Have you met a judgmental person over 40?
Have you wondered how not to be a judgmental person yourself?
Recently, I enjoyed an amusing conversation with a colleague. We chatted about her brother. It seems years ago, he was …shall we say …more than generous sharing parenting advice – all without being a parent himself! It made me think about myself. As a seasoned woman with lots of life experience, I wondered if I was ever a judgmental person over 40? The “over 40” element is important because we assume we are knowledgeable because we older. This is not always the case.
That conversation with my coworker cracked me up. Isn’t that exactly how people are? Without direct experience with a situation, they can be so swift to say things like:
“Why do you do it that way?
“All you have to do is…”
“If you plan better, then you wouldn’t have to…”
Several years later her brother married and had his own children. You know the story.
“Now, he knows what it’s like” my colleague said with a giggle.
In fact, he’s now falling victim to so many of the parenting snafus that made her late to events, make runs to the pharmacy and run low on diapers.
She’s a much better person than I am; because I would rub his nose in it every chance I got. Then I’d likely call him a butt-head for good measure. Hey, that’s what sisters do!
You’re the bomb, but..
As part of my own 40-something journey, I’m learning the very people who think they are the proverbial all-knowing teachers, discover soon enough they are nothing more than life’s vulnerable pupils. So much of life is not about the choices we make, but about the beautiful chaos that is living it. You’re kids are not doing well just because you were a terrific parent. Many, many good parents’ did the same things you did and their kids went astray.
I’m sorry, but you’re not the only reason your marriage is rocking. Sure, you’re a good wife, but countless “good wives” saw their marriage crumble due to no fault of their own. In fact, many of them did the exact same things you do. Do you understand what I mean?
News Story Syndrome
Have you ever watched the news with a detached sense of ‘that could never happen to me? I have and often do. However, the truth is very likely any given situation could actually happen to us. Sure, there are some absolutes, but not many. Have you noticed the newscast on-scene interviews always feature some poor person shocked the misfortune came to (or near) them? Yep, life can happen anywhere. For example, my neighborhood is quiet and crime-free, but I know it’s not above law-breaking behaviors – again, no place is. So, we can’t get what I call “news story syndrome” and think anything can never happen to us. Again, there are some absolutes, but not many.
How not to be a judgmental person…
My conversation with my colleague reminded me to choose compassion over instantaneous judgment or giving unsolicited advice. When folks are struggling with something big or small, I hope to veer in the lane of being an encourager rather than an advice-giver.
Yes, I’ve lived a rather long time, and yes, I have acquired a great deal of insight, but that doesn’t mean people want my life lessons when they are having a hard time (and maybe not yours either). No one appointed us seasoned 40-somethings ‘designated problem-solvers’.
No, I’ll give my advice when solicited. Otherwise, my responses will be along the lines of “what can I do to help you?” or a supportive “you’re doing great, hang in there”. I’ll remember I likely have been there before in my lifetime or I could be there one day in future. But, by the grace of God, there go I.
Since this is really an over-40 style blog, here’s my outfit today. What ya think?
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