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Why is it OK for parents to judge us?


Why is it OK for parents to judge us and tell us that we’re having sex when they never ask, they just jump to conclusions?—Still a Virgin, 16, IL

Shayna Answers:

Dear Still a Virgin,

It’s not OK, and it’s definitely not fair to be judged by anyone, including parents. Romans 3:23 makes it clear that everyone has sin in their life, and Matthew 7:1, 2 says that none of us should judge others. When it comes to dealing with parents, though, the rules can be very different. After all, it’s our parents’ responsibility to give us guidance, to protect us from dangerous activities, and to provide restrictions when necessary. It’s possible that your parents may not mean to judge you, but in trying to guide you to good decisions they’re falsely assuming the worst.

The first thing you should do is think about the behaviors you’re exhibiting in front of your parents. The perception that people, even our parents, have about us isn’t based on just one thing. Usually it’s made up of a combination of observations that form someone’s impression of our character. When the apostle Paul tried explaining his behavior to the Philippians, he told them to consider what they had learned, received (or heard), and seen in him (Philippians 4:9).

Be honest in thinking about what you might be doing to raise questions about whether or not you’re having sex. Are you letting your grades slide but not your social life? Are you sneaking around with guys? Are you being defiant when your parents give you rules about friends? If you’re not having sex, and you don’t want to be judged as if you are, you have to demonstrate that in every area of your life.

However, just acting responsibly isn’t enough. You also need to talk to your parents. Last week we talked about the importance of parent-child communication. We said that you can’t have a healthy relationship without it. In your case, your parents might have incorrect assumptions about what you’re doing because of things they’re observing from other teens or what your friends are doing.

From your question it seems that you would prefer that your parents ask you questions rather than make assumptions. So make it a habit to voluntarily tell your parents about what you did during the day, where you’re going after school, and who you’ll be with. As you do this, they’ll start to understand you better, and they’ll feel more comfortable to ask you questions. You can also tell your parents directly, “You can ask me questions. I don’t want you to assume the worst.”

The catch in giving your parents an invitation to ask about your life is that you have to be willing to answer their questions patiently and honestly. That means you might have to excuse yourself when you’re out with friends to answer your cell phone when your parents call you, or come home earlier than you want to because your parents don’t want you doing certain activities. It might seem a little invasive, but James 5:16 and Matthew 18:15-19 remind us of the importance of maintaining open communication with each other—especially our parents.

Ultimately, if you open up to your parents, they’ll be less likely to judge you and think that you’re doing things that you aren’t doing.

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