On Parenting Advice from the Non-Parent
And remembering my own hubris with a list of things I said I’d never do.
I heard something recently when someone made a blanket statement about a parenting practice and dressed it up as fact, even though it was more of an opinion.
I’ll be honest – the particular parenting practice that the person was talking about is not one I subscribe to at all. In fact, I can’t imagine anything worse for me than following this particular practice. However, something about the presentation of the statement made me uncomfortable.
Interestingly, the individual who made the statement isn’t a parent.
I think maybe the fact that this person isn't a parent but speaking out about parenting issues is what was initially so odd to me. I wouldn't write about say, motorcycle repair. Or even about the life of a single person nowadays. I would never presume to know.
So is it that this person was talking with authority on something she knew nothing about that bugged me? Was it the disguising of opinion as fact that was bothering me? Or was it that I could hear echoes of my own past uninformed idiocy in her statement?
Because I remember, before I had kids, either saying or thinking the following:
- I will never bribe my kids with food/candy.
- I will never use TV as a “babysitter” for the kids while I nap on the couch next to them.
- I will never give in at the check-out line and buy some toy that the kids are whining for. I will stand firm and not be embarrassed by their screeching and tears and I won’t buy that piece of plastic crap just to get out of the store with my dignity still intact.
- I will still care about my dignity.
- I won’t go out in public with spit-up down my back and unwashed hair. I will still care what I look like in my expensive designer clothes and I’ll be a hot mamma because I’ll still dress like one.
- I will never drive around with my car trashed with food, paper, tissues and kid junk.
- I will never have a plastic toilet in my car. Or even anywhere in my possession for that matter.
- I will never do the "Bill Cosby" and give them chocolate cake for breakfast.
- I will answer all of the endless “why” questions honestly and appropriately. I won’t simply give up in annoyance after the 50th one and say, “Just BECAUSE, that’s why.”
- I will never stick my finger in another person’s nose.
I hope I only thought these things, not said them out loud, especially to people who actually were already parents.
And just to round out the list, here are two things (YES, only TWO) that I said I’d never do, and proudly I have not done them. Yet.
- Spit-clean. Need I say more?
- Eat out of the baby food jar. You’ve seen it…one bite for you, one bite for Mommy.
That’s not to say these things won’t ever happen (although as I don’t have babies any more I sincerely hope we can just cross no. two off the list).
So my advice, from experience? These things come back and bite you in the you-know-what. Especially if you say them out loud.