DISCLAIMER: It’s not that I’ve been the victim of parent shaming, per se. It’s more that I’ve just had enough of parents being ugly to each other.
Before we even get started, why yes – yes I do kiss my kids with this mouth.
If you’re feeling a bit defensive after reading this title, it may be because you often find yourself dispensing what you perceive as a cleansing stream of parental wisdom to those you think in desperate need of it. You know who I’m talking about. We sad, incompetent bastards that have chosen for some ungodly reason to raise our children in a manner that conflicts with your own unquestionably perfect approach. The approach that anyone with any kind of sense would choose to use with their own children. The approach guaranteed to produce only the most perfect, loving, responsible, perfectly well-adjusted, high-achieving wunderkind one could ever hope to come across. Kids just like your own perfect babies.
You have an answer for everything, especially those questions and conundrums that NO ONE has asked for your input on. Doesn’t matter if it’s nutrition, academics, healthcare, behavior, or macrame. You’ve got all the answers, and the rest of us should just feel privileged that you deign to step in when you see that we are so obviously, completely screwing the pooch raising our own children.
Funny part is, you may not even HAVE kids. If you do and still feel the need to make another mom or dad’s job harder, that’s even worse.
So in the words of a father for whom I haven nothing but the utmost respect, “kiss my ass, kiss his ass, kiss your ass, Happy Hanukkah”.
Really? Bringing up another human being isn’t hard enough? You need to butt in where you’re not wanted, spewing your judgmental platitudes and unsolicited advice? Do us all a favor. Don’t do us any favors.
Here’s a small bit of wisdom for you: every family is different. Every child is different. Just because you seem to have everything perfectly worked out with your own kids (which I highly doubt), doesn’t mean that what works with them is going to work with anybody else’s. Yes, there are some universal truths – feed them, water them, clean them, don’t let them run with scissors, beware silence. We’ve got that. Everything else is up for discussion, though.
I know why you do it. I know why you revel in any opportunity to “school” another parent you come across. It’s because you relish any chance to convince yourself that you really and truly have it all figured out. That your poo don’t stink. That your kids are going to turn out just fine. Here’s the thing – they might. Your kids may very well go on to be the superstars you’re completely convinced they will be. Good for you. Guess what, though?
So might ours.
I know this will blow your mind, but there actually is more than one way to parent. I’ve been privileged to know and learn from a very diverse group of parenting buddies. Some breast fed. Some bottle fed. Some homeschool. Some public school. Some are vegan. Some are carnivores. Some limit screen time. Some worship the almighty I-pad for the half-hour to 45 minutes of distraction it provides. Some believe a swat on the ass is sufficient to get the kid’s attention so that their bad behavior can be corrected. Some see that as a punishment that only makes things worse. Some are religious. Some are pagan. Some are rolling in the money. Some are living on love. Some are breezing by. Some face challenges with their kids you couldn’t possibly fathom, even if you did choose to get down off your high horse.
The point is that there are as many approaches to parenting as there are kids out there. That’s a lot. None of them are intrinsically superior to the other. Parenting is the ultimate learn on the job experience. Everyone’s experience is different, which means the lessons they learn are different. Accept that.
Now, I’m not talking about turning a blind eye to instances of outright abuse. Situations where a child is living in complete filth, suffering from malnourishment, not being provided proper medical treatment, or receiving vicious beatings just for acting out like kids so often do. Situations like that, where the child is in very real and imminent danger, need to be acted upon. Big difference between all of that and calling into question one’s love for their children because he or she allows them to consume gluten.
There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your kid’s accomplishments. There’s not even anything wrong with taking pride in what you do for them. Flaunting it and trying to lord it over the rest of us, though – that’s a problem.
So next time you see a kid having a fit at the store, or notice that a kid’s wearing the same play clothes they wore yesterday, or that God forbid someone is letting their five year old have a Coke and a smile, do us all a favor. Fight your instincts. Feel free to correct your kids all day long. That’s your job. Resist the urge to correct other adults who you know nothing about, who are most likely just trying to do the best they can.
Do your fellow parents a solid and give them the benefit of the doubt. If you MUST intercede or comment, how about with these
- “Wow, she’s really got her hands full. I feel her pain.”
- “Huh. That’s one way to do it. Not my idea, but to each their own.”
- “Sometimes my kid can be a real ass-hat, too. Can I show my solidarity by purchasing you the liquor bottle of your choice?”
- “He really screwed that one up. Been there, done that. He’ll bounce back.”
Which leads us to the response that is most helpful, the line that separates the God-Sent Angel from the Parent Shaming Guttersnipe from Hell:
- “You’re looking a little overwhelmed. Been there myself. Is there anything I can do to help?”
Doesn’t matter if they take you up on the offer or not. You paid them the respect due another parent and just like that, have become the life-line they so desperately need.
Bare minimum, if you’re not comfortable with any of those options, you can just stay silent and get on with your own life. It is actually possible NOT to comment on something, which I know is virtually impossible in this day and age. Still, if you can’t even do that, you’ve told me everything I need to know about you.
You’re a douche-nozzle, and no amount of straight “A” report cards, meticulously organized PTA bake sales, Little League trophies, or “Parent of the Year” awards will ever change that.
I’m going to go take some Tylenol, now.