That Walking A Mile Phrase

I used to look at parents and their screaming kids with disdain. This is a public place after all! Why can’t that person control their child? Why is that kid so loud? Why is that mother talking to her child that way? I would wonder how I could be so unlucky that these people were disturbing my peace. If the kid can’t behave, why even take him out in public?

Then I had my own child. He runs all over the place. If you are not careful, he will run out into traffic. I am just trying to keep him alive for the next few years. I certainly cannot always control him and I don’t always talk to him in the best tone of voice.

Maybe there’s something wrong with me!

That question is certainly not an easy one to answer for a number of reasons. There could be a lot wrong with me.

But the point of this post is that I have learned a valuable lesson over the past two years. It is the age old adage to not judge a person before walking a mile in their shoes.

I have espoused that idiom countless times when representing criminal defendants (and sometimes civil defendants). But I guess I never really practiced what I’ve preached. I have always been so judgmental of others. I guess it’s easy to speak from my soapbox but not so easy to live up to those values in real life.

I now understand that kids are sometimes uncontrollable. Most of the time, it is no reflection on the parent. People don’t always have good days. And the only way for children to learn how to behave in public is to bring them there and use each moment as an experience. Most restaurants are not Le Bernardin! It’s OK if a kid at the next table is crying while you try to eat your Zuppa Toscana (Tuscan Soup) at the Olive Garden.

Maybe, instead of judging, you can assist in the betterment of society by not judging the parent. Perhaps you can hold the door for that struggling mother. Maybe you can send a smile across the room to the crazed child. Maybe you can pick up the bottle that the kid just threw to the floor.

You never know what’s going on in a stranger’s life. Having empathy for what others are experiencing can make a world of difference for everyone. This is a lesson I hope to apply to other areas of my life as well. Then again, maybe I won’t. I don’t have a good track record. It’s sometimes difficult to have empathy until you’ve walked that mile.

Originally published at

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