Since becoming a parent I have recognized my inauguration into a community like none I'd experienced prior: the community of parenthood. At most times, this community offers grace, advice, understanding, consolation. However, many parents have also experienced those moments on the other, darker side, when empathy and respect are suspended and judgment takes their place. Let's face it, sometimes we are judged; sometimes we judge.
Melissa at Dear Baby wrote recently about an incident on the playground with her children that forced her to question her role as a fellow parent in this community. As a bit of background, she has always been very open about her young son Arlo's having photophobia, an eye condition that causes light sensitivity and requires that he wear a hat and sunglasses when outside during the daytime. (Though I'd venture to say that any reader who frequents the blog can attest that it doesn't, in the
least, seem to hamper his bright and bubbly spirit or his boyhood fervor.)
On this particular day, a nearby parent made a comment about Melissa's making her son wear "stupid accessories." Though hurt and itching to respond, Melissa chose not to react to the woman and instead simply enjoyed her time with her children. "If there is anything parenthood has taught me," she says, "it’s to stand tall in
what I know is right for my kids regardless of judgement from others." Though it's clear that she's also haunted by the moment, wondering still if she should have explained to the woman Arlo's situation.
Melissa's experience has opened up a heated conversation in her post's comments and also begs us to examine our own involvement in this community of parenthood. Are we actively seeking to foster a collective mindset of understanding and grace? And as members of that community, is it our responsibility to speak up to educate other members when, instead of understanding, we receive judgment from them?
(Image: Flickr user Brandi Jordan licensed for use under Creative Commons)