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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm just gonna keep my mouth shut . . .

It seems (to me at least) that once we've done something one time, we're suddenly experts on it.  And, we want to share our knowledge with the world - whether they want it or not.  Bought a house? You're now an expert on house buying.  Tiled a bathroom?  You could start your own tiling business.  Been to the doctor?  You can now diagnose a wide variety of diseases.  Went to school?  You now know all there is to know about education and teaching.  But, nothing is worse than when it comes to parenting.  If you've had a child, you know everything there is to know about child-rearing, and you'll gladly inform others as to exactly what they're doing wrong.

You see it's hard for us to keep our opinions to ourselves because we want everyone to think and feel the same way that we do.  It's hard not to tell your friend that it's probably a really bad idea to buy a new car right before she quits her job to attend graduate school.  It's hard not to speak up when someone overreacts to an off-handed comment their mother made.  It's hard not to mention to someone that they should probably be nicer to and more appreciative of the people that go out of their way to help them out.

The fact of the matter is, however, that it's really none of my business.  Just because something seems logical to me doesn't mean it is logical to someone else.  And, even if I wholeheartedly disagree with a choice someone is making, it's not my place to say anything (unless they are hurting themselves or someone else)- especially when my opinion is unsolicited.  It's not my choice; it's not my life; it's not my business.

But, it's especially hard not to intervene in the parenting methods of others.

I hate nothing more then when I am scolding Gavin, and ten other people are yelling at him at the same time.  I get defensive, and I usually say something like, "I can handle this, thank you."  To me, it's an insult.  I feel pretty capable of parenting my child, and I parent him on a daily basis, so the one time you're around, I don't need you to help me discipline my child.  I got it.  It drives me absolutely insane.

Once, someone laughed at me while I disciplined Gavin.  They said, "I just can't take you seriously when you try to be authoritative."  Well, that doesn't help me.  And it doesn't help my kid to see you laughing when I'm punishing him.  So, why don't you just keep that to yourself.

The problem is that I'm also a hypocrite.  You see, when I see someone's kid throwing food all over the floor and spitting it out on the table while the parent messes around on a cell phone (oblivious to all that is happening), I really want to put that kid in a timeout (and slap the parent at the same time).  When I see other children misbehaving, I have the overwhelming desire to discipline them, especially when I feel that the parents aren't taking appropriate action (and by "appropriate" I mean what I think they should do).  Because, you see, I've managed to keep my child alive almost four years now, so I must be a Super Expert Parent.

Just the other day, I put my sister's kid in timeout for supposedly hitting her sister.  My sister was right in the room while I just charged in and took over.  I have to give her credit for not killing me because I might have killed her had the roles been reversed.  As soon as I did it, I thought, "Oh god.  I can't believe I just did that.  I would've have flipped out if she had done that."  

So, I'm going to vow (and try really hard) to just keep my mouth shut when it comes to other people's children - unless my advice is solicited.  If it's not my child, and it's not directly affecting my child, it's not my business.  I parent the way I choose to parent, and I expect people to respect that.  Consequently, I need to respect other people's parenting choices whether I agree with them or not.  I'm going to try to get down off of my high horse and "live and let live."  Wish me luck!


  1. Totally agree. It's hard not to jump in and help when you think someone is making a huge mistake, but then again, nothing is more infuriating than when someone tries to discredit your ways. It's one thing to seek advice and be told to do something in a certain way. It's another thing entirely to be made to feel inadequate without prompting it.

  2. Good luck! We all should work on keeping our mouths shut, about one thing or another, whether it isn't our business or just isn't ... helpful or kind.

  3. This is a great rule! It's so hard to do though, when I see a kid acting out I suddenly come over all 'it takes a village'. But I'd never undermine the parent. In my imaginary world of perfectness.

  4. I couldn't agree more!! I really, really hate this type of thing. Why, just the other day on a BLOG, someone wrote about their child's poor behavior at the store. It was a funny post and not meant to solicit advice, but someone of course left a comment on exactly what that mother should have done etc... When I left my comment I wanted to address the other commenter!! Ha! But I didn't. I just don't understand this advice-giving mentality. Drives me nuts!

    When someone starts a sentence with, "you really need to.." or "You should..." I want to run for the hills!

    Then again....I'm sure I give my preschool teacher advice to young mothers way too often :-)

  5. You have came to the best conclusion. As lond as it involves someone else's kids, you'd better stay out of it. Much better!