How to Deal with Other Parents

June 27, 2011 at 10:00 pm Leave a comment

There’s one topic they never cover in the childbirth classes: how to deal with other parents. When you bring your little munchkin home, you’re also entering the larger parenting community, a place filled with crazy, judgemental people, strangers who will stop you on a daily basis and berate you for doing it all wrong.

At least that’s the claim in Why Everyone’s a Parenting Expert.  In fact, this parental shame onslaught is actually worse in the summer: “With summer here and kids at home, there’s a whole new set of parenting decisions that other parents (and even non-parents) feel obligated to judge.”  The article is filled with some real tear-jerker moments, like when one mom doesn’t want to let her kid play in the dirt.  A warning:  what you are about to read might make you angry, so stop now if you are prone to high blood pressure.  You ready?  Okay, here’s the dirt-a-phobe mom, who has refused to let her son take off his shoes and frolick like the other kids, in her own words:

“I kept saying no until another mom said, ‘Just let the kid get dirty.’ I literally wanted to punch her.”

Wait, that’s the huge judgment being heaped on today’s parents?  “Just let the kid get dirty?”  That’s the phrase that proves any old stranger will call into question your parenting technique?

I’m sorry, but if the hardest thing about parenting for you is when another parent verbalizes a difference in opinion regarding playground cleanliness, then you’re really living the good life.  You can make it through labor and childbirth (or adoption paperwork, also painful!) but you don’t know how to deal with a slightly inappropriate comment?

I’m not saying it isn’t annoying to have strangers make unsolicited comments, but I’m not sure that reacting with such anger is warranted.  (I’m assuming the author didn’t literally actually punch the other woman.)  Instead, she should have brushed off the remark with humor, diffusing the situation and avoiding getting arrested for assault.

The article goes on to document other ways parents are besieged with judgement, such as the “internet criticism” Gwyneth Paltrow has received for piercing her 5-year-old’s ears, or the “firestorm” (good choice of words) about the Canadian family keeping their child, Storm’s, gender a secret.  I can really relate, since I am also married to a member of the band, Coldplay, and I, too, kept my child’s gender a secret (until he was born and we found out what he was.)

Whatever your situation, when it comes from other parents getting all up in your business, use humor as your weapon of choice:

Annoying parent: Just let the kid get dirty.  You: I would, but he’s getting over a case of hookworm from last time he played here…

Annoying parent: I can’t believe you let your young daughter get her ears pierced!  You: She was going to get her tongue pierced but the pacifier was in the way.

Annoying parent: It’s strange to try to raise a genderless child.  You: Well, we were going to raise him. . .whoops, I mean it, not him.  He’s not a. . . darn, that didn’t last long.

And my stock response, whenever anyone comments on how little my son is: “Yes, I wrap him tightly in bandages each night to keep him from growing so he’ll always be my little baby.”

That one is sure to stop them in their tracks.  And make them back away slowly.

Problem solved!

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Entry filed under: parenting advice, parents these days. Tags: , , , .

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