True Grit

Before I became the keeper of my own wee people, I harshly judged parents of small children. I’m not using hyperbole here with when I use the word harsh. I was HARSH!

I gave dirty looks to crying children in church, in restaurants and on airplanes. When I saw a child walking about with a pacifier, I silently chastised the mother. When I heard a parent threaten a consequence, count to 3 and then do absolutely nothing, it made me cringe. I always thought a monkey could parent better than most of the people I was critiquing.

Karma is a bitch.

Sometime between realizing that there were no less than 20 pacifiers in my house and the time my 2 year old daughter walked up to me at the pool and lifted up my swimsuit looking for a nip off the boob, I learned to shut my damn pie-hole.  The thing of it is, I still find myself thinking all sorts of critical and judicious things when it comes to the way other people choose to parent.

Is it ever O.K. to critique another person’s parenting style?

Now I’m not talking about the obvious stuff like abuse or neglect, I’m talking about having the stones to open your mouth and actually say something to somebody else about the way they choose to interact/discipline/feed/care for their children.

Recently, I was at a birthday party and this parent person, made a condescending remark to a young couple with regard to how they discipline their kids.  Now this person attempted to dress it up as a complement, but it was so clearly a jab that I was twitching with discomfort. The energy in the room became charged with tension and so as usual, I cut the cloud of “ick” with humor. I just had to rescue all of us from the unforgiving and awkward silence.

 Whether or not I agreed with this parent person that I shall refer to as, Stones, and I think you know why, the comment was completely inappropriate for a number of reasons. This was truly an example of the wrong time and place, but once again I ask the question; Is it ever O.K. to critique another person’s parenting style?

I can’t answer this question for you, but I can tell you how I deal with it when someone throws the metaphorical stones at me with regard to my parenting style.

 Recently, I was given some feedback on my own parenting at the right time AND the right place and as I said before, karma is a bitch. I’m still smarting from the stone thrown my way. The pain of the wound is a reminder that someone loved me and my kid enough to help us both and believe me, we needed it.

It’s certainly something to think about because we all want to be the best parents we can be for our children. If it takes a village to raise a kid and you are the resident village idiot, can you handle a nugget being tossed your way?

Whether it’s a pebble or a boulder, if you have the stones to throw at another parent, I suggest you try not to trigger an avalanche and prepare to get some grit flung back at ‘cha.

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  • I always stick to the "not your kid, not your business" policy. That is, unless a child's safety is hampered. I too was the eye rolling childless mean lady at restaurants...karma and I were (are) both bitches.

  • As usual Nic, you say(write) what all think! I am still that parent at times...and there are times I must bite my tongue. Which if you knew you would know that usually means till it bleeds. I am not a perfect parent and will NEVER claim such, but some shit is common sense.
    If your daughter is going around telling people she is pregnant(an 11 year old) you may think you need to have a talk with her and not say"oh kids are funny"
    But as far as the pacifier, food, breast feeding(I still get asked if I am still breast feeding my son...he is almost 8...and no I am not:) when to start school, what activities to put them in, what is bed time blah blah blah.....mind your own business and just talk about that parent behind their back...

  • It's only okay to give advice, but never okay to judge. Big Difference. A person's intention explains it all. People only see what they want to see, and if someone wants to see you as a bad parent, it doesn't matter what you do or how you do it, they will see it as bad. So judgment really has nothing to do with your parenting. It's about the other person's feelings about you, which 9 times out of 10 are influenced by their ego. Now people who want to give advice because they feel your pain, meaning advice for things you view as a problem as opposed to a half-assed negative opinion about what you think is working, now that's a different story. There are people who care about you and yours and want to help, sincerely, and sometimes all they can offer is advice, a shoulder to cry on, or a simple reinforcement that this too shall pass. Always look at their intentions, and always look at your own. Every kid is different, and so is every adult. There is NO right way to parent. Nobody has a perfect kid to know it all. There are pro's and con's to everything you do, and it is your right as a parent to decide which path to take without fear of other people's judgment, negative behaviors, and sometimes harassment. At least when people criticize, you know who not to listen to. Most of my parenting mistakes thus far has been attributed to my ignorantly following other people's advice. And even if you hop from one leg to the next to play this stupid game of Simon Says, all that will happen is it will take you steps back on parenting and the other person's opinion of you still won't change.

  • In reply to megforce1:

    BTW, don't get me wrong. I can judge easily when it comes to raising kids on the spectrum. I'm the meanest about it with my sister because while she does do things very opposite the way I do them, I'm still holding a lot of grudges and resentment, and because I'm the oldest, I expect to always be right, dammit. I'm feeling the karma today with my oldest on the spectrum who just dumped all the baby's formula in her bed and I had to call my sister to ask her to bring me more formula.... With everyone else though, I do metaphorically roll my eyes to myself when I see people who expect their kids to be like them and have no desire to accept their kid for who they are, autism and all. It's probably just because I have a fear I do something like that to my kids. All I'm saying is judgment is something we project, not an educated opinion about someone else no matter how hard we try to twist it like it is.

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    I was not only that childless bitch, I went so far as to intrude once on a very long bus ride. There was a mom at the back of the bus with 3 small children who were not behaving at all. I am not talking about usual unruly kids they were downright obnoxious. I had enough and finally got up enough nerve to go back there and say, "Would you like me to sit with your kids for a while? you look like you need some help" or something to that effect. Unfortunately, I don't think I was as polite as I would like to remember. The poor girl--yeah, she was probably all of 3 years younger than I at the time--was so embarrassed, but you know what, those kids were kind of freaked out after that and suddenly became really quiet for the rest of the ride. At one of the stops a girl asked me what I said to the mom because the kids were so calm afterward.

    Now, as a mom I realize that sometimes it truly does take a stranger to make your kids shut up and listen. I also became that mom who was horrified and apologized profusely when my child made even the slightest noise and now I sympathize with those poor parents whose kids scream all through a plane flight and thank the Good Lord that it is not my child.

  • My rule of thumb: Give advice only when asked and then I try to say "Well this is how I would do it, and what the hell do I know?...jack shit...but..."

  • I may not say it, but I'm thinking it. My eyeballs break from rolling so hard so maybe it *is* obvious. My thinking is if I can keep two teeny kids under decent control why is THAT kid punching people and not wearing shoes?

    Binkies, diapers, I don't give a crap about that. But seriously, your kid refused to wear clothes today and you went along with that? Hand to God, this is what happened in Target: I ran into my friend and her NAKED three-year-old. Not a stitch of clothing besides a dirty diaper. Is that even sane? Hell yes I judged.

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    I've been on both sides of this and I do believe that grace and humor will get you far.

    I've had the privilege of being considered a mommy mentor to one of my dearest friends who is now a missionary. She was so open to my frank comments about her not going back to work after her first sons birth. She was so exhausted and sad. She didn't need to work. All it meant was that it would take longer for her husband to complete seminary. She loved being at home with her first baby and living in the community they lived in reaching out to other families and learning how to be a mom. She loved that I asked her the hard questions and pressed her to consider the idea that she will never get that brief babyhood back. She has since gone on to have 3 more children and has always considered me her mentor. She has asked me tough questions too. My bottom line with being critical about anyone for any reason is that you have to EARN that right to gain an audience by showing them that you CARE enough to take that risk.

    I AM a big advocate of staying home with your kids if you are able. You just miss so much that you can't ever get back. I knew a woman who literally said to me that she couldn't stay with her two kids. They'd make her crazy. Her husband made mad cash and they lived in a fancy house. She made diddle. I was like: children aren't pets. Get a smaller house and let daddy stay home for a few years. Why have kids at all if you can't stand being with them?!? Maybe see a shrink? The dad made the wrong comment to me: oh! You get to stay home with your kids.... (pause before spontaneous castration) "why actually we go without a lot of luxuries that most people enjoy so that I can be at home. We decided that it was better for them to grow up in an unstructured environment until preschool so they could just be babies and enjoy being at home with mommy and I wouldn't miss a thing or have any regrets.

    Truth is, I really enjoyed my babies to the fullest. There's the wide eyed wonder of a first dandelion. Endless snuggles. When you have 2, the older one makes the baby laugh and that is just the best ever. Hours and hours of blowing bubbles. *sigh*

    I did meet a mom that had her kids in daycare. They were grown ups now and she was a grandmother. She told me straight out that she regretted her decision. And now she's going to love on all her grandbabies.

    I find that most people are drive by critiquers: They pause long enough to let you have it, humiliate you, feel better about themselves for "getting it off their chest" and then leave you scraping your dignity off the sidewalk. You can almost feel them cracking their knuckles as they walk away.

    Others veil it in compliments and insincere offers to help. I always respond with humor: oh my family recycles, we even compost: we just let everything rot in place.

    Sometimes humor can diffuse a dangerous situation. A child is getting chewed out at the store and a timely phrase can lift the parent's frustration and a smile to the child can give reassurance.

    I'm very opinionated about certain things and readily share my views from having suffered through many sleepless nights and having gone on to become a certified pharmacy technician and a current nursing student. I have graciously shared my wisdom with moms of all ages and listened to their stories. But there is nothing worse than a know-it-all new mom. Can't tell her a damn thing. And I say to all arrogant folk: let em learn the hard way! Wise folks know when to ask for help! ;)

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    Great post. Some of the comments on here are unbelievable. So judgmental. I think some Moms just don't know what it is like to have a child that has a very strong will. There are times that I cannot, in any way, get my son to do what I want. Whether it is wear shoes to school, clean his room, not wear the same pants for two weeks, stop screaming. There is nothing that will stop him. The best things I have found is holding him at times so he doesn't destroy our home, but with two other kids, I can'r hold him for over two hours (yes, he will scream for that long) SO, next time you see your friend at Target with their kid in only a diaper, think maybe she just needs a little compassion, you have no idea what her morning was like. ANd maybe she's just happy the kids at least left the diaper on cause she had to get some groceries. Maybe I am being judgmental as well.

  • melissa, i always expect the comments. somehow my skin has grown very thick as my following has grown. we all do the very best we can and sometimes the best still isn't going to work. never give up. ever. you know in your heart that what others think has no bearing on the love you have for your babes.

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