Other People’s Choices

Years ago I judged my neighbor for decisions I saw her making about her teenagers. It was a very light judgment that I only held in the back of my mind. She never knew about it. It never affected our friendship. I even supported her and aided her. Yet I thought to myself, “I won’t do that.”

This week I find myself making some very similar parenting decisions to the ones I saw her make. I finally understand the troubles which drove her to those decisions. All those years ago, I couldn’t see the troubles, just the decisions that resulted from them. Today I am surrounded by stresses and I have a child who is nearing an adulthood that he’s not yet ready for. Every day I make decisions and I am conscious of how those choices may look to people who aren’t mired in my context. Somewhere out there, someone is judging me. I’m not angry with them for not understanding.(As long as they don’t try to impose their imperfect comprehension on my actions.) I actually hope that they never understand this because having a depressed teenager is not something I wish on anyone.

My neighbor moved away years ago, only a year or two after my judgement of her. I have her number, but to call and apologize would be pointless. What I must do instead is train my thoughts to think more kindly when someone else makes a decision that I don’t understand. They’re probably driven to it by problems that I can’t see.