We have all heard the phrase, especially those who have entered into the realm of parenthood. It’s truly a lesson to live by: “When you know better, you do better”. But what does it mean? Does it mean that we walk around judging others because they don’t “know better”? Does it mean that we have to force ourselves to live a perfect life? Or does it just mean we take daily steps to improve ourselves and our quality of life? Well, I think you know the answer.
No one that decides to start running one day, runs a marathon the next. Similarly, no one that eats junk food one days turns into a raw vegan the next. That’s not sustainable! We can learn a lot about life and learning from babies. They take the time they need to master the skills they eventually possess. This is why not every baby crawls, talks, or walks at the same time as the next child. They don’t “cram for tests”, they regularly study until the skill is mastered. And there is no judgment in learning.
So take heart, my friend! There should be no judgment in your life-long learning pursuits. Whatever you are trying to do to better for yourself and for your family is admirable. Remember that “better” is relative. The person that runs a 10k considers a marathon to be better, while the couch potato knows that just jogging around the block is better. So whether you are parenting differently, eat differently, or do anything differently than your neighbor, you are on a different path, living a different life.
We cannot judge those that are putting their all into improving themselves. We also cannot feel judged by those that are trying to take baby steps to better themselves. It is time to put our pride aside and realize that in order to progress as a human race, we all have to do our own little part, at our own unique pace. So don’t feel judged or inadequate if you aren’t where your neighbor is, and remember to help encourage those that are trying to reach a certain goal.
And in the end we cannot be perfect. And we definitely cannot be perfect 100% of the time… I mean really. That sounds ludicrous doesn’t it? It’s hard enough to be a parent, but even harder when everyone seems to judge every minute detail of our lives. So when you see a baby who is not strapped into their car seat correctly, but the next time they are in there nice and snug… applaud the mom for what she has done because she is trying to do better.
Are you trying to not yell at your children? Great! That is such a noble effort and sometimes we all fail even when we are doing better. Are you trying to detoxify your house from plastics and chemicals? GREAT. Your family will be so much healthier for it, but remember that sometimes it’s impossible to avoid certain contaminants so don’t beat yourself up. Are you trying to eat better? Awesome, I applaud you for working to improve your health…even if that means just not having french fries and a coke today. I know it’s hard; I struggle with it too.
We pick and choose our battles for our season of life and you never know what season someone else is living. And we are all doing better in the places that we can while maintaining in the places we can’t.
So to the mom who lets her kids watch TV all day but loves her children wholeheartedly … don’t let someone else tell you that you are a bad parent.
To the dad who works multiple jobs to put food on the table but doesn’t make it to their kid’s game… don’t let anyone tell you that you are not enough.
To the kid that is enjoying life but can’t master all the skills of their peers… don’t let anyone look down on you.
To the mom that can’t keep up with Pinterest and thinks she has to do it all… you don’t have to be someone you are not.
To the student who wants to impress… remember you are the only person that you need to please.
To the family that is trying to eat cleaner… don’t sweat the small stuff or the slip ups.
All that to truly say… “Do your best and ignore the rest”. Because we all do better when we know better and who does not want to improve themselves? I think its part of being human. Go encourage someone today. Don’t belittle them for not knowing something that you do. When you take one step and someone demands a mile instantly, you feel like the smallest person in the world. Remember that feeling. Encourage them on their journey to be better. Because we are all teachers and students — there is always someone who knows more about something than you do.
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!