Can you relate?
You’re at the grocery store with your child and out of nowhere, your child becomes unhinged. You may or may not know the reason for his/her change in behavior, but now you notice that everyone in the store is beginning to notice what’s going on. You can feel your face start to burn with embarrassment. You frantically start trying all the “things” to get your child to just settle down long enough so you can get the groceries you need, pay for them, and home. Unfortunately all the “things” aren’t working. To make matters worse, your efforts to calm your child are now making him/her more agitated and upset.
Then it happens….. your mental cup spills over & your anxiety hits an all time high. To make matters worse, you catch the eye of a few onlookers that are looking at you with those judging eyes….
You aren’t alone! Most Mamas in general have experienced some type of situation just like this one on some level. Judgement can also come in the form of friends and family that giving you unwanted advice parenting advice about your child. If you have a child on the Autism Spectrum, I KNOW you’ve experienced at least one of these types of situations and it can either make you feel really embarrassed or it can really piss you off! Fact is, judgement sucks! It triggers anxiety & fear which in return activates the fight, flight, or freeze response.
In the end, it can leave you feeling stressed, depressed and wanting to isolate you and your child from the world.
Why do people judge?
The Ego is one of the most powerful things that lives inside of all of us therefore it should be said. WE ALL JUDGE…yes even you Mama! It’s not that people make a conscious decision to be mean or nasty or make others feel bad. (Yes, I know some people are just nasty people in general, but that is NOT the majority of folks) It gives people that “I would never ever….” complex and it’s exactly what drives other people to judge us as Mamas when we’re dealing with our kiddos. Truth is, you can’t control people from judging you. There will always be someone that does.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
It’s pretty simple to do this. You don’t even have to have all the knowledge about Autism in order to start doing this today. When you’re in public and your child is having a hard time (meltdown or tantrum) and you notice people staring at you, you can simply say, “My child is having a hard time, please stop looking and making it harder on me.” Or something a long those lines. There’s nothing wrong with expressing how another persons actions are affecting you in the moment. It is not ok to start educating someone about your child in front of your child regardless if you think him/her understands what is being said. A good rule to follow is that your child ALWAYS understands what is being said around them, plus choosing to educate in the moment distracts you from helping your child. Your child should always come first.
If you don’t want advice from others (family/friends), you need to say that you don’t want it. Don’t assume that your facial expressions or body language is going to do that for you. Communication is going to be a skill that you need to master anyway while raising your child. If you feel uncomfortable verbalizing your needs, write it down in a letter and make sure you actually give it to the person.
Or don’t speak up
If expressing your feelings in any form isn’t your thing, then you need to consider why their judgment is affecting you so much. More than likely, it has more to do with how you feel about yourself than the actual judgement itself.
Check your own self-perception
Self-perception can be a major struggle with us Mamas. We are dealing with complex issues that don’t have easy or immediate answers. After a while, that starts to take a toll on how we look at ourselves. When our self-perception is distorted, it’s easy to see judgment from others. In fact, we almost seek it out or we go into situations expecting it. You need to remind yourself that you aren’t perfect and that you are doing your best.
Freaking out or losing your mind because you feel judged does nothing but give other people way more power than they need to have. It also makes the situation worse. Your attention will be off your child (who’s behavior will most likely intensify) and on to this person. In the end you’ll be left feeling way worse than you initially did. Instead try to count backwards from 10 to decrease your anxiety and hold off on emotionally vomiting your feelings out loud.
***It’s important to think as well as react logically and remember that you are also teaching your child how to react to others as well.
As a Mama, you have many jobs, but the most important job that you have is to parent your child. You are teaching your child how to emotionally cope in life. You are teaching your child skills in order to do this with the hope that your child will be able to live & enjoy life without your presence one day. You need to stop caring if your parenting/training looks weird or different from everyone else. The Ego shines bright when people are looking for ways to make themselves feel better or my superior than you. If you don’t want advice from others, say you don’t. Don’t emotionally react to any kind of judgement. It may not even be judgement. it may just be someone staring because, that’s what people do. Let them….