Please forgive me dear reader for this will be somewhat of a rant!! I have zero tolerance for strangers parenting advice. Why is it that people who have never met you or your children feel like it is their place to provide advice, offer comment or indeed pass judgement on the way I parent or my children?
WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?
It baffles me, but as I started to have a moan about this yesterday on instagram I started to receive lots of DMs saying that others feel the same way. So who are these random strangers, for whom I have zero tolerance? I find mostly they are elder women who have clearly forgotten what it is like to have small children and have zero tolerance for any noise. I have four kids – this is the definition of noise. Even when they are all just happily talking and laughing I am aware that they are loud and so I don’t take them to fancy places, but if I want to buy them lunch in the local cafe I should be able to without an old woman commenting very loudly that ‘if I couldn’t control them I shouldn’t have had them’.
Now don’t think, at this point, that I am a mum who thinks that their little darlings can do no wrong. That could not be farther from the truth. My kids can be extremely challenging and they drive me up the wall. I don’t ignore their behaviour though and I try very hard to ensure that they are polite and know how to behave in public. Lets face it thought children do sometimes forget themselves and behave badly. In this instance they were genuinely just chattering and laughing. They were being loud and I was telling them to quieten down, but my efforts were not good enough for her. That was merely one incident amongst a host of strangers telling me things like: ‘you should just ignore that behaviour’ ‘ you shouldn’t just ignore that behaviour’. I was even once called a slut by an old lady because I bent over to help my then 2 year old do a wee into a drain and my pants accidentally show. She said I was disgusting and should be ashamed of myself for letting him wee there….. It wasn’t ideal, but what was I supposed to do – just allow him to wet himself when he was crying that he needed a wee. What is that about? I spend alot of time explaining to the children that we don’t call people names and don’t shout or be rude to others only to have another adult do just that to me. What kind of example and message does this send to children?
I have also found that there are other random stranger parents who also feel like it is ok to tell you what to do when they don’t know you. They are the ones that I have the least love for and make my blood boil! This must of course be because their children are entirely perfect and only request kale for snacks, only ever drink water and spend their weekends working through maths problems voluntarily…. Maybe this is the case, but I often strongly suspect that those who make the most noise about their perfection and try to make other mums feel less than are in fact not so perfect themselves. Maybe it is an insecurity thing, but whatever it is I have zero tolerance for it and know exactly where they can stick their kale….
Don’t these random stranger realise that what they say may hurt people? It can be really hard being a parent and the last thing you need when you child is being a little shit and you are doing the best you can when you feel embarrassed and stressed is a stranger commenting on their behaviour. Now I am not talking about times where perhaps my child did something that I didn’t see and another parent told me. That is embarrassing, but I have 4 kids and so I can’t always see everything and I appreciate knowing if someone is doing something stupid that I haven’t noticed. I am talking about the judgy comments the ones that say I could do this better than you…. You know the ones that make a bad parenting day worse and make you just want to go home….
I even feel this way about positive comments as although it is nice to be told you are doing a good job it just seems so random when a stranger tells me that they children are so polite as I just want to scream ‘ not they are not!! I have just spent two hours trying to get them to put on their shoes’ . My kids know how to turn on the charm when they feel it is necessary so the worst face is saved just for me. They can be polite, they are loving, they are funny and they do look like little angels and by the way yes random stranger I do have my hands full! They can also be rude, get cross and be unpleasant to be around and this is the reality I am sure for most parents unless you are very very lucky. The thing is if you are a stranger you only see a second snapshot so commenting is pointless because you don’t know what came before or what will come after.
It is like believing what you see on instagram. Who takes a picture of their child snatching a toy from another child or walking up the slide when all other children are waiting to come down? No one really. We take pictures of the good times because we want to remember and capture that positive feeling. So random strangers this is why I have zero tolerance for your comments, but don’t worry I will just smile and nod unless you are spiteful like cafe woman who got a large piece of my mind!
BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER
I am so far from a perfect parent and I get it wrong all the time, but I really do try. I have tolerance for other people’s children, If a child pushes one of mine I don’t tell the parents that they should do something about it. I understand that this is something that toddlers sometimes do and I am sure the parent will deal with it. If they don’t we simply move over in the soft play or playground. I of course see people parenting their children and sometimes have judgy thoughts myself. I am only human after all and we all judge whether we mean to or not, but I have the common courtesy to keep my judgy comments to myself. Perhaps I am just being very English about the whole thing and others would also feel it is ok to pass comment on other people’s parenting ability or lack thereof…. All I am saying is that we should think about the impact of our words and remember before we judge that we don’t know what went before. What do you think?