Social Question

nikipedia's avatar

Parents: Are there things you wish non-parents understood?

Asked by nikipedia (27509points) December 6th, 2011

Inspired by that Santa Claus thread—there was a bit of discussion about parents and non-parents seeing things differently, and I’d like to open that up here. Nothing specific, just wondering what your experiences have been in terms of non-parents and parents having different perspectives.

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134 Answers

6rant6's avatar

Everybody else’s job looks easy.

janbb's avatar

Sometimes you really can’t “just make that kid shut up” even though you devoutly want to.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

This goes both ways. As a non-parent I don’t mind too much if your child is a little noisy and fussy, even in a restuarant. I was a kid once too.

JilltheTooth's avatar

One) Children are actually their own people, we just stand on the sidelines and try to teach them stuff.
Two) Believing in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, etc, doesn’t damage children. Wacko parents who tie up those things with sick punishments and promises damage children.
Three) Sometimes, no matter how attractive you make it, the kid won’t eat it, wear it, do it or accept it. That goes back to point number One.

JLeslie's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Yeah, that’s the thing, I don’t get how people seem to not remember being a kid? Not only people without kids, but parents too. I always wondered if I became a parents if I would become like so many parents I know and seemingly completely forget the perspective of a child. I’m sure it is part of the job. Kind of like when someone moves from Sales to Management and become one of them.

As far as kids being fussy or noisy in a restaurant or plane, we can tell if a parent is trying to do something about it or not.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

My level of exhaustion is deeper than yours even if we had the same lack of sleep—> reason: you might have slept 2 hours because of stress or a paper or whatever…I slept 2 hours and the rest of my night, my brain and body were ‘on’ at all times in listening to any peep my child makes..this is especially intense with infants and especially if you’re a first time parent..it’s this kind of constant awareness that seizes your body, to be watchful and mindful and upright…it exhausts the body more than when you’re not constantly prepared to deal with some emergency befalling your spawn…it’s an evolutionary burden, so to speak, unconsciously…you’ve just got to be much more alert and tense when your baby is sick than if the baby wasn’t there and you just didn’t get any sleep.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I wish more non-parents would understand that because they don’t have children, they simply just can not understand certain situations. I’m not saying non-parents can never give good advice about children, but much of the time it is impossible to give knowledgeable advice on something you’ve never experienced.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Great point. I have always believed the exhaustion of a parent is not to be compared with anything else.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Yes, parental exhaustion is more intense, parental stress is more intense and parental frustration is more intense.

JilltheTooth's avatar

And @WillWorkForChocolate and @Simone_De_Beauvoir , when things work out, when they’re safe, fed, asleep, whatever, parental relief is more intense.

zenvelo's avatar

That what seem like a one-off decision a parent make is part of a holistic parenting, encompassing our own understanding of a child we’ve known all their life. We’re not claiming perfection, but we know when to let our child be, and when to intervene.

ucme's avatar

Nah, not really. Although this preoccupation with letting kids grow up way too fast does bug me. Let them have their childhood, it’s the best time of your life. I loved it so much I never grew up…..yipppeeee!!

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@JilltheTooth That is also true. There is greater relief and frequently, greater joy in being a parent than non-parents can understand.

wilma's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir , @WillWorkForChocolate and @JilltheTooth are right, the worry, stress, exhaustion and relief are beyond compare when it concerns your child.
No matter how many you have, even when you have been through it before, it’s hard work raising children.

Those people who are not parents might imagine how it is, they may understand that it is difficult, but they can’t really feel it.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I do understand the enormous frustration that goes with having cogent, sane, well thought out opinions about child-rearing, and having them dismissed because you don’t have children. It’s like saying to a young person, “You’ll understand when you’re older.” I was in my mid 30s when I became a parent, a fully realized adult, educated, observant, intelligent, and I resented being dismissed because I “didn’t understand”. Then I became a parent and you know what? They were right. I hadn’t understood. I also haven’t and never will understand what it’s like to be a man, an African American, or 6’ tall. If I continue to choose not to marry, I will not understand what it’s like to be a spouse. Some things you just don’t get until you’re there, no matter how observant or intelligent you are.

nikipedia's avatar

@JilltheTooth, fair enough, but I also don’t think parents should play that as a trump card whenever someone disagrees with them. Non-parents might not be able to understand everything as well as parents, but sometimes they’re still on target.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@nikipedia : Really, how often do non-parents get to see the whole picture unless they’re living with the family? There may have been a week of incidents and circumstances that led up to the 3 minute event from which you drew a conclusion. Maybe we get a bit short tempered and fed up because when our kids are still living at home, let’s say for about 18 years worth, you would be amazed ( I mean that literally) at how many well-meaning non-parents give us unsolicited advice, that 99.999% of the time has no bearing on the reality of what’s going on. If somebody’s on target from time to time, forgive me if I get fed up anyway, because the last 6 people who told me how to deal with my child were way off base, and I have my hands full, and I’m tired. Sometimes you guys probably are on target. I just missed it because all the other guys weren’t. Sorry.

nikipedia's avatar

@JilltheTooth, what about things that aren’t specific to the child or circumstance? For instance, I have heard from the anti-vaccination crowd, “You can’t understand why it’s important not to vaccinate because you don’t have a child.” That kinda thing.

SuperMouse's avatar

1) My kid screaming or tantruming or acting out in any other way in the grocery store, restaurant, park, etc. bothers me at least as much as it bothers you. Trust me, I am doing all that I can to make it stop and when at all possible I would much rather take that kid out of the situation rather than subject you (or me) to the behavior.
2) While I am very happy that you are a wonderful person because your parents smacked you when you deserved it, I am not a bad or permissive mother just because I have never hit my kids.
3) Every child is different and what worked for your niece, nephew, or neighbor’s cousins middle boy’s step-son might not be the panacea for all children.

JLeslie's avatar

@JilltheTooth Sometimes a non-parent or just a parent outside of the situation can be more objective or see a new angle. I agree a random person just giving unsolicited parental advice has a big chance of not understanding the entire situation, but a friend who has the details might give you a good, new, idea, or view of a situation. The santa Q, I don’t see how people without kids can’t have a valid opinion on that? Or, as @nikipedia suggested vaccinations. That isn’t really about understanding the parent child dynamic.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@nikipedia : I’m not going to have the vax, anti-vax argument, here, but maybe while you’ve read everything, pro and con about the issue, most people haven’t and are spouting a popular view. You can bet, however, that most of the parents have done a lot more research on the subject, (whether or not their sources were valid or reputable is not the point here) than the average person, because it relates to their child. I can’t explain it better than that. The parents get what I mean. How many people in your life are you solely responsible for the well-being of all the minutes of all the days? How many people in your life would you actually die for without a second thought? Melodramatic sounding, I know, but that’s how it is for most of us. It alters one’s perceptions.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@SuperMouse Well said. When my kids are acting up, I think it bothers me more than it bothers non-parental types that are witnesses to it.

@JilltheTooth Precisely! <much clapping>

JilltheTooth's avatar

@JLeslie : I was specifically addressing non-parents. As to the rest of your post, please reread my post above @nikipedia ‘s last post. This isn’t about reasoned objectivity. If I’m consulting you as a professional, trained in a specific area relative to my child’s care, fine. Otherwise, see above.

Luiveton's avatar

We remember being kids we just don’t like taking care of them. As a non-parent I can’t stand screaming kids, I just want to kill them. I know it sounds wrong but it just drives me crazy.
I guess if I ever decide to become a mom that might change..hopefully.

JLeslie's avatar

I guess I just truly believe I would be intensely in love with my child, worried about them continuing to breath every minute of the day, and that even though I believe it deeply, I also believe I have no idea how much more intense it is in actuality, even though I already am aware I can’t fully imagine it. I think a lot of parents had no clue what being a parent would be like, were cavalier themselves about becoming parents, and so then they think most non parents are as they were.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@JLeslie : You know what I went through to have KatawaGrey, so you can extrapolate from that how I felt before I had her, and how I anticipated the way I would feel. And seriously, it’s just way different and more so than I could have imagined. Really.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Luiveton Parents will give the parent of a screaming child a sympathetic look or helping hand. A non-parent gives the evil eye. A parent understands. This is why the little old ladies try to distract the screaming toddler and why the college students head for the door. ;)

JLeslie's avatar

@JilltheTooth Just to be clear, I think a lot non parents are totally ignorant about a lot of parental situations.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond I think a lot parents do a trip on themselves. As @SuperMouse pointed out, the parent is probably way more freaked out about their kid acting up than the bystander. I think sometimes parents are worried about my negative thoughts when I am not negative at all. College kids tend to be young, selfish, and annoying.

JilltheTooth's avatar

There’s a factor that was mentioned by @Simone_De_Beauvoir up there, that’s been repeated in the thread that has a huge bearing on all of this. We’re TIRED, folks. For years. That’s a big deal.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@JLeslie You nailed that one. When I was in college we were eating with some buddies in a chinese restuarant and there was a noisy kid with his parents. I remember turning to one of the guys and saying “Small child chow mein.” I’d forgot about that.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Oh, yeah, and one more thing. Remember, we parents were non-parents before we had children. We are qualified to speak to both sides of this.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@JLeslie Actually, one can imagine what loving a child is like, but one can never actually know, until one has experienced it. I thought I could never love anyone more than my husband until I had a daughter.

You can believe you will intensely love a child, but you can never truly know exactly how intense it is until you have one. I thought I knew how I would feel about a child, even while I was pregnant. But when I pushed her out and held her dirty, squirming body in my arms, I was overwhelmed with a more intense, more deep, more passionate, more oh my god look what I made, kind of love than I had ever imagined.

And you can imagine being worried about a child, you can sympathize with parents who have gone through traumatic circumstances, but until you actually face those circumstances with your own child, you can’t really know how it feels. I thought I knew what it was to worry about a child, until my oldest drowned when she was little. I thought I knew what relief was until I was all alone and was forced to resuscitate my own child. I experienced that worry and relief yet again when my youngest had a nasty fall last year.

So you’re right. You can imagine what it would be like with a child, but you can never actually know and feel the intensity of it until you experience it yourself.

I think that’s why a lot of parents don’t appreciate advice from non-parents. Because even though you (you, as in non-parents, not you specifically) can remember being a child yourself, you can not fully comprehend what goes into raising a child and every tiny detail that parents must pay attention to, nor can you begin to comprehend how to pick your battles with obstinate children or how to weigh and measure every different type of punishment for wrong-doing, and how your own child will respond to it.

So when non-parents give unsolicited advice on situations they can’t really understand because they haven’t been there themselves, it frequently comes across as though even though they’ve never had kids, they think they know my own kid better than I do, and it’s irritating as hell.

JLeslie's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate That’s what I said.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Yes, I was agreeing. That’s why I said, “So you’re right.” =0)

JLeslie's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Got it :). Ok, thanks.

JilltheTooth's avatar

now I really miss having my kid living at home. :-(

JLeslie's avatar

When I see a kid acting up, crying, throwing a tantrum, and a parent having a hard time controlling the child I don’t judge or get annoyed if it is obvious the parent is either trying, or possibly purposely ignoring. It depends on the age of the child to, but typically I completely understand kids can just get upset or try to pull a power trip. Or, the kid might be uncomfortable, but the parent needs to get certain errands done and is doing his/her best. I get it.

If I see a kid leave a mess by knocking over things in a store or tons of food or wrappers on the floor in a restaurant or theatre, then I think that parent better pick it up if their child won’t. If anything to be an example for not abusing staff at a retail business, and caring for other people’s property. When they don’t, I know the child is like that, because the parent is like that. It has nothing to do with disciplining or controlling the child, or with the child being a bad kid. When a kid was kicking the back of my chair on a plane, I was not angry, but when I asked them to stop and the mom said, “oh, I did realize someone was in the chair,” why is it ok to put your dirty shoes on the fabric of the seat and kick it anyway? When I was at an outdoor concert and people continued to talk throughout the concert, adults and their children, I did not think twice about that being a parenting issue, it was an issue about those adults not shutting up for the one hour the concert was performed. One hour. I am sure all the kids would have been obedient for the hour if asked to be quiet, but the parents were talking themselves. A glance at a couple kids running around next to my dad during the concert at one point was not disgust at the kids or a judgement about parenting, but about the adults themselves who don’t know how to behave at a concert.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I raised four children, and let me tell you; there are not even two parents who see things the same. I guess what I would like a non-parent to understand is that we aren’t all as crazy as the parent out there that give the rest of us a bad name. You know the ones I’m talking about.

Coloma's avatar

I think non-parents often have very idealized and rigid ideas of how other people “should” raise kids.
Basic decent social graces aside.
I know I had some pretty rigid ideas before I became a mom.
Oh yeah, I wasn’t going to allow this or that, and I kept to my ideals for the most part, but, parenting requires constant flexibility and revision.

The old walk a mile in anothers moccasins mantra.
Bottom line, opinions vs. experience.
Experience trumps opinion any day of the week.
The actual hands on of anything is a requisite for any credibility.

One doesn’t become an expert equestrian watching other people ride horses.
Ya gotta saddle up and hit the dirt a few times before you claim jumping horses is easy. haha

JilltheTooth's avatar

@JLeslie : Between all those years working retail and in restaurants I can tell you, yes, that kind of stuff is a bugaboo. I can also tell you that many times I saw parents come back when they could (often the child needs to be removed from the store by the parent) and make some kind of retribution. The careless parents, the incompetent parents, these are the ones that stick in people’s minds that they notice. If the child is quiet and pleasant, s/he will often go unnoticed and unremarked by others. So the difficult ones are the ones that are remembered, not the scads of non-disruptive ones.
Which is all a discussion for another thread.

And, @Coloma , I remember swearing that my child would never eat fast food. Ever. Hahahahaha.

Coloma's avatar

@JilltheTooth LOL..yeah me too, and TV and blah, blah, blah….she’s turned out just fine as I know your girl has. :-)

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Coloma Yeah, when I was younger, I swore to high heaven that I would never do what my mother did and tell my kids, “There are children starving in other countries!” when they complained about their food. But you know what? Enough times of “I don’t like this”, “This is gross”, I don’t want spaghetti”, “Do I have to eat this” and I’d had enough. Out came the, “You know what? There are homeless kids who have to dig through dumpsters to find a few bites of food, so shush it and be grateful for what you’ve got!” Yep, I went there. <bangs head against desk>

There’s a certain point in a mother’s state of frustration where logic and “I never will” goes right out the window!

JLeslie's avatar

@JilltheTooth Absolutely. I saw parents all the time do the right thing whether it be demanding the child pick up the mess, or cleaning it up themselves if the situation warranted it. I also rarely see children acting badly to be honest. Typically they are well behaved and polite. Teens on their own is a different story, it can go either way. Ha. But, that does not necessarily reflect on the parent.

Coloma's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate

Haha..one thing I DID do very differently was I had to beg for a pet, with my daughter it was always “SURE we can keep it!” She never knew the agony of begging for a pet. lol

JilltheTooth's avatar

@JLeslie : A lot of teens are pod people. Never mine, of course…..

@Coloma and @WillWorkForChocolate ; “And my child will only play with natural wooden toys, handcrafted by Tibetan monks…”

janbb's avatar

@JilltheTooth A friend of mine laughed at me for serving carrot cake at my son’s first birthday. By the time he was two I knew that cupcakes with frosting from a can and sprinkles was what was called for.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb Haha. You made me think of when I was little my mom always served homemade chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for my birthday and I wanted one of those store bought sheet cakes with white icing and roses on it. My mom’s intent was different than yours, but in the end the kids want whatever their friends have I guess.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Isn’t it a bit presumptuous to say that you are definitely more tired than all non-parents when you don’t know what’s going on in the specific life of a non-parent? I’m not trying to say that kids don’t lead to massive, chronic, and deep-rooted exhaustion, but your wording makes it sound like no matter what’s going on in anyone else’s life, parents should get more sympathy than anyone else on the fatigue front.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@JLeslie : They usually just want what’s different from what you do. I grew up on mashed potato flakes from a box, my mom couldn’t really cook. I always gave KatawaGrey real potatoes that I mashed myself. She loves the stuff from a box. Go figure.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Oh good God, @Aethelflaed , isn’t it a bit presumptuous of you to extrapolate so much from a general statement of parental versus non-parental fatigue wherein nothing was said abou all non-parents everywhere? In general, she’s right. Believe it or not.

janbb's avatar

@JilltheTooth I have to agree with @Aethelflaed that it sounded a bit to me as well as if Simone was saying that parental fatigue is sui generis.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@janbb : Ah, see I just read it as basic “I didn’t sleep” vs “I was up and frightened and freaked out all night”.

Coloma's avatar

@JilltheTooth LOL…that was great!
Reminds of a friend I have, a total supposed health nut, ate Stove Top stuffing, on Thanksgiving Pecan Pie made with processed flour crust, but rejected regular french bread because it was full of chemicals and glutton. haha

Which in turn reminds of a woman I once knew that wouldn’t allow her son to eat hot dogs because they were toxic, yet he could run amok in her pottery studio inhaling toxic glazes and dust. People and their insane reasoning. Never mind, I digress…that free association thing lol

wundayatta's avatar

Not all kids have tantrums. Not all kids are noisy. Not all kids break things wherever they go. Some do none of these things.

What are we to conclude about parents whose children don’t do these things? Is it a fluke?

Parenting is hard and yet there’s a lot of research about what works and what doesn’t. Just heard a story about what works with tantrums yesterday.

Parenting may be hard, but that doesn’t mean that all parents will see things the same way. Some parents may let their kids run around in the restaurant, or will let them throw a tantrum or cry without taking it outside, and others won’t. Still others won’t even go out to a restaurant until the kid is ten years old.

Some parents lose all kinds of sleep and others train their babies to sleep through the night at six months. Then they potty train at a year and a half. WTF???? Some kids are constantly defying their parents and others practice an hour each day without even being told to. Some get straight A’s (and have to be told to sleep) and others are barely passing (and have to be told to come home so they can sleep).

What’s the difference? Is it parenting skills? Or is it dumb luck? Or, if it’s a combination, how much of each is it?

We know a lot of things about parenting, if we look at the research. We know that being a single parent is a lot harder. We know that kids in “intact” families score better on tests and do better in school. There are a gazillion other things we know.

Honestly, I don’t know what I wish non-parents understood. In my case, I wish I could tell them I don’t want my kids to disturb them. But if they don’t mind if the kids run around, I’d like to know that. Some people aren’t bothered by that. Sometimes people are kid supportive and other times they aren’t. I wish I could know which crowd this is, because if it’s the wrong crowd, I’ll go somewhere else.

Fortunately, I belong to a group of friends that is pretty tolerant. Then again, maybe my kids are more tolerable. My kids play well with adults. There are other kids who do not have the self control my kids do. Is that because I started training them in utero (well, my wife did that training, but I joined in when they popped out)? Or is it plain old dumb luck?

In any case, we were told it was ok to have kids there. Other parents are told the same thing, and yet it doesn’t work out. I can see how they work with their kids differently from us. Is that why our kids can do it and others can’t? Or is it just luck?

There’s no way to know. Never any way to know. But perhaps parents think non-parents don’t know that and can’t understand that. I just want to say that there are parents who also look at other parents and wonder why they don’t do this or that. I look at some parents, and I know I could handle that differently and there would be no problem. Why are those parents doing that? Is it that I don’t understand what’s going on? Or is there a real difference in parenting skill?

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta Do you think maybe the parent is less likely to open their mouth and tell the other parent, “hey, you might try this to deal with that situation you have with your kid,” while the non parents just offers unsolicited advice. That maybe the parent thinks twice, because they themselves don’t want to have their parenting questioned? I’m just talking generally, I know it probably varies in each group.

nebule's avatar

I wish that when I was a non-parent I truly understood the amount of freedom I had.

There were many things that I believed about having children before I was blessed with one myself and find that even a year ago (my son is now 5) I had opinions on how I should and would try to do things should they occur with respect to my son, but you never know how you will deal with it from one day to the next.

You are a changing being interacting with a changing being interacting with many other beings and external factors, sometimes this experience can be bliss and sometimes it feels like hell. The responisbility is intense, immense, heart-rending, exhausting and it never ends.

And to top it all off everyone seems to have an opinion on whether you are doing a good job or not and for people like me…incredibly self-critical, conscientious, self-reflective, perfectionist…it only serves to make being a parent more hard work.

judochop's avatar

Sometimes a child just needs to cry.
Sometimes it is okay to let little ones wander as long as they stay in sight.
It is good to encourage interaction. Say hi to the kid, don’t just stare or ignore him/her.
Not all kids are going to remember all the time to cover their mouths and noses during cold season.
It is okay to tell my child “no” if they are doing something wrong and I happen to not see it.

MissAusten's avatar

I can’t say it better than it’s been said above, but I’ll second the idea that when some non-parents are tempted to make a snap-judgment bases on one observation, they should try to remember they have no way of seeing the whole picture.

Also, I don’t think many non-parents realize how angry and hateful they can sound when they go off about “todays little brats” or make comments about “precious snowflakes.” What is the value of being nasty like that in any situation, especially one you probably know nothing about? I know it’s currently trendy to hate on parents and claim previous generations did things “right,” but why not be the bigger person, buck that trend, and add a little kindness to the world? Or if that’s asking to much, zip it and move on!

And as a side note, I do sometimes think I’m the only person who remembers my childhood. In spite of all the perfect parenting that went on “back in the day” when we were all spanked, I remember all kinds of neighborhood shenanigans that would fit right into the kind of stories people like to tell here about bratty kids, bullying, lack of manners, and all kinds of crazy shit that happened when our parents were at work or when we were running around on our own. I think the difference was that people expected us to fuck up because we were kids and that’s what kids do. It’s how you learn. I don’t understand why so many people now seem to expect kids to act like adults.

janbb's avatar

@MissAusten I love it when you show up here.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@MissAusten : Hear hear! And I’m wincing, now, as I remember some of those “shenanigans”. Surprised I’m alive.

MissAusten's avatar

Snuck that in while making meatballs and supervising my precious snowflakes as they finish their homework! I told myself a long time ago I wouldn’t get sucked into these parenting vs. non-parenting discussions, but it’s so hard to resist…

JilltheTooth's avatar

@MissAusten : Considering the time of year, and memories of last winter, please be sure to keep your (and all for that matter) “precious snowflakes” in check….

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aethelflaed Of course it’s impossible to know everyone’s reality and of course there are, I’m sure, plenty of people who are spending sleepless nights in that kind of alert and frazzled state of mind (maybe due to panic attacks or depression, I’ve been there) where they’re trapped in their bodies. I was just talking more about the daily grind, not outliers…that my peers are not as tired when they have sleepless nights because their nights are different in intensity from mine… I am also hypothesizing (maybe there is literature out there on this topic, in evo psych or evo bio or whatever) that the kind of anxiety you feel when your offspring might be in trouble (and yes parents of adopted children feel this too and yes so do fathers) is a different kind of anxiety..you don’t even want to feel it and you do…I hear a screaming child now and my body goes into response mode, regardless of whether it’s my child or not…and NOWHERE did I say I want sympathy for any of what I go through…I have zero tolerance for that kind of ‘oh you poor mommy, not shut up’ kind of thing I get in my direction from some non-parents…this parenting thing of mine isn’t about you and it isn’t about me so much…it’s not about a ‘you vs. me’ thing I mean…it’s not about sympathy, I am voluntarily a parent and voluntary into all that comes with it…I don’t get why anyone reads this thread as asking for sympathy…we’re talking about understanding, not pity or empathy.

nikipedia's avatar

@JilltheTooth, so now parents are more likely to fully research issues than non-parents? Huh?

JilltheTooth's avatar

@nikipedia: Oh, cleverly put. When it comes to issues that directly relate to their childrens health, yes, they are definitely more likely to research things more thoroughly than non-parents will research things related to childrens health. In general, not counting the scientists and specialists.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Can’t say I put a whole lot of stock in evo psychology; so often they come out with “women are hardwired to talk more” or “teens are hardwired to be slutty” that I’ve really lost the ability to believe humans could successfully interpret evolutionary psychology.

Blondesjon's avatar

Yeah. I wish they understood what it means to have fucking kids.

Until they do, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, they need to refrain from any kind of input when it comes to raising children.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aethelflaed Yeah, me neither…there probably is something somewhere written up about what a parent feels (they’d probably write about women only, though) when their small child is around or in the next room and the body goes into this constant monitoring mode. I don’t know maybe no one has written about it, I just know I’ve felt it.

Coloma's avatar

Well..IMO, the most important thing a parent can do, is let their child be themselves!
I have listened to so many parents/people, bitching about their kids because they are’nt perfect little clones of the parent. Can you spell n-a-r-c-i-s-s-i-s-t!

Bah!

Just because you give birth to a person doesn’t automatically mean they are your nemesis!

People project so much it’s astounding!

nikipedia's avatar

@JilltheTooth, I really am not trying to bait you or twist your words. I just find it hard to believe that you (or any of the other parents here) honestly want to argue that every parent knows better than every non-parent when it comes to any issue pertaining to parenting. If that is not your position, please feel free to clarify, but I would really like it if that could be done with less defensiveness and hostility. I know that you are a great mother and a smart and compassionate person and I really do want to understand your position.

Blondesjon's avatar

@nikipedia . . . I am not gay nor am I transgender, therefore I don’t give any input on how anyone gay or transgender should live their lives.

I don’t own or raise hamsters, therefore I refrain from giving my two cents on how these cute little critters should be raised.

I don’t take ecstasy so I am the last person you want to talk to if you need advice on Rave Etiquette.

Need I say more?

JilltheTooth's avatar

No, I’m not saying that, @nikipedia , and I never said that anywhere on this thread, but I’ll bet we (in general) know volumes more than most non-parents about parenting issues. As I also said above, we were non parents before we were parents, we are qualified to speak to both sides of this issue. I am constantly surprised that people without children seem to be so reluctant to think that maybe they don’t know as much about children as people with children. I have never studied architecture, and I never assume that I know more than an architect.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Blondesjon <standing ovation>

The ^^ dude said it perfectly. You just can’t give sound advice to a club of which you are not a member. I said in an earlier post that I’m not trying to say that non-parents can never give good advice to parents, but in most cases, it’s just impossible to give any sort of advice on something that you have not experienced.

Parenting is a different kettle of fish than other “unknown” situations we (we, as in humans) like to comment on. You can offer advice about quite a few things that other people haven’t experienced, like what to do after having been raped, or what do after having been robbed, but unless you’ve been a parent yourself, it’s almost impossible to give advice on parenting.

SuperMouse's avatar

@nikipedia I really don’t think that @JilltheTooth is saying that all parents know more about every issue related to parenting than non-parents. I think she is saying that as a group, parents tend to be more informed about issues directly relating to their children. For instance, I can almost guarantee you that I know more about Ferbering a baby then any non-parent out there. When it involves my kid I put all of my research skills to work and learn everything I possibly can about a subject. I will concede that there are of course parents out there who do not do this but I would wager that the majority of parents do like to be well informed on issues that affect their kids.

I was the best parent in the world before I had kids. I had it knocked and my fictional kids were freaking Doogie Howser. I wish non-parents understood that parenting in theory is a lot different than parenting in practice.

Pandora's avatar

There are good parents and bad parents, just the same as there is bad children and good children. Some of the worst parents can be lucky and blessed with great kids despite a lousy upbringing and some of the best can be unlucky to have a spawn from hell.
I’ve known parents of both types raise the total opposite. You can teach a child how to behave proper but personality of that child also determines what type of person it turns out to be. Its nature and nurture. Not all nurture.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

Committing yourself to your children is a life-long thing, not just until they turn 18.

EmptyNest's avatar

Yes! DO NOT GIVE ADVICE! YOU HAVE NO CLUE!

wundayatta's avatar

Hell, even if you’re a parent, don’t give anyone else advice. I sometimes forget that. But usually I remember that my parenting style is not exactly standard, so most people look at me askance. I’m watching a video from when my daughter was just born. We were taught to support her chin when we were burping her, but it sure looks like I’m choking her in that video.

The video made me remember that there was also a still photo of that scene that I took to work and hung up for a while. But all the cracks about them needing to report me to children’s services because I was choking her made me finally take the photo down. All in jest, I’m sure, but annoying all the same.

Well, fifteen years later, she’s still alive. Also, just like many teens, she hates high school.

bob_'s avatar

Apparently us non-parents need to understand that parents deserve a medal for doing something that billions upon billions have done throughout history. Is being a parent tiring? Sure, but then so are many other things.

@everephebe Bill Burr’s take on motherhood here. Garfunkel & Oates’ take on pregnancy here.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

We try our best to teach our kids the right way of doing things, being good, being responsible, etc., but all we can do is try our best, and after that it’s out of our hands.

JLeslie's avatar

Joe Frost, the Supernanny, seems to be advising people while not having any children herself. This goes to @nikipedia‘s point that people who are not parents can be read up on the topic, have some experience, or have some knowledge of child rearing. I know Joe Frost is not the average nonparent since she has years of caring for children, but certainly a non parent might have seen a show of hers, or read a book on parenting, or a specific topic, and share their knowledge with a parent who might be unaware of a technique.

I’m sure the parents in our collective are well read, seek advice, and really think about how they parent. After all, fluther is a place that attract people who like to learn, discuss, and ask questions of others and themselves. But, there are a whole bunch of parents out there who just parent as their parents did, even if they hated their childhood, and never open a book or research anything.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bob_ Just like with being human, there is a difference with producing offspring and being a good parent…you can be born but whether you’re a good human is different. I don’t think anyone here or ever asked you to give us any medals.

bob_'s avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Thank you for clearing that up.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bob_ Just returning a favor. I know I was quite thankful when in my thread you let me know that not all men think alike – I was like ‘oh my, I’ll have to look into this thing called gender now’.

bob_'s avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Well, what’d you find?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bob_ Apparently, the ‘go make me a sandwich’ is quite a trope.

bob_'s avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Yeah, and the other day I found out that bestiality is not that big of a deal.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bob_ Well, I’m certainly not going to judge you for it. And yes, I remember how you know about me and that bulldog years ago. Big whoop.

Bellatrix's avatar

My experience with non-parents in my family is that they think they are parenting experts. They don’t have children but think spending a little time with children qualifies them to tell me how to parent my children. I am happy to accept advice (preferably when I ask for it) but I do not appreciate those who have never dealt with the challenges of being a parent giving me unsolicited and advice about how I should do things. The people I am thinking of really have no idea.

Stinley's avatar

I quite like hearing advice (most of the questions I ask here are about parenting) and I’m quite happy to listen to either parents or non-parents. I think that people can have good ideas no matter what their situation is. I also think that someone with a lot of experience with parenting, like Supernanny, can keep a sense of perspective and those of us with kids tend to see things from our own perspective.

I think that a lot of the time when people make comments about children’s behaviour, they are probably not understanding the whole situation but I can also see that the behaviour that makes them comment is usually behaviour which is not socially acceptable. Maybe what they are doing is pointing this out, but in a way that would hopefully be more supportive than ‘your kid is out of control – do something!’.

Back to the original question, I wish that I had understood that having a baby was so intense, exhausting, all consuming, heavy with resposibility, fraught with anxiety about the littlest things, totally perspective changing, and scary but I know that this is never possible until you’ve lived through it. I remember trying to explain this to a non-parent who just replied – ‘Well you’re so lucky to have a kid. I think it would be great. What are you complaining about?’ It is amazing, but that’s the easy bit to understand.

rooeytoo's avatar

For some reason I am thinking about male ob-gyn’s as I read these answers. Really should males be allowed to do that job since they couldn’t possibly know???????

I do kind of sympathise though, I am a dog trainer but I constantly have to listen to people who have never had to deal with a killer dog telling me how clicker training and positive reinforcement can cure all canine ills. Until you are actually staring at the teeth of a pit bull as it is lunging at your throat, you just don’t have a clue!

I think too, this should be taken one step further, just because you have had a child, it doesn’t automatically make you an expert. So maybe a lot of parents shouldn’t offer opinions either, unless of course their child is perfect. And the perfection must be judged by a panel of impartial judges not related to the child in question.

SuperMouse's avatar

I just want to make clear, I am not bucking for any medals because I am a parent. Maybe that is something I want non-parents to know. I know I made the choice to have kids, So I’m not looking for kudos, sympathy, or unsolicited advice.

I will also be the first to admit that non-parents can and do know plenty about children. One of my greatest parenting influences was my boys’ pre-school teacher, who never had children of her own. She was truly gifted in dealing with pre-schoolers and having my children in her class was IMO learning at the feet of the master.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@rooeytoo : Your first comparison, apples and sofas. Your dog trainer reference, spot on. A non-parent asks us what we want non-parents to know. Most of us have been pretty clear about that, with a lot of emphasis on “please don’t give us unsolicited advice about what you think we’re doing wrong”. A lot of us have also said that we seek the advice of people (parents or not) who have expertise. Do you want random people whom you don’t know, or who you know to not have medical training insisting on giving you medical advice? Probably not. And it is different from being a non-parent, you can try to guess, but you won’t get it right. Any more than you can get it right imagining, when you’re 15, what it’s like to be 35. It’s just like that. Want to prove us wrong? Raise kids, come back and tell us we were wrong, you knew it all along. Nobody here asked for medals, @bob_ , but it is hard, probably because the emotional quotient is so high. Common sense, people, common sense.

rooeytoo's avatar

@JilltheTooth – You have missed an important part of what I am saying, just because people have a dog they have trained (or think they have trained) does not automatically make them any more informed or better at training than someone who has never had a dog. They may think they are experts because they have the experience but it ain’t necessarily so. And I think the same is true of parents. Not every parent is automatically an expert on child raising.

MissAusten's avatar

I think it’s kind of funny that someone asks a question of parents, the parents answer, and then the parents are accused of wanting a medal for what they do. Um, we didn’t start this party!

There are clearly many, many parents who shouldn’t be parents. Pushing out a baby doesn’t make someone an instant expert. There are things I did when my daughter was a baby that I changed by the time my boys came around because of what I learned or because they are different little people. I would never think I’m anywhere near perfect, but I can say my husband and I make the effort to do our best. We are both still learning all the time and we’ve been parents for almost 13 years now. Yikes. Which reminds me, I know nothing about being the parent of a teen.

Parents are like all other people. Some are lazy, some are overachievers, some are mean, stupid, smart, loving, selfish, whatever. I think it’s important to remember that a lot of people are assholes and some of them happen to be parents. Some dog owners are irresponsible. Some doctors are alcoholics. Some teachers are child molesters. Some cops are criminals. Some parents are dicks. If you were a teacher, cop, dog owner, or doctor, would you want to be lumped in with the worst representatives of your profession? Of course not. That’s why, as parents, we get defensive when kids are called brats and parents are lumped into a group with people who let babies cry in restaurants or complain when teachers give a bad grade that the child actually deserves or whatever other silly thing some parents do.

I’ve said this before here, but honestly, it seems like parents are the one group of people it’s OK to generalize about. If I started generalizing about homosexuals, atheists, black people, Wiccans, Mexicans, Democrats, Republicans (OK, it’s probably still acceptable to generalize about Republicans), women, cancer survivors, nuns, cat owners, or anyone else, 99% of Fluther would be up in arms against me.

JLeslie's avatar

@MissAusten I disagree with your last statement, no one on fluther is allowed to generalize about any group. I generalize a lot and it is always pointed out to me, even if I write from the get go, “some,” or, “I don’t think this of all,” and whatever other kind of phrase I can say to let people know I know not everyone in a group is the same. I never am thinking all anything or anyone, and I think most people don’t either. Every Q I have seen on parenting has opinions all over the map. All Q’s I have been on about parenting regarding kids acting up in public has parents and nonparents saying not to worry, we are not all judging you when your kid is screaming at the top of his lungs.

Maybe the parenting Q’s feel that way to you, because that is one of the things you consider to be one of your main identifiers? I could be wrong, just thinking out loud. For most parents it is up at the top, female, mom, American, Asian; or, whatever fits you, I am just rambling off some.

JilltheTooth's avatar

No, @rooeytoo , I didn’t really miss the point. The dog owner who thinks they know more than you, simply doesn’t have as much expertise as you. But the dog owner who may indeed be a seriously crappy dog trainer still knows more about owning dogs than the guy who has only ever had goldfish.

Coloma's avatar

I remember my ex SIL who has never had kids and is her mid-40’s now, trying to take the upper hand with my daughter a few times.
On one occasion she was very disapproving because I allowed my daughter, who was maybe 4–5 at the time, to have a blueberry muffin when she hadn’t finished her entire meal at a restaurant.

Um, excuse me, but, I don’t FORCE my child to clean her plate and she ate ENOUGH of the good stuff so, back off sister!

Sometimes. lol

jca's avatar

I have read things on other threads where people have said that parents should not go out with their children, should not go to restaurants with kids, and other ridiculousness. I think that if a child can behave reasonably well (sitting in seat for the most part, and if they get restless, which they do, parent takes a walk with them), it’s fine.

Before I had a child, I felt less tolerant of other kids. Now, the two things that annoy me about other people’s kids is when the parent takes them to a store, ignores them and the kids run wild around the store while the mother shops. The other thing is when people’s kids scream. Luckily my daughter does not scream or make screeching noises.

I wish other parents realized that one hard thing about being a parent is that, especially with small children, you are “on” 24 hours per day. So in the middle of the night, when they say “I have to go pee pee” you have to get up with them. When they dont’ want to go to bed, you have to deal with them. (I’m talking about preschool age, because that’s the age I have and admittedly, I have no other experience with children of my own other than this one). When they want dinner, you have to make it or obtain it. When they want to get dressed or take a bath, it’s all you. That is very hard and that’s why a parent is not always available for chats on the phone, lunches, etc. You really may not understand until you experience it 24/7.

nikipedia's avatar

So generalizing about parents is bad, but generalizing about non-parents—that we’re uninformed and our opinions mean less—is totally acceptable. I get it now.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@nikipedia : you asked what we’d like non-parents to understand. When we answer, you put words in our mouths, and argue all over town with what we say. I feel like I’ve been a bit set up here. Oh, silly me. Don’t I feel like a dope, now.

Done, here.

jca's avatar

I feel like I was invited to a party and then told that I was not welcome!

MissAusten's avatar

@JLeslie Maybe we aren’t reading the same parenting questions. Here are some statements taken directly from questions related to parenting. I’ve avoided using statements that were followed by “but I know not all parents do this” or some other disclaimer:
—————————————————————-

This is the idea that, if you really loved your children enough, you’d get over your own personal baggage and issues, admit that you are flawed just like all other human beings, and do some research into how best to parent a child instead of simply getting defensive every time someone thought perhaps you weren’t going to win the Parent of the Year award.

Why do parents let their kids run riot in pubs/restaurants? When I was a child, I never ran around, I stayed with my parents and behaved. Now, there are kids running everywhere, apart from being annoying, it’s dangerous, and the parents just seem blind to what is going on around them.

I just believe it is parents now, kids having kids, they obviously can’t control them.

These are the same people who won’t ever spank their kids because they, themselves, were spanked. “We have to let the special snowflakes express their individuality! We don’t want to repress their essential personhood!” etc. These are the same kids that they let lick the belt and wail on the floor at the grocery store. Eww.

Parents no longer allow their children to suffer the consequences.

I can never understand why people with children try to impose and inflict their children on others. At a restaurant where the waitress/er brings the food to you, one should not have to listen to a kid screaming. That crap about people having rights to bring their kids out in public is a cop out.

It seems to me that parents now are more concerned with being friends with their kids, or being the cool parents, than disciplining them. Couple that with a total disregard for the feelings of and lack of respect for other people that has been increasing in our society over the last few generations, and you’ve got yourself some hell raising kids and parents who are too quick to turn that mute button on in their heads.

Parents are 100% responsible for their children’s behavior. A great deal of what is wrong with children today is that parents have been given to many excuses to fall back on for the way their children act.

I’m asserting that part of the sacrifice you make for being a parent includes the dirty looks you get when the choice you made (parenthood) inconveniences someone else.

Parents are perhaps the most selfish class of people out there, maybe even worse than SUV drivers and Libertarian Party members.

Is there any way to get parents to show more respect for those around them?

I suspect that the parents I see with howling children are just poor parents who are raising spoiled, selfish, little bourgeois mini-yuppies just like themselves who will yowl and whine for the rest of their lives and neither possess, nor ever feel any need to possess, self-control.

I just think this is another example of special treatment for parents and pregnant women.

Maybe there should be a section of the plane, restaurant, theater, etc. devoted to parents with small children. That way parents would be with others who are facing the same situation and other folks who have paid full fare and have the right to expect an enjoyable and peaceful experience without someone kicking the back of their seat or being abusive in any way would be happy as well.

“beast-child” is accurate based on the description of the behavior and discomfort level it causes. I call it as I see it.
—————————————————————-

Just do a search for parenting, brats, sprog, kids, whatever, and it’s very easy to find many such examples.

Also, I think @JilltheTooth is spot-on in her most recent quip above. No one said non-parents are uninformed or have opinions that mean less, just that non-parents who aren’t professionals or experienced with children aren’t as likely to spend the same amount of time researching or learning about topics related to parenting. And yet, suddenly those words are twisted into something else. It reminds me of a time when I said I wouldn’t immediately leave the theater if I had my kids at a kids’ movie and they sometimes forgot to whisper or laughed out loud at something funny on the screen. A couple of people referred to me saying I wouldn’t remove a screaming kid from a movie theater, which is not at all the same thing.

janbb's avatar

A lot of energy here. I think each “side” feels attacked and on the defensive. Personally, I don’t think parents or non-parents have a monopoly on empathy, tolerance or good judgment.

nikipedia's avatar

@MissAusten, perhaps this was a miscommunication, but I took some of Jill’s comments to mean exactly that (non-parents are uninformed or have opinions that mean less).

When it comes to issues that directly relate to their childrens health, yes, they are definitely more likely to research things more thoroughly than non-parents will research things related to childrens health. In general, not counting the scientists and specialists.

I am sure there are many non-parents who are uninformed, but by the same token, there are plenty of parents who are equally uninformed, and non-parents who are well-informed.

I really am just suggesting that we not generalize about either group.

I’m a scientist, but my work has nothing to do with parenting, so for this purpose I would consider myself a layperson and non-expert. And I still consider many of my opinions (pertaining to child-rearing and parenting) to be well-informed and meaningful. I would like for them not to be dismissed out of hand solely because I am not a parent.

Let me give again the example of vaccinations, which I thought was a good one—there is no reason one needs to be a parent to have an informed opinion on that.

JLeslie's avatar

@MissAusten I am one of the more understanding people I think about diffulculties with parenting and how children can act up even with the best of parents. The majority of the quotes you have listed you should read as pertaining the parents it fits. When someone says, “I can never understand why people with children try to impose and inflict their children on others. At a restaurant where the waitress/er brings the food to you, one should not have to listen to a kid screaming. That crap about people having rights to bring their kids out in public is a cop out.” Which I agree is stated in an obnoxious way. If your children are behaved in a restaurant, it does not apply to you. My guess is a parent might make the same complaint, that when they are out for their $100 a couple three course meal with their husband, finally a night away from the kids, they don’t want to have a bunch of kids screaming around them. You have probaby heard the saying, “I don’t like other people’s kids.” I personally don’t like the saying. I just see it as people complaining and commenting on the negative things they witness, not all parents. I am making a blanket statement that does not quite fit all your examples, but I doubt you want me to go one by one.

On a plane I would never be upset with a parent who has a crying baby. I feel badly for the mommy and the baby. But, when I am in a restaurant if a child is making a lot of noise for more than a few minutes, the parent should leave with the child. Just my opinion. It isn’t black and white to me. I don’t get why parents think it is ok to disturb someones peaceful enjoyment in an expensive restaurant that has a certain ambiance, but I can honestly say it has never happened to me. I have never witnessed children out of control at an expensive restaurant, and if for some reason they do get upset or impatient, the parents have always taken care of it. I don’t know where all these people are that have all this bad luck around children. I was eating at Chili’s the other day and there were tons of children, and it was noisy, but it was lunch, none of them were screaming or running around, it’s Chili’s, it’s ok.

When children were running around in the store I worked, especially when I worked by the escalators, does cause me to judge the parent if they think it is just fine, because it is unsafe, and they better not look at me cross eyed when I tell their children to not play by the escalator. Most parents said, “I told you not to do that, now you have been told by her too, stop it.” But, a few seemed upset I directly addressed her kids. Tough shit. First, it is a safety issue. Second it is a job requirement of mine. Does the parent maybe take it as I am questioning their parenting, probably the ones wo seem offended do. I don’t think the other ones do.

I think it is just a communications issue, and people are misunderstood or don’t deliver their comment well.

In summary, generally, I don’t think either “side” means everyone or all usually. Sure there are some people who do, but I think it is the minority.

MissAusten's avatar

@nikipedia I would see the use of things like “more likely” and “in general” to convey the idea that those statements don’t apply to all non-parents. Kind of like someone who has a pet rabbit is more likely to research topics related to rabbit care than someone who does not have a pet rabbit. It doesn’t mean I’d ignore someone who doesn’t have a rabbit or treat them badly and it doesn’t mean there aren’t rabbit owners who picked up their pet without ever learning about it.

I also don’t think parents saying they don’t want unsolicited advice means they’d automatically dismiss your advice because you don’t have a kid. If my best friend who is childless offers some parenting advice, I’d treat it differently than I’d treat advice from a random person at the grocery store. Or, the way I’d treat advice from an overbearing, childless relative (my sister-in-law, argh) who insists on giving pretty horrible advice constantly. So just because us parents are ranting about unsolicited advice after being asked for our opinions doesn’t mean we are commenting directly on your advice or your opinions.

@JLeslie I am happy to let you give people the benefit of the doubt. Some people don’t communicate well, and some people are just assholes. ;)

JLeslie's avatar

@MissAusten I agree, some are just assholes.

MissAusten's avatar

And just to cover all the bases, some people are mediocre and some people are awesome.

rooeytoo's avatar

@JilltheTooth -So you think a dog owner automatically “still knows more about owning dogs than the guy who has only ever had goldfish” if that is true then there are a lot of academics who according to your evaluation, couldn’t possibly be as knowledgeable as they think they are.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I’m not a parent but I have enjoyed reading this thread. I can’t help but wonder, and I hope I will get some honest answers, how many of you parents have judged another person’s parenting skills? Even if, just in your mind, you did a little happy dance that your kid is way better behaved than so-and-so’s kid. Having read the Santa thread that this question was inspired by, I can think of a few people that are probably judgemental of others parenting skills.

Also, I have to say, after reading this thread I am even more sure that I don’t want children. I am already tired all the time, I don’t want to be even more tired all the time. I don’t want to deal with other people’s dissaproving looks when my kid throws a hissy fit in a restaurant and I don’t want to be scared that something bad is going to happen to someone so precious to me (I am already terrified of losing certain loved ones and it’s the worst kind of fear I have ever felt).

janbb's avatar

@Leanne1986 I would never try to change anyone’s mind about this but the rewards are incredible! Particularly now that mine are grown. :-P

OpryLeigh's avatar

@janbb I have no doubt about that but the idea of it scares the shit out of me!!!

wundayatta's avatar

@Leanne1986 I do judge. I don’t know if that is wrong, although a lot of people seem to think it is. I judge and I wonder if those kids were mine, would they still behave that same way?

Maybe we’re not supposed to judge lest we be judged. I could say that I’d put my kids and parenting techniques up against anyone else’s, but I don’t think this is a competition. I think we are all on the same side, but we just want to help and we know we can’t.

Because in our society, whether or not it takes a village, we aren’t allowed to touch anyone else’s kid. Hell, we’re barely even allowed to touch our own kids. But we are all so individualistic and we want to keep it that way. Our kids are one of the few things that we have (almost) sovereign authority over.

Before I was a parent, I was afraid of children. I was afraid because I knew I would interact with them differently from most people. I would interact as if they were real people, not my property. Most people, I thought, don’t see it that way. They expect kids to do what they tell them.

So I was afraid to interact with kids because I didn’t think I had authority over them and I was afraid that if I talked to them like real people, I would say things that their parents did not want said.

Once I had my own kids, I was free to treat them like people. I have sovereign authority over them and I can give up that authority if I want. Anyone who thinks this is a stupid idea only has to meet my kids to see that they haven’t turned into wanton, self-righteous, pompous assholes who think they rule the world.

Because I treat them like people, they can take no for an answer without throwing a tantrum. They have been this way from a very early age. The twos were not terribly in my household. I kept waiting for it to happen, but it didn’t. Or maybe it did, but it never bothered me.

I’m sure people do judge me. They think I’m a idiot for believing what I believe. For never touching them in anger or for discipline. For answering their every “why” question and outlasting them all. For teaching them how not to scream at high pitches and destroy everyone’s ears within 500 feet. (So much fun to see them competing to see who can scream at the lowest pitch).

So yes. I judge others. I’m willing to be judged. It doesn’t matter. Except for fluther, where it doesn’t really matter since I don’t really know anyone, I keep my judgments to myself. I fully expect to be judged here. It’s all right.

So what’s the big deal?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I agree with @janbb. Sure, my children have bad days and I feel like beating my head against the wall… but they also have fabulous days, where they’ve been extra creative or done something really thoughtful, or said something so sweet that I’ve teared up with pride and joy. Like every parent out there, I have those “Oh crap, what have I done?” moments, but I love my kiddos fiercely, and honestly could not imagine my life without them!

Not to say that kids are just the bestest thing ever and everyone should go out and get one right now (because some people should not procreate)… but I really feel (and I’m sure some other parents would agree) that you can know joy in your life with many things that have nothing to do with kids, but you won’t feel the same joy that parents feel, the intense, glowing, truly awesome joy that comes from watching your children grow. There’s nothing else like it!

OpryLeigh's avatar

@wundayatta I wish we’d get over this hang up that it’s wrong to judge. It’s natural to judge and we all do it in all kinds of situations. Those that say they don’t judge are deluded! It’s how you act on those judgemental thoughts that determine whether you are a decent person pr not.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Let’s just go back to arguing over god/no god, k? :)

jca's avatar

I judge other parents sometimes. I’ll think, thank God my daughter doesn’t act that way, or I would never let her act that way, or if someone is too strict with their kid I’ll think that I don’t know why the parent is making a big deal out of this, it’s not that serious. On the other hand, I will admire the way someone treats their child, and I’ll say to myself “I should learn from this person and try to emulate this.” Luckily, my daughter is pretty good (some say it’s because I am a pretty laid back parent, but I am not sure if it’s just luck or if it’s because I’m laid back and flexible). She can sit and focus, she does not run around wild, and she’s a nice kid who shares and is not mean or huffy.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Leanne1986 I do judge other parents, of course. But I also know which situations to take a much less judgmental approach than non-parents. In both cases it’s because I’ve been there.

Bellatrix's avatar

@Leanne, good question. I think you used an important word in your post ‘judged’ and that is the crux of the issue I have with much of the unsolicited and uninformed advice I have an issue with (more on that in a moment though).

To specifically answer your question, I had an experience when I had very young children than taught me a big lesson about judging other parents. I had two little girls who liked to play with Barbie dolls and were, in the main, fairly quiet, serene little people. My friend and neighbour had two little boys of the same age as my girls. They used to come to play. When they entered my house, any serenity and peace left. They were loud, raucous and ran everywhere. Their behaviour was totally different to that of my daughters. I would sometimes cringe and yes, judge my friend and neighbour on her poor parenting skills. Her children were actually lovely little boys but I did wonder “Could she not quieten them down?” “Make them sit still?” “Why can’t she control their behaviour!” Then I had my son. Who also ran everywhere and said nothing in a quiet voice. He was loud, boisterous and a very normal little boy. I learned a lesson. Her children were not my children. They were individuals and they were different. Her parenting style was different to mine but that didn’t make her a poor parent. She was parenting in her way and in a way that suited her children and her family.

Over the years the lesson of not to judge other parents has been reinforced time and time again. If I ever have fallen into the trap of judging, I have usually been given a sharp lesson by my own children not too long after to remind me not to be smug and self-satisfied. Parenting is not an exact science, I don’t know of any ‘experts’ and most parents are doing the best they can. Not always doing a great job, but the best they can and rather than judge I should look to my own backyard. Not saying I never do it. Of course I do. I often think of this early experience when I do though.

As to uninformed and unsolicited advice, I think @SuperMouse is absolutely correct. There are non-parents who have valuable and insightful advice to offer. They may be teachers and other people who work with children, those who cared for siblings, academics who have studied specific areas of child development/family behaviour/problems and medical staff or others with specific knowledge. What is not so welcome is the uninformed judgement, often posturing as advice, from people who really do not have any valid experience or knowledge but just think they know better than the parent working with that individual child. That
advice is not so welcome or helpful.

MissAusten's avatar

I think it’s impossible to never judge others. When I catch myself doing it, I make an effort to stop. From working in daycare for several years and being a parent myself, I’ve seen so many hugely different parenting styles and personalities (both children and adults). I’ve been in situations where I thought something about a family and later learned things that caused me to reevaluate my opinions. When I start to have those judgmental thoughts, I remind myself to mentally shut up and mind my own damn business.

And for the record, I’m happy to disregard the advice of other parents, parenting experts, and pediatricians if I don’t think their advice suits our family. There’s no need to be rude in such a situation, I just nod and smile and say thank you and then go about my merry way. Just because my mother-in-law, for example, raised two children doesn’t mean I’m going to take her advice, especially when she throws out gems like, “If you were a smoker, you could smoke when you’re pregnant and then your babies wouldn’t be so big.” No, she wasn’t kidding.

I’m an equal-opportunity advice ignorer!

JLeslie's avatar

Disclaimer: I have been known to say, “she needs to have some kids so she can see how hard it is.” I say this usually about people who are incredibly judgemental about their own parents. Sometimes I say it when nonparents are being very judgemental of a parent and I think they are too harsh.

SuperMouse's avatar

I try not to judge too harshly, but of course I do judge at times. I began my career as a parent with the boys @Bellatrix describes. They have been loud and boisterous from the jump. I grew up with three big brothers who wrestled constantly and since that kind of play doesn’t frighten or intimidate me, I have never worked hard to stop it (at home or maybe a park; when the time and place are inappropriate I put the kibosh on it), I am sure plenty of people judge me for that. I try to remember that most parents really do want to do right by their kids and sometimes their toolbox may have a different array of tools than mine. All of my high-minded thoughts go out the window though when a parent is too busy or distracted to even notice Junior about to run into the parking lot or and this actually happened standing at the top of the play equipment at the park pissing on the children below. I also have no patience for parents who encourage their child’s obnoxious behavior is because they think it is “cute.”

Blondesjon's avatar

@SuperMouse . . . I also have no patience for parents who encourage their child’s obnoxious behavior is because they think it is “cute.”

hey! my mom resembles that remark!

Bellatrix's avatar

With my post up there, I only have issues once. Not twice as written.

rooeytoo's avatar

Well I’ll soon find out again, our “adopted” child (now 18) who was given to us by his father on several occasions is returning to us. Should be interesting! He will be removed completely from his country, his family and most bad influences (since my husband and I don’t drink, smoke and only swear when it is warranted). We do however have a weakness for mango sorbet and dark chocolate. I am checking on how to get him into some sort of school because his literacy is woeful. He is very bright however and perhaps we can get some sort of job for him. A mother at 67, I better start running more to get in shape.

wundayatta's avatar

MANGO AND DARK CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!

You are not fit to parent a lemming, much less an 18 year old boy!!!!! God forbid he should ever enjoy something that tastes good!!! Give me your address!!! He needs somebody to rescue him right now!!! In the name of all that is wholy and mushy!!!

rooeytoo's avatar

heheheh, they are pretty terrible vices, are they not. Poor kid, he has no idea what lies in wait for him!

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