Teaching Children How To Judge Others

“When we do not know a person — and also when we do — we have to judge his size by the size and nature of his achievements, as compared with the achievements of others in his special line of business — there is no other way.”
– Mark Twain (Christian Science)

And he said: “Son, this world is rough
And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn’t be there to help ya along.
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you’d have to get tough or die
And it’s the name that helped to make you strong.”

He said: “Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn’t blame you if you do.
But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
Cause I’m the son-of-a-bitch that named you “Sue.'”
A Boy Named Sue- Johnny Cash

Earlier this week another driver gave me the finger or maybe it was intended for some other driver. I am not really sure. What I do know is that my son saw it and told me that someone called me a bad word. I asked him what he was talking about and he told me that some man in a truck stuck his middle finger at me.

So I asked him if he knew what that meant and he said that it meant the other guy was saying ” fuck you dad.” I was about to ask him how he knew what the finger was and then I remembered that I had told him about. I wrote about it last year, but I don’t remember where.

I told him that he was correct and then he asked me why I didn’t yell back at him. I told him that I don’t respond to every name or gesture and that since I hadn’t seen it I wasn’t sure if it really was directed at me.

He wanted to know why I would ignore that and we talked about what is worth spending time on and what isn’t. I didn’t tell him that sometimes ignoring someone is far more powerful than anything you can say. Silence is powerful, but that is a different post.

And like so many of our conversations this one zigged and zagged into a variety of related topics and wound up in a slightly different place that I can only describe as how to judge other people. Yep, I talked about judging other people.

Don’t give me that nonsense about how only G-d can judge others because it is not real. We all judge other people. Right, wrong or indifferent we look at others and make decisions about who and what we think they are.

My job as a parent is to help provide some guidance and direction. It is my responsibility to look at the challenges that the kids face and if possible try to help them make the right choices. The hard part is that some of these challenges aren’t simple yes or no, right or wrong situations. Some of them are more complex and require a more sophisticated approach.

And frankly judging people is a critical skill. They will spend their entire lives interacting with people. Friends, family, employers, colleagues etc. They have to have some tools that they can use to help determine whether the people they encounter are good or bad. They need to have some sense of how to evaluate the measure of a politician and a potential friend.

Not to mention that no matter how evolved society may become there will still be comments and assumptions made about people that are based upon their looks, religion, politics and affiliations in general.

I don’t have one foolproof system. I can’t say that I have found any magical way of helping to make these choices. All I have is the mantra, “judge people based upon their actions.” Look at what they do and how. Are they kind or cruel? Do they act the same way all the time or does their behavior change based upon the situation.

While they are young there is more control and greater opportunity help provide the foundation for making good choices. There are children that I have tried to help steer them away from. I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t say that these kids are necessarily bad but I can say that I see trouble down the road.

I worry when the kids run the house. I have serious concerns about parents who are incapable of discipline and I expect that in a few years they will be very sorry about the choices they have made. I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t say for certain that bad things will happen but it is not hard to predict.

It is a rough road at times but when I signed up I agreed to ride the roller coaster the whole way through. With any luck we’ll get through it without too many nicks, scrapes and bruises.

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