Earlier today I had a small run in with someone over some unsolicited and downright cruel parenting advice. Someone who could not accept that they simply do not know the daily ins and outs of parenting, as they are not one. Someone who got quite rude actually. This was my point….
Nothing prepares you for having kids, like having kids.
It is a lived experience that no book or movie or well meaning friend can fully capture or prepare you for.
So why then, do some child free people feel they have to constantly defend their position as also knowing what it’s like by staunchly stating they do know and telling you how to parent your child? It’s OK, it’s 100% completely OK to not know. You know what? Before I had Smushy I thought I knew too. I was a teacher, I had worked in Child Care since I was 15, I had nieces and nephews and years of babysitting experience. Was gonna be a walk in the park, yeah?
Man, I thought I knew and I said it.
Actually, I was a smug asshole who watched kids having tantrums and thought about how I wouldn’t react the way that mother did. I was going to present my child with vegetables and insist she ate them. I was going to be so strict about sleeping and she was going to sleep through and not have a dummy. Bloody hell, I didn’t know diddly squat about parenting and the truth is, until you have your own child, you don’t either. Coincidentally I have a child who has tantrums in public, sleeps terribly and hates vegetables.
Look, one can get all offended and huffy but it just is what it is man. It doesn’t have to be a competition for who’s life is harder or who knows more, it’s just a matter of experiences. For example, I don’t know what it’s like to be a nun, I’ve not lived that experience nor do I want to. Similarly I don’t know what it’s like to have a broken arm either. I’m sure it’s painful and awful but I can’t spot on describe it and I never want to, thanks. And I don’t try and tell the nuns or broken armed people of the world how they can better improve their situation.
Not knowing someone else experience is not about devaluing you or your own experiences. If you one day decide to become a parent then you’ll probably find out just how hard it is to parent in front of a world that thinks they know better. If you don’t ever want to become a parent? Great! I envy your sleep and ability to talk on the phone without screaming, “Get down off the heater! And stop trying to swallow the blind cord!”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” “Because you can’t tell someone what they have to live to learn.”
Says it all really.
You know, being a parent is similar to teaching in one way. Everyone has an opinion on teaching because they went to school and therefore are apparently experts on educational practice. And I guess cause everyone was a child and had a parent, they think the same about parenting?! Who knows? I tell you what though, being a parent has made me a better teacher by far. I am more empathetic and understanding of both students and parents.
The stupid thing is, I only pulled out the whole you don’t know card because I was presented with a situation where I needed to. I’m not an uppity parent who runs around telling people that on a whim. But if I have to I will. Parenting Addison has been the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done. And until it happened to me I had no idea what is was like. And it took becoming a parent to admit that I really had no idea of what was involved and invested, until I became one.
So please, don’t tell me to hit my 17 month old child because she’s upset and crying. I might just belt you instead.