Best Parenting Advice? They may be Wrong!
When it comes to being a parent, everyone has an opinion. “You’re not doing this right”, “I wouldn’t do it like that”, “I can’t believe you allow that”… and it doesn’t matter who it is – your mum, your inlaws, your sister, the old lady down the end of the street who never even said hello to you before your child stole a flower from her prized garden, or your best friend who has sworn off children forever.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on your parenting (to your face or behind your back). And while you might be more tempted to pay attention to people who have actually HAD kids, it’s those who have never had children giving you advice that really erks your boat.
No matter who they are, the fact is they cannot possibly comprehend what it takes to deal with YOUR children.
Non-parents aren’t professionals
Before I was a parent, (like every single one of you out there reading this) I had thoughts about what I would and wouldn’t do as a parent, to/with my kids. As non-parents, we think they know how it is going to be and we know exactly what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it… but they have no idea. And even if they have “been working in childcare for 50 years”, that doesn’t make them a parent. There’s a big difference between 9-5 and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The truth about parenting is that we all have to learn the hard way. Because those beautiful little spawns of Satan balls of joy are all completely different (and not just from each other – but quite often a completely different spawn of Satan ball of joy to the one who wanted cuddles 3 minutes ago). As parents we have to learn everything about them through trial and error. What this means of course, is that we discover their good and bad traits, by doing things that we (pre-parenthood) promised ourselves we would never do.
So, as a parent when someone you know (or even worse – someone you don’t) tries to tell you how they would treat your child in a particular scenario, knowing full well that they have never spent more than 5 seconds with your spawn of Satan child, let alone their own, it’s a safe bet you will probably tell them (either patronisingly or shotgun aggressively) to BACK OFF!!
You see, parents who feel like they need to give advice to other parents know that every kid is different, so they give broad scale ‘maybe’ advice like “we tried this with our little demon #1, but it never worked once, but it worked really well with demon #3 – who knows, it could work…or not work… for your little demons too”. And that is acceptable parenting advice. Non-parents who give advice however, maybe based around the fact that they had a pet dog once.
So here are some of my favourite bits of advice from non-parents given to me about my children. Feel free to comment your favourites too… we all love a good vent or a belly laugh sometimes.
“If you don’t give them options, they probably wouldn’t be such picky eaters…”
Of course!!! Why didn’t I think of that?
This is great logic from someone who never sat down for a meal with a 4 year old. When a 4 year old stares at a plate of vegetables, what they actually see is a dish covered in insects falling into an abyss filled with their worst nightmares… and you want them to eat it?? The look a 4 year old can give you when they have just been forced to eat a spoon full of cold mashed potato that has a pea attached to it is the visual example of the feeling you got the first time they threw up on your face with your mouth open. Their watering eyes, the look of fear that they are going to die a hundred deaths with every mouthful, the whining and the gagging… all because they wanted a sausage roll and ice cream sandwich, and you said no!
Thank you for that fine logic, friend.
My next favourite came onto a friend’s Facebook; from a non-parental Facebook “friend” in response to a picture of two unbearably happy children eating a cheese burger, chicken nuggets and chips from a well-known fast food restaurant.
“I would never let my kids eat that garbage.”
Non-parental Facebook “friend”, since 5am this morning these two had been screaming at my parental friend, yelling at the dog next door, kicking the screen door incessantly, fist fighting each other in the bath, dragging the cat around by the tail, mashing potato onto the dining room wall, and absolutely, and completely draining every bit of patience, life and effort that she had left in him. And 3 weeks prior she accidentally mentioned the big “M” word, and they remembered… because kids remember EVERYTHING… and decided that today was their day to make the big M happen. And this picture, is my parental friend giving in, just so she can get seven and a half minutes of silence. We’ve all done it. It might not have been the big M, but it might have been chocolate at 8am. Or it could have been ice cream for lunch. And until you’re a parent, never say never.
Shopping centres are the bane of existence
There are a million different scenarios I could point out here, but shopping is seriously the bane of any parents existence. Case Study: my brother was shopping for winter clothes when his spawn of Satan daughter decides she wants a new doll. It’s a doll she just spied from 14 aisles away, and of course, no one has any idea what doll she is referring to. He just sticks to the plan and heads for the clothes. And that’s when the tantrum starts… and not just any tantrum, this is “frothing at the mouth, head spinning around and around on her neck” kind of tantrum.
And right in the middle of this incredibly long and drawn out paroxysm, she lunges out of the double stroller over the top of her brother after somehow unbuckling the racing harness installed for her protection, and does the bolt. And of course she did not bolt straight towards wherever she was headed to, but started ducking and weaving underneath clothes racks, through the outdoor section, over the top of 8 feet tall shoe racks and suddenly disappeared into thin air.
Chasing commences, and right before he’s ready to call in store security, a very helpful (arrogantly prudish middle aged male voice) says
“Is this yours? Maybe you should take better care of your children, and not let them run around without supervision.”
From the look of this man’s face, he quickly realised that the horns rapidly growing from my brother’s forehead, combined with steam ejecting from his ears meant it was a really good time for him to walk away, and fast. As he sprinted for the exit, my brother screamed at him to show me his current parent of the year award, so he can shove it… you get the picture…
So if you are a non-parent reading this, and you often tell your friends how you would treat your kids (that you don’t have) or if you tell them “my friend who has kids does this…”
My advice to you is … walk away. While you can.