There is a saying that I have heard many times over my teaching career; I am sad to admit, I used to say it.
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”
When people say this, it is often accompanied with a sigh and an eye roll. We’ve all heard it and we all know what it means. It isn’t used in a complementary way.
“No wonder that kid is that way because his parents …” Now fill in the blank with any of the following:
…not the sharpest tool in the shed
…have a trucker mouth
…are disorganized, opinionated, messed up, pain in the asses!
I used to say this phrase without any pause. I never thought about the pain. I cringe when I hear it now. It hurts my ears.
There is a sound of know-it-all superiority when I hear it. I feel like turning around and snapping, “Do you think you could do better?! That freaking tree is probably exhausted and trying to do the best she can as an overwhelmed working mother of a sometimes challenging, quirky kid! There are no freaking manuals to handle this whole parenting thing and I think I’m doing pretty damn good!”
It seems that it is still very socially appropriate (if not expected) that we continue to judge each others’ parenting. Childless people are REALLY good at doing this!
I know, I used to be one.
That is probably why I used to get SO paranoid about my child’s tantrum in Target or his refusal to stay in an over-crowded and loud restaurant. I knew what Janet McJudger was saying because I have BEEN Janet McJudger!
I am quite sure that when I lost my mind and screamed and swore during a phone conversation with the special education director that she wasn’t considering what craziness finally pushed me to say those things; instead I’m sure she thought…
Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Here is what I would like us to consider….Before you make blanket, general statements that are filled with judgement…stop. Have empathy. Consider compassion.
Try the golden rule instead.
My son has taught me about the pain that judgment causes and that acceptance and understanding can go a long way. Without him, I think that I would be judging your parenting right now!