Overcoming Judgement in South Asian Families

Judgey south Asian family

From Judgement to Oneness

By Roma Khetarpal

Roma Khetarpal

Parenting Contributor, Roma Khetarpal

I’m not sure if this just a South Asian thing, but it’s definitely worth talking about. I was at an 80th birthday party where three generations were present. At the beginning, I sat down for a while with my mother-in-law and her friends. They happened to be talking about the honoree’s new granddaughter-in-law, Mita.

As Mita toasted her grand-mother-in-law, I overheard one of the women at the table say, “Well, this one knows how to trap a good guy. He’s handsome, has a good family, is intelligent and rich.” I curled my lips but just nodded my head as my inner voice screamed, “Really, ladies, what old-fashioned thinking! So not nice.”

A few minutes later lunch was served, and I went back to my table of 50-somethings where my husband and friends were sitting. Mita stopped at our table to thank us all for coming to the party. But as soon as she walked away, one of my tablemates said, “Well, she sure knows how to pick ‘em. She landed a good one. He was the most eligible boy in our community, and she snatched him! I really don’t know what he saw in her though.” She giggled with the woman next to her.in-law relationships, masalamommas

After the cake was served, I went to say hello to my son and daughter and their friends, all in their mid-20s to early 30s, who were having some lively conversations. As I strolled among them, I talked, listened, and learned. In 30 minutes, I heard from these millennials about technology, science, and politics. So refreshing I thought to myself!

Why can’t we all discuss topics like these? I wish I could drag some older folks into this corner and shake them up by saying, “Here’s a world of topics we can socialize over instead of making innocent Mita the target of negative comments. I had found out that the girl, who moved from Canada, had hosted the party as a way of getting to know the community that her husband had grown up in.

The next group of youngsters was discussing online dating. My own kids had told me about this new world. In fact, recently, to answer some of my questions, my daughter made me listen to Aziz Ansari’s new audiobook, Modern Romance.

south asian family

“Well, that’s how Mita met Shaan,” said one young woman.

“Are you kidding?” asked another, adding, “Do you know what site they met on, ‘cause she totally scored! Some women just know how to throw themselves at guys. I’m not like that at all.”

“Do you know Mita personally?” I asked.

“Well kinda,” she said, walking away.

I later pulled my daughter aside and asked if that girl knew Mita, and my daughter said, “No, Mom. We’re all meeting Mita for the first time today. You know they got married in Europe and very few of us made it to the wedding.”

I was cringing by then. I could see that the older generations were just judgmental and bored, passing negative comments about someone they didn’t even know in their home, at their family party. What was more disappointing was that every generation, when the negative gossip match was lit, was quick to add fuel to the fire.

The truth is that when we criticize and make judgments about anyone—let alone people we don’t know—we carry the essence of negative emotions within us, and then we plant them in the other person or people we are talking to. This feeling travels fast, multiplying as it returns to the person who started it. It’s self-sabotaging. As Charley Reese, the American journalist says, “If malice or envy are tangible and had a shape, it would be the shape of a boomerang.” Yes, it comes right back at us. So the next time you are witness to this, either walk away or say something politely, without judgment.

And parents, remember that these habits are contagious. Your kids will catch on fast.

We all know that our kids will follow our lead and jump two steps ahead. They are going to imitate what we do and not what we tell them to do. So when you have an urge to start or join a judgment party, tread wisely, and remind yourself of these two simple universal laws:

  1. We are one.
  2. What we give out is what we get back tenfold.

So choose love and oneness before all else. As for your kids, good habits that start young become an intrinsic part of the fabric of who we are. Weave your family together with the threads of love and oneness instead of judgment and separation. This is how we can raise good human beings who contribute positively to the world. Isn’t that what we all want for our kids?


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