One of the most destructive communication patterns is to judge or criticize others. A judgmental/critical person often uses shame to hurt people.
Criticism blames others for their emotions or problems. Criticism is harsh, condemning, and self-righteous.
John Gottman explains criticism, Criticizing your partner is different from offering a critique or voicing a complaint! The latter two are about specific issues, whereas the former is a personal attack: it is an attack on your partner at the core. In effect, you are dismantling his or her whole being when you criticize.
Complaint: “I was scared when you were running late and didn’t call me. I thought we had agreed that we would do that for each other.”
Criticism: “You never think about how your behavior is affecting other people. I don’t believe you are that forgetful, you’re just selfish! You never think of others! You never think of me!”
When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.
If you judge people, you have no time to love them. Mother Teresa
The judgmental/critical person establishes a criteria in their own behavior, which also applies to how others should behave. They judge everyone by their own standards of worth.
Most often, this type of person grew up in a home with judgmental, critical, or negative parents. It becomes a way of thinking. They have often been shamed and see that as a normal way of speaking. Then they use the shaming and criticism to attack or control others. But you don’t have to repeat that pattern! [see below]
Grace lives above the demands of human opinion and breaks free from legalistic regulations. Grace is the demonstration of Jesus’ words: “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” Chuck Swindoll
In Christ, we can be free from living according to others opinion, standards, or even their attacks. The total forgiveness and acceptance by God gives us the freedom to follow Him without the pressure of trying to measure up to a set of rules or standards.
I now have the freedom to let other people follow Him without judging their behavior. I know that their correction or rebuke is God’s job, not mine.
My job is not to try to change another person or decide how they should behave.
With our children, I can instruct them on matters of the heart. I do correct, teach, and train them, but I cannot make them obey or make them learn. If they do not obey or learn, I may need to change my methods. I seek God and the Holy Spirit shows me the way. But their obedience is an issue between the child and God. I do not have to carry the guilt of their disobedience.
RECOMMENDED READINGFamilies Where Grace is in Place and Tired of Trying to Measure Up by Jeff VanVonderen
Be Transformed by Scope Ministries
What’s so Amazing about Grace? by Philip Yancey
Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine by Max Lucado
Also, see our blog post, Grace in Marriage.