It’s easy to make a snap judgment about others when a moment is taken out of context. Sometimes, however, it’s best to remember that there’s often more to the story than what we can see right then.
Megan Orr Burnside took to Facebook recently to share an observation about judging other parents, and her wise words are a perfect reminder that many of us should take to heart. In her now-viral post, Megan told a story of how she once witnessed a frazzled mother yelling and physically restraining her son in a parking lot. Fearing that the boy was being abused, Megan called the cops to report the apparent child abuse. Later, she would come to regret that phone call; in fact, it would change her entire mindset about what it means to be a good person.
“I was in Tennessee with my husband at a training event. We were at a gas station, when we saw a woman with a boy of about 10 years old, struggling to get him in the car. He was screaming, and she was so angry and frustrated. We watched her get him in the car; and there was a lot of physical fighting in the car. It looked like she was hitting him as well, so we called the police. They came and we left.”
After Megan made that call, the police called her back to inform her that they knew the mother she’d seen. The woman had an autistic son who was often violent, and it took all she had to keep him safe from himself and to prevent him from harming others. Megan had an epiphany in that moment.
“I had the most overwhelming realization of my mistake. In my eagerness to protect the child, I neglected to offer help to the mother,” Megan said. “Instead I ‘turned her in’ to the authorities. We sat and watched her struggle and called her in. I have felt guilt even years later that I didn’t get out of my car and offer her some help.”
More recently, Megan found herself in another situation where it would have been all too easy to pass judgment on another struggling parent. But this time, she stepped forward and offered help. Her small act of grace brought tears to that young mother’s eyes.
“The mother was so frazzled and apologized,” Megan explained. “She told me she worked nights and she couldn’t even think in the day. I know there were other things going on, but in that moment I told her I understood what it’s like to be overwhelmed. I told her she was a good mom. I told her everything was going to be okay. She cried, guys. She CRIED as everyone else watched her struggle with her burden. Years earlier I would have been holding my cell phone ready, watching to see if she did anything that I should report.”
Megan’s realization is something many parents could stand to recognize. Parenting is hard, and people are only human. Instead of jumping to the conclusion that a child is being mistreated, perhaps stepping forward and offering to help would be a better option for all involved.
Megan summed up her message perfectly, stating, “I know there’s a place for the authorities to step in, but I feel like we have become a culture who watches for faults, instead of opportunities to help. We have become more separated and condemning, instead of compassionate, loving and serving. If we helped more, we would have to call the authorities less.”
Read Megan’s whole story below, and don’t forget to share to spread this message of love and acceptance far and wide!