How many times have we seen people criticizing somebody else’s child for some wrongdoing but condoning the same behavior in their own child? I think we have, all of us, been guilty of this at some time or the other. We find excuses for the doings of “our people” – our children, our siblings, our friends – in fact for all those that we love and care for. But for “other people” we are less tolerant so we find faults in their behavior.

When our child scribbles on the walls of our house, we say arre! See, our child is learning to write at an early age or “we know he/she will grow up to be a great artist. But when our neighbour’s child does exactly the same thing, we become critical – that child is so badly behaved, the parents don’t stop him / her from spoiling the wall.

When our child falls and gets a minor graze we get frantic and rush around trying to find medicine and bandages or even go to the doctor. When a colleague’s child is running very high temperature for a few days, we shake our heads and say, it’s only a fever, why are the parents panicking so much, give a paracetamol and the fever will subside.

Completely different in the two cases

All these are examples of double standards – we have one set of rules for our children and another set for other peoples’ children. Our yardstick of measurement is completely different in the two cases. As a result we tend to get harsh with other children and over-protective and over-indulgent with our own. It is an extremely unfair way of judging anybody. What is acceptable behavior from one person becomes totally unacceptable from another, under identical circumstances.

As I said before, we are lenient and soft with our own children because we are emotional where they are concerned. That is why we excuse them when they are in the wrong. With other children, there is less or no emotional connect so we become critical and judgmental.

No regret over our opinions or actions

What is particularly sad is that not only do we judge others’ children too harshly, we also do not feel any guilt about it. This is because we have convinced ourselves, subconsciously that we are right in what we are doing – so there is no regret over our opinions or actions. In other words, we don’t just lie to ourselves by developing double standards but we also believe in the lie so deeply that we don’t feel guilty.

People develop double standards also when they feel they have to justify their actions. So when we are unnecessarily disparaging of the behavior of other children, we convince ourselves that those children deserve to be thought of badly, that they are ill-behaved and we are justified in thinking poorly of them.

We come across as mean-minded and harsh

None of this is good either for us or for our children. We come across as mean-minded and harsh and unfair and our children learn from us and replicate our behavior – so they also grow up to be judgmental and unfair to “other people”. We need to step back a bit and analyze our own behavior and actions and if we see signs of double standards in ourselves we need to correct it at the earliest.