tend to approach more of what I think might be going on behind why that behavior is happening. So I sometimes feel judged that way.

Lori Hayungs:

You know your child best, you know their temperament, you know their personality and you're making a choice to parent them a certain way because you know what a different outcome could be. And so where they might be saying and judging something they see as inappropriate behavior. No, actually I'm taking the time to let my child process what's happening so that we can get through the rest of the day or the rest of this trip to the store. We have no idea what's in other people's backpacks. Let's just say that. Oh my gosh, you have no idea what's going on with people's lives and how their decisions come to be.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. And I think that's such an important part and we talk about it at the beginning. We talk about what we believe and it's a ground rule for us, that this is a judgment free zone for that exact reason, right? You might see this 30 second window if I'm in public with my child that you see as misbehavior, that someone else might see as misbehavior, but as the parent and as an expert, I consider myself an expert, and I consider it other parents experts on their kids and their families, means that we might be doing things differently because we each have our own reality and we shouldn't judge each other about that. Right? This should be a judgment free zone because you're the expert and your reality might different than other people. And you know, can I get a little cheesy for just a second?

Lori Hayungs:

Cheese away!

Mackenzie Johnson:

Can we make that, we talk about it as a ground rule, but I guess I want to give a call out to our listeners and whoever might hear the message, can we agree that it's not doing us any good? You know, parents can judge other parents or non-parents judge parents or people who raised their kids a while ago and their kids are older. We're not doing each other any good by judging. Can we agree to try to trust other people that they know their kids best?

Lori Hayungs:

And your cheese led us right into the fourth bullet point of the research that we have. So like I said, cheese away! Let me read this. So it says, according to Mondell and Tyler, more competent parents treated the child as being more capable and resourceful, showed generally warm and positive feelings, and were more helpful with problem solving. So reel that back. When we feel more competent and not as judged, when we have the confidence in our parenting, we're actually treating our child as more capable. We're treating our child as more resourceful. We're treating our child more warmly, have more positive feelings toward them, and we're actually doing better with them at problem solving. So our whole relationship with our child is boosted because we feel more competent as a parent. So if nine out of 10 of us are feeling judged and that judgment leads us to a lack of confidence, think about how that impacts our relationship with our children. Okay. You got to fix this. Make me feel better.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And so that research does tell us that, so let's connect all the dots. Lots of us feel judged when we feel judged in our competence. And our confidence in our parenting goes down. We question ourselves. We doubt. Maybe we're less consistent in what we do, right? My child doesn't know what to expect because when we're with these people, I treat them differently. Or when we're in a public place, I treat them differently. Right? And all of that comes back to how we interact with our child and how we behave with our child. Those are big. That's coming from what sometimes people are, oh yeah, everybody says they feel judged. No, we do. And it matters. And it impacts how we do things.

Lori Hayungs:

Especially with that. But that part that you touched on, that consistency. If we're expecting things from our child one way in this room, and we will leave the house and then we expect something different in this place, and then we expect something different from our child with these people. That's three different ways our child has to figure out expectations. I mean, I can't think of any adult that wants their boss to think three different ways about expectations, you know? And so I think that we have to find that place. And like you said, that's what The Science of Parenting is here for. We want to give you the research to help you fill your toolbox because you know your family, you know your child. Your toolbox will be filled with research-based information that fits your family so that you feel confident and competent, which then impacts and boosts that relationship with your child.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So I think this kind of moves us into the your reality part. So we do these research bullets and we talk about our own realities and we share all that but we always to you've heard all this, now what? So as we were putting together this episode and talking about judgment and how it affects our parenting, I wanted to come up with this really tangible takeaway that you could walk away with for when you feel judged. Right? So like you said, help me feel better. If we feel judged, we're not feeling as competent. So I came up with a three step process for what do we do when we feel judged? All right . So , number one is to identify the moment, right? So as you reflect on a specific time or a specific place or specific people, whatever it might be, but identify what that is and when you are feeling judged. So recognize that feeling. Lots of us, maybe one comes to mind right away that was a little more salient and sticks in our brain. Number two, and this one can be really hard, is to reflect honestly and objectively on the feedback, right? And so sometimes the way that a message is wrapped, the words that people used or the tone or even the relationship behind that might be complicated. And so the feedback gets lost in that message. But thinking about what feedback that person was giving me and reflect on it , honestly. Okay, were they saying, I've had my husband, my co-parent, say to me, you seem like maybe you need to take a break. And that wasn't about judgment. It was about the feedback of, I'm noticing you're having a hard time. So taking that time to honestly reflect and consider it. You're taking it in.

Lori Hayungs:

Taking it in, taking it in. I've identified and I'm now in reflection. Oh wait, that sounds like Stop. Breathe. Talk. Okay, never mind. Sorry, I digress.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I still have one more.

Lori Hayungs:

I'll listen.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So number three, Lori, we're identifying, we're reflecting, now number three. So you've reflected, you've taken it in. Decide, right? And that sounds simple, but decide for yourself. You know your kids, you know your family, you know y ourself. Decide for yourself and then trust yourself that you're the expert, right? So identify the moment that you're feeling judged. Reflect on the feedback. Reflect on the actual message that you w ere receiving and decide. Decide if you know what they were saying was founded or that they maybe didn't have all the information you have as the expert on your kids, and then trust yourself. You can do it. So this is the bat signal, M ackenzie. S top. Breathe. Talk.

Mackenzie DeJong:

All right , so you've talked about judgment and I guess sometimes I can be a devil's advocate when it comes to things, especially when you're like, oh, don't judge yourself. Don't judge others. So as an onlooker, as a family member, as someone who's there on the outskirts or as a parent, you also have friends or other family members that are feeling the weight of bad judgment. Does that mean that I can't show concern or support. What to you is the difference between judgment versus support versus concern? And how is it best that instead of coming off as judgmental, that we show concern if something comes up?

Lori Hayungs:

Hmm , that's a great question for Mackenzie.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So I will say that a lot of times people assume, people that know that I teach parenting education or that I have the background that I do, will be like, oh, don't look okay. And they might assume, oh, well if you know all this stuff, you're going to judge me. You're going to think bad things. But we do have knowledge about child development and these things and so they do overlap. So I would say if you are someone who 1) is at least somewhat familiar with this person's reality, sure. If you are a stranger , usually it's not your place to pass a judgment. So if you're a stranger, you have no sense of this person's reality. I would not recommend it; that's usually just going to be judgmental. But if you do have some familiarity with what that person and those kids are usually like in what their life looks like, the amount of support time, yada, yada, so that would be one thing. Be somewhat familiar. My second thing would be to express concern and not judgment. so that might be in a way, like I've noticed..., right? So using what you've observed, what you actually see. I've noticed when this happens, this happens or I've noticed sometimes this. And so making an observation about what you see and then acknowledging that you have an interpretation about it, right? So it's not that this is the fact, when he does this, you do that and this is what happens. Acknowledging that you're interpreting. So observe it, share your story, it seems maybe this is what happened and then, am I misunderstanding that or is there more going on here I don't see? And then the other big thing I would say as a parent, it's okay if you express concern. Again, how that message is wrapped can affect how we receive it. But if you've expressed that concern and they've heard you, trust whatever they decide. Let's not, every time you see them, you reiterate, because that's when it moves into judgment, I'm judging what's good and bad for you instead of expressing a concern about something. So I feel like I said one, t wo, I don't know how many I said. I said a lot of things.

Lori Hayungs:

Then that comes down to that last piece of trusting them. You have to remember that. Barb Dunn Swanson , our writer, says things so eloquently. She would say, Lori, you can only control yourself. You can't control others. And so I can choose not to judge others. I can choose to share my concern in an objective way and then I can choose to love them along the way. I can choose these things because I am not able to control others.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Love them along the way. I love that.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Can I give snaps? I'll give snaps for that. Well, that's not a bad Stop. Breathe . Talk. space. And a fair question, right? It's not that no one can ever talk to you about your parenting, right? That's not what judgment is about. How do we talk to the people we care about when we do have a concern? Right? I like that question.

Lori Hayungs:

Parenting through judgment. There we go. So in summary, we tackled the topic of judgment and parenting through judgment. And you know, we talked about 9 out of 10 parents feel judged and men feel judged 85% and women are 90%. So there is a lot of judgment. We are hoping to please many people along the way. We want people to think that we're good parents and when we feel judged, we feel less confident and less competent and that competence impacts our relationship with our kiddos. So you talk about those three steps you did and we'll wrap it up.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. So when you're feeling judged, those three things we talked about in your own reality are identify the moment you're feeling judged. Take a second to reflect just on that. And then two , I already said it, reflect with honesty and reflect on the feedback you're receiving and then three, decide what you want to do considering that feedback. It might be deciding you don't care, or not that you don't care but that it wasn't relevant or that you have more information than they did. But trust yourself. Decide and trust yourself.

Lori Hayungs:

Definitely. So thanks for joining us today on The Science of Parenting podcast. Remember, subscribe to our weekly audio podcasts on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. Watch our show each week and then once a month, we'll come to you live on Facebook where we will take your comments and your questions in real time.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, so come along with us as we tackle the ins and outs, the ups and downs and the research and reality around The Science of Parenting. Thank you.

Anthony Santiago:

The Science of Parenting is a research-based education program hosted by Lori Hayungs and Mackenzie Johnson, produced by Mackenzie DeJong, with research and writing by Barbara Dunn Swanson. Send questions and comments to parenting@iastate.edu and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. This program is brought to you by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries go to www.extension. iastate .edu/diversity/ .