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Not a Parent? Mind Your Own Business!

Why people who don’t have children should not offer up parenting advice.

A few weeks back I had a friend post on Facebook “My heart is hurting listening to (her child) cry. I am trying to be strong and not go in.” She was trying to get her child to self soothe himself to sleep. If you have read past of mine, you know my stand on children learning to put themselves to sleep. I am one of the biggest advocates of . I think it’s absolutely necessary for the health and well-being of all children. 

So I, of course, responded to her posting with my support that she could do it and would soon be enjoying sleep filled nights. As you can imagine, there were many posts of support… other mothers saying that they too had done it and we have all been there. Then there was the posting that stopped me in my tracks. “I don't support this.”  Umm, excuse me?

The name attached to this comment was a male… not a mother. I can tell you that it took everything in me not to respond to his comment. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions about whether or not this person had children so I clicked on his name to see if my anger was justified. It was. From what I could tell, this person did not have children. He later went on to post another unsupportive comment to try to guilt my friend into not letting her child cry. How about minding your own business? Novel idea isn’t it? You know the old adage if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all? Well, this person should have it tattooed on his head! Why would someone who has no idea what my friend is going through, think it was okay to try to make her feel bad?

I realize that people are always going to give unsolicited advice. That’s just how it goes. Everyone thinks they are experts on everything. Well I am here to tell you that if you aren’t a parent, you have NO IDEA what it is like! Put it this way. I’m not a mechanic. Do you want me to lift the hood of your car and start tinkering around? I think not. So why, if you don’t have children, would I ever take advice from you? I wouldn’t. Period. I also don’t care what your mother did with you 35+ years ago. Times have changed. We no longer put whiskey on babies’ gums to help with teething or smoke and drink while we are pregnant.

It is bad enough that as parents we are constantly judged by other parents. “You don’t feed your child all organic food? Gasp!” No, sorry I don’t. Do I care if you do? Not particularly. Will I support you if that is what you choose to do with your child? Yes I will. As long as what you choose to do with your child does not affect me and mine, then I couldn’t care less. If you choose not to stop your child from hitting mine because you want to be your child’s friend instead of disciplining them, then I have an issue. See how that works?

Moms will always be the first to give other moms advice. We feel as if we are in a secret society. Only moms get each other. If we know that something has worked with our children, we will be the first to tell another mom. Most of the time, it’s not to be judgmental or mean. It’s because we have been there and want you to know that you aren’t alone. You can take the advice with a grain of salt, or you may discover that it was some of the best advice you have ever received. But you will be more inclined to take it from someone who has been there done that, rather than someone who thinks that because they watch Super Nanny, they know everything there is to know about raising children.

If you don’t have children, please keep your parenting comments to yourself. It’s hard enough to be a parent but having to deal with outside interference from people who don’t know what we are going through, makes it that much harder.

Angela Jordan-Chetcuti June 09, 2011 at 04:31 PM
Well, Heidi, just as my article struck something in you to make you want to leave a comment about it, his comment struck something in me. I don't go around trying to make people feel bad about decisions that they make or critiquing them for something they are doing. I stand by the fact that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all, IMHO. That is what my article is about.
Heidi Beck June 09, 2011 at 08:08 PM
This is a public forum, so I presume you WANT comment or I wouldn't have said anything. ( I am trying to keep local journalism going by trying to be supportive of Patch by reading it and commenting.) I am struck by how people nowadays seem to get more worked up and defensive from comments by people they don't know than they used to. Sure, if it's people you care about, but strangers? I also was raised with the adage "If you can't say anything nice ..." but I also learned that when some stranger butts in, the best reply is a smile and the reply, "Why, thank you for your concern" -- and then just let it go in one ear and out the other. I do like your column, and I certainly meant no disrespect.
Angela Jordan-Chetcuti June 09, 2011 at 09:17 PM
Heidi, I took no offense to your comment. I was just stating that we do get struck by people's comments regardeless of whether we know them or not. Maybe it's wrong for us to let a stranger have that affect on us, but sometimes we do. I felt very bad for my friend. It really is hard enough to be a parent without someone trying to make you feel bad for a decision you have made. Thanks for your comments! I look forward to more!
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