I normally pride myself in being able to see good in people and not being so quick to judge or label. I understand what it is like not to be accepted because of being a little different, or to be labelled due to stereotypes. I find it easier than most to forgive and not to define anyone by one aspect of themselves. A pet hate of mine is the stereotype as to what it is like to be a young mother or a single mother (well, because I am one and I know exactly what my life is about and I dislike that anyone would think it isnt a good life).
I watched a young mother get onto the bus with her son last week and I noticed that I immediately assumed that she was single and bringing up her son alone. I also immediately assumed that she was unemployed and lived in some type of council house or flat. Her son had a slightly grubby face and I assumed that he was always looking like that, perhaps because she couldnt be bothered keeping him clean, and that she was living in poverty. Now some of these things may have been true, but I was still taken aback by how easy it was to label this girl as a good-for-nothing, when I myself am in a similar situation.
I was also on the train yesterday, at a time which I usually try to avoid, when the kids have just come out of school and are full of energy and all trying to get home at once. A group of teenage boys decided it would be amusing to throw grapes at one another, much to the annoyance of the remaining passengers. No-one said anything as the grapes went flying past, but then one hit me, and I was so annoyed that I shouted “Do you mind? How do you not see that thats isn’t acceptable behaviour?” And I just managed to stop myself before saying something about not being brought up properly by their mothers. As soon as the thought entered my head, I was ashamed of myself. After all, its not going to be long before that is my son being disruptive towards the general public, and I know that I will have little control over some of his behaviour when I am not around. I was so surprised at how quick I was to pin the blame on his parents.
So maybe I will not think so harshly now of the people who assume that because I had my son young, that I dont have or dont want a bright future, or that I am a bad parent. After all, if thoughts of this judgemental nature can pop into my head, then what hope do I have that an outsider with no insight wouldnt think the same or worse?