Raising Non Judgemental Kids

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It is imperative that we encourage the young the heed the advice of the old saying: “Don’t judge the book by its cover.” Read the book, and judge it by its contents.

Mom and baby enjoying the morning sun
Mom and baby enjoying the morning sun

“Tuck in your shirt!”, “Wear a nicer pair of shoes,” “Comb your hair,” etc,. Those were some things my loving mother used to chide me during my youthful years.

She had often cautioned that people judge us by our appearances. Naturally, being a typical teenager, I wrote it off as nagging. However, her profound wisdom was deeply felt in an unforgettable incident a few years ago.

I had delivered a parenting talk at a local school on Parents-as-Coaches - an approach to parenting that I had been advocating since 2005. After the talk, a mother with whom I had shared the elevator ride confessed that she had expected the speaker to be a Caucasian in a suit. Instead, it had turned out to be a sporty-looking Asian father dressed in a T-Shirt and track bottom. When she first saw me fiddling with the laptop, she had mistaken me as the school’s technical support staff. That wasn’t flattering at all. In consolation, she expressed that she had found the talk very insightful and that she was extremely proud with the fact that all the materials I had shared had originated right here - in Singapore. It was a refreshing contrast to the prevailing parenting literature which had originated mainly from the western world.

The first thought that came to mind was, “Mum was indeed right. How we dress does matter!” I was glad that the above parent had sat through the talk and listened to the principles of parenting that I had to share. However, in life, we seldom get that second chance to revert the opinion that was formed during the first impression. Mum’s wisdom certainly sounds like something worthwhile to pass on to the next generation. After all, we do live in a judgmental world. To judge is human.

While being aware of how others judge us by our appearances is important, perhaps a more crucial lesson to teach our children is to resist the natural tendency to judge others by their looks. The truth is, when we judge, we cease to understand. We perceive others through the lenses that are coloured by our biases and prejudices. And without an accurate understanding of others, we are bound to make poor judgements.

Hence, it is imperative that we encourage the young the heed the advice of the old saying: “Don’t judge the book by its cover.” Read the book, and judge it by its contents. And in life, that translates into “Seek first to understand, then to judge.”