One thing that drives me bonkers about those that don’t have children, is that they sometimes take it upon themselves to pass judgement on my parenting. In reality, this isn’t judgement, it’s well-intentioned, supportive and kind advice, but my inner critic can take it as: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT, YOU’RE SO SHIT AT RAISING CHILDREN!
Yet, when I was
skinny, not haggered and capable of semi-intelligent conversation child-free, I passed judgement all the time. Husband Dearest and I were awful. We could often be heard saying ‘Well, they’re just making a rod for their own back’, following a meet up with those with offspring. I always abhorred people who shook the confidence of parents by passing comment, yet, I was worse because I did it without even the courage to say it to their faces.
Yet, I’m not a malicious or judgey person, so I do have to question why this bad habit crept into my behaviour. I think, as an individual knowing children were on the horizon, I struggled to see people I cared about be ruled by their headstrong sprogs. And my remarks were not to condemn others, but more to reassure and convince myself that, if faced with a similar confrontation during my own parenting experience, I would be equipped to deal with it.
Obviously, I was stupid and wrong. I am ill-equipped to deal with having a baby who wants to feed all night, a toddler who thinks the way to get around having to walk is to slam his derrière on the pavement and refuse to move, and I am seriously seriously not equipped to deal with poo in the potty (it’s just not right, there’s human shit, like, right right there). Now, when Husband Dearest and I start to slip into discussing others’ parenting styles, we are quick to say ‘but that’s their way’, or ‘it’s not us in that situation’. We’ve taken the long way round, and we’ve learnt the hard way (many screaming, throwing, hitting tantrums later – and that’s just Husband Dearest), but we respect the different approaches of parenting.
That learnt, the aim of this post is to remind myself and encourage other parents to give child-free advice givers a break. Yes, it’s fucking annoying to have your tried and tested ‘ignoring’ technique questioned, on the grounds that it may cause your son to grow up as a sociopath. Likewise, hearing the gentle-yet-fucking makes you want to smack them in the face tone of ‘Have you tried…’ may push you over the edge. But these people haven’t got the experience you have. And you were one of them once. And if you were anything like me, you judged too once. The advice is probably much more about them persuading themselves that they can cope when the time comes, than it is them thinking you’re incapable. Yes, they’re probably totally in denial – but aren’t we all?
So smile, nod and remember – their lesson will come to them. Probably when they least expect it. And hopefully in the form of a newborn pissing in their face.
– Exception to the rule: Mother-in-Laws.
Their comments are always about thinking you’re incapable. And their lesson will probably never come. And you still have to fucking smile and nod. My advice here is to take any little, petty victory you can – stick two fingers up at her when she’s not looking, sneeze into her birthday card before you seal it, use far too much toilet roll when visiting her house. No, it won’t change the situation, but it should make it feel a teensy-weensy bit more just.