As soon as you let the word out that you’re pregnant you suddenly find out that you’re living in a world full of experts. Who knew? From the cashier at Dunkin Donuts to a random shopper in the mall to a fellow commuter, everyone around you suddenly sheds their Clark Kent suit and tie for a cape and some spandex.
They will be your hero, baby (sorry I can’t resist an obscure Enrique Iglesias reference). They will bestow upon you the golden nuggets of parenting advice that you are lacking. And more than half of the time it will be bullshit.
If I ask for your advice or tips for dealing with a particular subject, that’s one thing. But people who walk up to strangers to let them know exactly what they’re doing wrong in their child rearing drive me insane.
The worst of these people are the passive aggressive jerks who walk up to you and speak to your child about what you’re doing wrong. “Where are your socks, young lady? You’re going to catch a cold!” Thanks, jerk wad. I threw them under the stroller after she removed them from her feet for the five hundredth time and threw them on the floor. Also, the last time I checked, mall management didn’t forget to pay their oil bill. Oh, and one last thing. You might want to head back to high school biology to learn how the whole getting sick thing works.
Then there was the time that the woman walked up to us on the sidewalk and asked my infant where her hat was before lecturing me about the fact that it was my fault my child would have Parkinson’s Disease because the oils on her scalp were frying her brain…. Yeah. You can’t make this shit up.
There are also well meaning people who tell you exactly how you should deal with your children, when they know nothing about your kids, their personalities or any of the thousands of other factors that could effect them and their behavior. People are always telling me, for instance, to just put my girls to bed earlier so they won’t get up so early in the morning.
Thanks, friend. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again. While it might work for some kids, my girls’ internal clocks are not set to how many hours of sleep they get but by the sun. They can go to bed at 10 o’clock but when the slightest hint of light peeks over the horizon, they will wake up. And they will be cranky because they need more sleep.
A lot of these people mean well (I could totally be guilty of doing this without realizing it). A lot of them just want to puff their chest and show you how smart they are. And a lot of them are dumb.
Here’s the thing. When it comes to parenting, hardly anything is one size fits all. It can’t be. Different kids have different personalities and you have to approach them about things differently. You don’t approach all adults the same way when you’re trying to get something from them, do you? Some need to be coddled, some need straight talk, others need to feel in control. It’s the same with kids. They’re not all the same, so your parenting style might have to bend a bit for each of them.
My girls couldn’t be more different. The little bean looks like a clone of her big sister but the similarities pretty much stop there. Samantha likes rules and structure. She thrives on a routine. The little one? She’s a wild card. She laughs in the face of rules. How could I possibly approach them both from the same angle and expect positive results?
Samantha needs to be told the rules and she feels good about following them. Ellie needs to feel like she has some control and wiggle room. She does better if she’s given options. She doesn’t need to know that I approve of both options and couldn’t care less which she chooses. She just needs to know she has some power.