I think I heard a mom say it on Oprah, how parents tend to be hypercritical of other parents. At that time, Kaya was quite small, so I hadn’t seen the full extent to which she meant.
Now, several times a week, I get an unasked for assessment of what I am doing wrong.
A few minutes ago, our neighbor’s friend ( who I have never seen before) started staring at my daughter. She then remarked at how Kaya should be wearing shoes, as the ground was too hot. I took my shoes off, touched it, and exhibited that it was in fact quite cool; the sky was obviously cloudy, the sun was hiding. She had not said hi to me, introduced herself, or anything, she just made a negative comment. A few days before this, we took an impromptu tour of a nearby yoga study. My husband went into one room with Kaya, where a baby was playing with a nanny or someone who had volunteered to look after him while his mom was in class. She snapped at my husband ‘she needs to be changed’. She had just started going to the bathroom, and we are not accustomed to stopping her in the middle of her bowl movement to change her. We wait until she is finished.
Again, this was a complete stranger, who did not know us, nor had any right to point out the obvious, as she is not the parent. This example may sound trivial, but how many times have you had someone tell you what you should be doing with your kids, or what you are doing wrong? Now compare that to when strangers point out how good you are as a parent. I had one friend call these people ‘concerned trolls’, and I call it ‘backseat parenting’. It is not helpful, often irritating or insulting, and is a form of ego gratification to the person who is ‘ just trying to help’.
No, they aren’t.
I have had this happen to me no matter where I have lived, and the way in which the ‘advice’ is delivered from the people is always negative and sometimes flat out mean. Unless your kid is in danger or hurt and you are unaware of it, these comments are beyond unnecessary. One family member told me her daughter was approached when she was in a supermarket and told her that the child needed a kleanex. I mean, seriously? A stranger feels superior and aware enough to approach someone they don’t know and instruct them on that? Not cool. And way , WAY too frequent.
Now, this even goes further, to criticism about one’s parenting style. But if you are alternative or attachment parenting, or doing something more mainstream, your still a target for ‘you-should-be-doing-this’. The latter may receive more, and those ( like me) who let their kid walk around naked or in a diaper are like a free for all for those who need to exert their superiority in parenting.
Why does this happen? Because the ego loves to defend and enhance itself, especially in the parenting arena. And we need to become aware of it, and stop doing it, as well as to vocalize to the person doing it that it is not needed. I am not saying you should bitch slap them. I am saying you can let them know that you are OK and don’t need any help or advice. I know personally if I need advice or assistance, I turn towards the parenting community that I personally value the opinions of, and who are respectful or my feelings and ways of doing things. I think most of us avoid asking people who are arrogant or don’t understand our parenting style.
Parenting is a hard game, and each family is totally different. One is not better then the other. None of us need to have more criticism then we already give ourselves. If anything, we need praise, not to enhance our egos but to let us feel comfortable being ourselves.