It’s very easy as a parent to get caught up in what other people think about the way you are doing your job. The smallest comment from strangers can reduce us to a crumpled mess of self-doubt.
“Maybe I SHOULD wean him off the pacifier.”
“Is she right? Should I be worried that he doesn’t know how old he is?”
“Is it really so cold out that I’m endangering my child by not putting a coat on her?”
Sure, we make mistakes, because we are human, and being a parent is a very human thing to do. But maybe we know that our child having a pacifier at his age is completely OK. And maybe we know that our son doesn’t know how old he is, but he is developmentally on track. And perhaps our daughter doesn’t have a coat on because it simply wasn’t worth the tantrum.
In general, most people’s opinions on our parenting shouldn’t matter. Though it can still hurt to hear you tell me that I’m not doing a good job, I can remind myself that if you fit any or all of the following descriptions, what you think of what I’m doing should not hold much water:
1. You’re not my husband.
2. You’re not my mom.
3. You’re not my doctor.
4. You’re not my kids’ doctor.
5. You’re not even a doctor at all.
6. Your advice was unsolicited.
7. You don’t know my kids.
8. You don’t know me.
9. Your situation is totally different from mine.
10. Your “solution” has been tried and failed miserably.
11. Your “solution” sounds boring.
12. Your “solution” sounds like it takes work, and I don’t want to do it.
13. You’re a lot braver on your keyboard than I bet you are in person.
14. You haven’t actually listened to what I had to say and instead caught a keyword and launched into a rant.
15. You have terrible grammar, and I can’t understand what you wrote or said.
16. You have terrible grammar, and even though I can understand what you wrote or said, I can’t stop laughing at you.
17. You started your opinion by calling me a name.
18. You stated your opinion in a condescending tone.
Of course, there are exceptions to these. If my child is in danger, I want to know. Someone I marginally know is aware that my 85 percent of my daughter’s diet comes from pouches. That person warned me right away when a recall for what my daughter calls “the green pouch” was issued. That’s advice that is totally welcome, no matter where it comes from.
I also see a lot of Facebook posts alerting parents that they may have incorrectly buckled their children into a car seat. Yes, it is totally OK to butt in under those circumstances.
However, if you are a stranger in the grocery store who is “shocked” that my son’s hair would be so long, or an Internet commenter who thinks I’m “attention-seeking” for breastfeeding my daughter in public, I really don’t care what you think. Save your energy – lord knows we parents can use every ounce of energy we can get.