Other People’s Parenting

danger other peoples parenting ahead

I’m about to get super judgy, but let’s have at it: other people’s parenting. Yep, I’m about to go there. Today I was driving when I happened to notice a woman struggling to pull a child from the back seat of a car. Not on the curb-side, but the-cars-are-whizzing by side. Ugh, other people’s parenting. And then, during a holiday concert all I could hear was a screaming infant. Who does that? You know it, other people’s parenting. Or, the big kid clobbering the toddlers on the playground and going UP the slide. Where is this kid’s parent?

I’ve been judged as a parent. Once a woman came up to me while I was shopping to tell me that my daughter was too far away. The implication: she could be snatched in the women’s dress department of Macy’s. The likelihood of a “predator” bending and searching under the dresses? Zilch. But there it was nonetheless: other people’s parenting.

There is the right way to parent (our way) and the wrong way (not how we would do it). Of course my kid never clobbered toddlers. And she definitely was never a screaming infant. She also has a permanent halo and always says “please” and “thank you.”

Riiight.

I once had a friend who would let her children run up and down the aisles of restaurants. It would send my other people’s parenting into a full blown panic attack. My friend was adamant that restaurants were for adults and not children, so why even bother correcting them. The fact that we were in a restaurant when she said this was completely lost on her. Meanwhile, I was up and down every 30 seconds making sure a waitress didn’t lose a limb after tripping over one of her kids. Of course that friendship ended. 

But more times than not, I let other people’s parenting slide and give a smile rather than the stink eye. It’s what I would have wanted as a young mother at 21. Screaming child? I try not to look or, if I can, help out without being a nuisance. If there’s a mother taking an incredibly long time at the checkout counter? I actually wait.   

There are times when other people’s parenting crosses the line. Like the time this summer when a neighbor screamed at my daughter and her friends for being kids. There was cursing too. I left a note at the house with my number and my name. The call back I received was more of the same: blaming children and belligerent behavior. That house, to say the least, is off limits and we’ve labeled the family as absolutely insane. We skipped it during our trick-or-treating around the block.

You know we’re serious when we turn down candy.

Mostly I’ve found that other people’s parenting is off limits. I wouldn’t pull my daughter out of the backseat with cars whizzing by and that’s all I have to worry about. The rest of it? That’s their problem. 

What do you think?

Other People’s Parenting

Liz Henry is the irreverent voice behind the award-winning blog The Six Year Itch. She lives with her daughter and her partner, Slasher, in Philadelphia. That's not his real name and that's not her real hair color. Her soft middle is totally real. Liz graduated summa cum lazy with a degree in English literature, which means she knows how to write properly, but rarely does. She loves Harry Potter and Luna is her favorite. ... More

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