When you want to open your mouth…don’t.

I read a post on FB today that took a humorous look at parenting.  One of the pieces of advice was that before you become pregnant/have kids of your own to find the parent of a child/toddler/baby and lecture/judge them on all the things they’re doing “wrong.”  It will be the last time you know anything about parenting.

But the truth is that we can all get a bit sanctimommy-ish.

We know I’ve been the victim of some drive-by (in one case, literally) parenting in the last year.  I know how much worse it makes your day.  I know that it helps nothing and no one, and is only going to piss off the person you want to fix help.

This does not mean that I do not have the urge to be the drive-by expert on parenting myself on occasion.

There was the person in my friend’s list who posted a video of giving her 2 month old jarred baby food. BUTT BABYZ R ONLY SUPOZED 2 ET MILK FOR 6 MUNTHS!!!!

Or the discussion that happened when another person talked about stopping use of the fan because it drove up the electricity bill. BUTT IT LOWERZ SIDS RISK!  AND DOESN’T ACTUALLY USE ANY ELECTRICITY AS COMPARED TO YOUR TV/FRIDGE/LAPTOP!

When I see moms with days old babies get into cars/cabs here in Singapore with NO CAR SEAT at the hospital I’m touring…just holding them in arms.  OMFG YOU’RE GOIN 2 DI!!!!!!!1111!!!!

I kept my big mouth shut.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  I linked an article to the whole “a fan in the room can lower SIDS risk by 70%” study that was done recently, and as I know this person doesn’t read anything about/buy into the whole modern take on parenting.  When I saw the argument about how much electricity a fan uses start and how it was going nowhere, I realized I shouldn’t have bothered in the first place and have otherwise kept my big mouth shut.

Where’s the line?

In the US it made me NUTS to see parents put bucket seats into their cars with the handles still extended up.  This makes the car seat much less safe and increases the risk of injury to the baby in the event of a car accident because that handle will prevent the bucket seat from reacting the way it’s designed to in a crash to best protect the baby inside.  I never said anything to those parents though.

In general, at playgrounds when kids modeled behavior I didn’t want E engaging in (such as flying down the slide face-first…thanks for the suggestion!!!!) I would stop E and remind her how “in our family, we XXXXX” (ride down the slide on our butts/do not jump off very high platforms onto solid ground/ poke sticks into our eyes).  I’m not a fan of this, because it’s highly passive aggressive.  But I DO need to correct my child and make clear my expectations to her.

You see kids and parents melt down all the time.  But interfering isn’t going to help in most cases.  As the parent whose kid was making her psychotic yesterday after 30 minutes in a shopping cart where she tried to do everything but sit properly in the seat (SERIOUSLY SINGAPORE…WHAT THE FUCK IS WITH THE LACK OF CART BASED SEAT BELTS??? WHYYYYYYYYYY?  WHY DO YOU HATE US?) including getting her leg jammed between the foldy seat and the side of the cart…TWICE, my patience was not at an all time high.  This was also following her stopping to do splits in the middle of the mall…which was cute the first two times and less so the sixteenth and seventeenth.  I had finally picked her up (and gotten several good blows to my thighs and stomach for the effort) and strained my back carrying her to Carrefour where I really really really had to stop and buy some critical things.  Had anyone said anything to me, as I was barely keeping it together, trying to GET OUT and get home as fast as humanly possible…I would have broken.  My temper, my tears…both perilously close to the surface would have warred for supremacy.  Neither would have improved the situation.

You know what would have improved the situation?  Not being a jackass who thinks she can go places without her stroller just because her kid MOSTLY walks.  Not sublimating the fact that I have a shit back and my kid is as the very edge of what I’m even allowed to contemplate picking up, much less carry around for ages on end.  Not giving in and carrying her instead of letting B do it because E threw a much bigger tantrum when anyone but Mommy carries her.  Or, failing any of those, transporter technology would have been just SUPER.  Notice that none of the things that would have helped was a stranger telling me PARENTING–UR DOIN IT RONG!

When I see a parent (or kid) not at their best (or let’s face it, whatever version of reality I think is “best” at that moment), I generally say nothing.  At most I try to give the parent a sympathetic “I’ve been there too, we’re all in this together” smile.

Because you don’t know when the parent has just had the day from hell.  Or is trying to cope with a major life issue beyond their control (like a death, or a job loss, or a miscarriage).  Or that the kid has a delay or issue that is causing the issue (I’ve seen many an autistic melt down at Target).

Obviously there are moments when a stranger should intervene…physical child abuse, harmful acts, etc.  Or even, quite frankly, when the older kids try to jump into the toddler ball pit (when they have one of their own) and are showing zero regard for the small kids…I directly interfered with those kids because their parents were nowhere in site and E, along with a much smaller and a similar aged kid were in actual danger.  The other parent and the helper were visibly upset by the older kids but said nothing.  Me?  Couldn’t keep the mouth shut that time, and ordered the big kids out and sent them packing. (Qualification–I wouldn’t have cared if they were being careful…that they weren’t and that they shouldn’t have been there at all is why I stopped it).

Will feeding a 2 month old cause food allergies or digestive issues?  There’s a small chance that’s true, according to the current literature.  But it’s also probably true that a very minimal, microscopic amount is actually making its way to the child’s stomach.  She, like the vast vast vast majority of kids will likely be fine.  And if she isn’t, it was not MY choice to feed the food to her.  Nor would my critiquing her parent have changed the end result.

In general, I think the lesson is to just zip the lip.

But it still makes me nuts.

What about you guys?  When do you keep it shut and when do you intervene?

This entry was posted in Parenting Theories. Bookmark the permalink.