I caught myself midsentence: “ I think if she could just see that all she has to do is . . . “

Oh honey, just be quiet. Shut up, shut up, shut up.

Despite my best intentions, I was doing it again. Chatting about how someone else should be running their life. Even with no malicious intent, this is a bad way to end good conversation.

And I, of all people, know this. I’ve heard, directly and inadvertently, more people weigh in on my life over the past few years than I care to count.

It seems a neighbor’s husband thinks I should have stuck it out in my marriage. Never mind that he did not know the first thing about what caused its demise, nor about the resulting fallout—but he was very confident about the “wrongness” of it all. And I’ve felt his judgment ever since.

Since I will never—and I can confidently say never—share with him the details of that situation, suffice it to say that he’ll remain an uneducated idiot from here to eternity. Sitting smugly, passing judgment. How very attractive of him. I smile politely at cocktail parties and ignore him other than that. Karma is a bitch, buddy.

It’s not just divorce that people chime in on (although there are plenty of married people who write regularly about divorce—usually extremely religious married people—which always stymies me. It’s like a toddler writing about puberty. No clue.).

I’ve been offered snippy parenting advice from teachers, cleaning people (oh, yes—unbelievable) and degreed experts who have never raised children.

Free speech lets you say whatever you want—to me or to others about my situation.

But it does not free you from the consequences of what’s said.

And therein lies the rub. The little something we should all think about before we open our Big Traps.

iStock_000035056462SmallIf you have not been through a divorce, you are unqualified to speak intelligently about it. You are untested.

If you have not raised children who have no interest in your “My Three Sons” Rockwellian dream, you are unqualified to discuss people who have real kids presenting them with real issues. You are untested.

And the bit that amazes me? The untested don’t seem to realize that they are. Rather than seeing themselves as lucky, they see themselves as divinely appointed. Outfitted with relationship skills beyond compare. With parenting skills that far surpass those of parents whose children do not fall into lockstep at the mere whisper of a command.

Do they not see that the only reason for their superiority is they’ve not been placed in the situation they’re judging?  No. They do not. They feel they are superior simply because that situation has not occurred in their lives—and that, of course, is because of their supreme wisdom. Their enviable talents and skills.

Excuse me while I stifle a guffaw.

Are you f*%&ing kidding me?

The Facebook friend who smugly stated on her page that if she and husband were faced with children who behaved a certain way, they would simply apply consequences and that it was not rocket science. I could almost see her clapping her hands in Mary Poppins fashion, saying “Spit spot.” And the sad part is—she had a friend who was asking for real advice. Had a real situation. Instead of helping, she offered self-righteous prattle. Which helped no one. And made me want to throw up.

I could go on and on but I won’t. You’ve all had similar situations in your own life, I’m sure.

If life has not chosen you as up to the challenge of trial by fire, you are untested. No matter in what area—marriage, parenting, career, you name it.

So shut up already. Untested means unqualified. To judge. To proselytize. To prattle.

Go find a challenge. And you’ll be amazed at how fast your mouth will close—as you realize what a complete ass you’ve been.

Something which I, of course, will not comment upon.

You’re welcome.





15 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks – I loved this. I am right there, right now. It seems that everyone I run into seems to be interested in saying something, anything about something, anything about me. 🙂 I simply can’t fight each battle and I won’t – sometimes I smile, even when I want to punch them out. It’s good for my blood pressures.

  2. Roy McCarthy says:

    Good rant 🙂 There’s a great saying ‘Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes’. I guess it’s often a fine line between expressing what you believe to be true and actually stating it as firm advice to others. The former is fine, as long as you stand ready to be corrected. The latter is best avoided.

    1. candidkay says:

      I agree, Roy. And I might add that there is no need to express what you believe to be true unless asked:). At least when it applies to someone else’s life. We all seem to think we’re Dr. Phil some days . . .

  3. Sue Gordon says:

    Learning life isn’t so black and white and shades of gray in various degrees can be challenging to say the least. The tested has nothing to do with race, religion, education or money. When a person is brought to their knees and realize this hopefully they experience the oneness with others and it starts to break down existing prejudice.
    Wonderful piece.

  4. erkkig says:

    I can very much relate, both with the being judged and judging part. It’s humbling when you’ve pointed the finger and then find yourself at the receiving end of a pointing finger. I’m very often reminded now that “it takes one to know one”. I’ve found that about 9 times out of 10 when I criticize somebody I’m really just criticizing an insecurity that I have and saw in them. I’m speaking the accusatory thoughts that I tell myself to somebody else. Spreading the shame!

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah yes. And in my case, my karma is almost instant. I am sure to find myself in a situation where I am meant to find empathy for another I’ve judged–usually within the day!

  5. markbialczak says:

    Great insight, Kay. It’s so easy to think you know it all until faced with that exact situation for the first time in your life and discovering that you don’t know the first thing about it. Better to shut yer trap.

  6. Cdadik says:

    Love this blog. I think we all catch ourselves saying things like this. It’s shallow when people make judgements – but what comes around, goes around. And that’s how they learn. Loved the “finding myself at the bottom” story!

  7. lmarieallen says:

    This reminds me of my brother, who sat one evening a long time ago at a restaurant with me, my sister, and her rambunctious toddlers. Of course, the kids were wired and tired and generally creating havoc. He turned to his now wife, loudly proclaiming that his future kids would “never behave like that in a public place”. It puts a devilish grin on my face to say that he was paid back in spades:)

  8. “My Three Sons” Rockwellian dream…hahahaha. Love it. Great post. I catch myself all the time too.

  9. Well said. Enough with the judgement. I was seriously shocked at the responses I received when I told people my husband and I were separated. My favorite, “I don’t believe in divorce.” I heard that over and over. What is wrong with people? I mean we’re all human and I’ve certainly stuck my foot in my mouth before, but we could all work harder at approaching people from a place of compassion rather than judgement. Really good post.

  10. When I found myself divorced, I felt suddenly completely overwhelmed with compassion for everyone else that has gone through a divorce. Same when my mother died. Divorce. Grief. Parenting. How can these experiences be truly understood until we’ve been there and journeyed through them….

    1. candidkay says:

      I so agree, Karen! Here’s someone who seems to “get it”: http://erkkisblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/finding-myself-at-the-bottom/ I think you’re saying the same thing.

      1. yes! love it! 🙂

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