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Monday, May 16, 2011

The Wakanheza Project Principles: Judgment

From The Wakanheza ProjectAgency Business and Community Organizing Guide:

"Principle 1: Judgment. We make judgments every day to help us make decisions. When we see a person who is struggling and we make assumptions and judgements abotu who they are and why they are behaving as they are, it is difficult if not impossible to see ways to be helpful, to see them as fell, worthy human beings. While it is unlikely people will stop making judgments, we can choose to acknowledge our judgments and put them aside in order to open ourselves to the possiblity of doing somthing that might be helpful to de-escalate a stressful situation. "

(Leah's commentary): If you are a parent, you probably can relate to this memory of mine: I was in the library with my 2 ½ year old daughter, reading books together, playing with the toys, and having a lovely time. Suddenly, I looked up and saw a classmate of my older daughter walk in to the library. I checked my watch, which I'd been checking regularly, and discovered it had stopped. School was out and my kindergartener was walking home to a terrifyingly empty house! I had to get my toddler out the door, helmet on, loaded into the bike trailer, and bike home in negative 5 minutes. AAAAAA! Stress!

Transitions are--to this day-- best handled with plenty of lead-time for my youngest. Tearing this toddler away from the library was not easy on the best of days, and I was fairly frantic at this point. Crying and planting of feet were involved, along with some harsh words on my part. All the while my heart was racing with worry for my older daughter and embarrassment for having made such a blunder, and frustration with the situation and myself. It felt like the eyes of the whole library were on me, particularly the parent of my older daughter's classmate, which didn't help my feeling of panic.

Who knows if they were really judging me, but I certainly felt like it was happening. Thinking about it now (it still makes my heart pound!) it gives me a little more sympathy for the parents and children who are not handling their leave-taking of the library with the dignity and decorum one might hope for. Under normal circumstances, I was careful to allow my daughter plenty of time to get used to the idea that we needed to leave, finish what she was doing, and follow the library-related rituals we always had. When I didn't have time to, and my own panic and embarrassment were making me much less of a clear thinker than usual, I just did the best I could at the time.

Most parents are doing just this: the best they can do at the time. If we can figure out a way to notice our initial judgment and then set it aside to lend a helping hand, it can make a huge difference to that parent and child. Good luck remembering we just don't know everything that might be going on in any given situation!