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10:27:00 PM DC Daddy's Wine Time 2 Comments Category :

There I was, strolling up and down the aisles of farm-grown food, bbq, and other wares. I was talking on the phone, minding my own business, when out of the blue:


Security lady w/ sidearm: "That baby should really be sitting down in her stroller, sir."
me: about to smile because I wasn't really paying attention until I realize what she said, "She's fine. I got her."
Security lady w/ sidearm: "Sir, she really needs to be sitting down. She could fall out of that at any minute and hurt herself. Sit her down." That last bit was definitely a command.

Quickly, my mind spools through what I could say. This random stranger can't be aware of my cat like reflexes. I'm also walking really slow so that I can better catch my daughter if she decides to jump. And, by unstrapping her, I'm hoping to milk a few more minutes out of her patience so I could finish my phone call. Also, this place is not immediately dangerous. Etc.

Wait a minute!

Why am I rationalizing my parental decisions, here? Who does this stranger think she is that she can just butt in with parenting advice? Does it have something to do with the badge and gun she carries- since she's in a position of authority, she feels it's necessary to lecture me?

Oh wait, she's probably a mother, so I suppose that gives her the right.

So...

me (final reply): all stranger friendliness gone from my face, "You know what, she's fine. I got her. Don't worry about my daughter." Then under my breath, "For fuck's sake." 

I have fleeting thoughts of standing right in front of this nosy busybody while I finish my conversation. Then I'll lecture her on the finer points of butting into another parent's parenting. I'll top that off by telling her how, as a stay-at-home dad, I don't need her motherly ass stepping in and telling me what to do. First of all, I have a wife for that. Second, I've kept the child alive and healthy this long without solicited advice from people like her. 

Of course I didn't do any of this. I nonchalantly went on my way and finished my conversation. 

I would never presume to butt in and tell another parent what they should be doing, even if I didn't agree with their parenting style. If it's something as innocuous as letting their toddler stand up in the stroller in a relatively non-threatening area, then my input is not needed. Maybe if I saw a parent beating the shit out of their child, I'd have cause to come and say, "Excuse me sir/ ma'am", with a foot to their face. 

I think this is pretty much a case closed sorta thing and I think I handled it well.

There's no need to go on a long convoluted tirade about self-righteous behavior in public. That would take too long, and this situation is lacks enough of a gray area that we don't need any more context than I've provided. I wasn't verbally or physically abusing my child and she wasn't in any immediate danger. Yes, toddlers are always a half second away from killing themselves, but in this instance she was good.

So, when situations arise in which you feel the urge to step in, consider these three things:

  1. recall the principle of live and let live 
  2. is something happening that we're morally unsure of but conflicts with number 1
  3. if so, surely someone else will surely say something
I could stop this blog here, and I'm sure you would appreciate that, but I need to go a little further.

We all know what causes nosy people to step and make suggestions [to your parenting], don't we? It's the moral high ground, and that's what we're really talking about here.

You think you're standing on the moral high ground. We're not talking about instances of abuse or some other obvious morally questionable interaction, we're talking about little minor "no no's" of parenting. If you ever gave these interlopers a chance to defend their butting in, I can guarantee that they'd be forced to admit that, in their opinion, they wouldn't do that. Or in their opinion, that might not be the safest thing for a child. I may even agree that it's also my opinion that such and such isn't safe for a child, but here I am, bucking the objective standards what is and isn't safe.

Either way, whether or not you feel compelled to say something, you shouldn't. It's really not your place to tell me how to handle my child. Let me reiterate: 
  1. It's not your place as a stranger 
  2. You don't know anything about me 
  3. The child is not being abused in any physical/ verbal way, you just don't like how I'm parenting
  4. review the observable fucking situation a second time before you open your mouth
  5. If it fits all the criteria for intervention and you're still unsure, stop and stare at them until they notice you, or call the cops
This sentiment about parenting runs pretty deep in our culture, doesn't it? We always find the idea, namely that you have the right to parent how you want, barring overt abuse, imbedded between the lines of our inalienable rights. Why does this sentiment spark massive debates on protecting parent's right, but on the street, you feel it necessary to jump in tell someone what they're doing wrong? No one asked you or looked to you with a pleading look in their eyes. In fact, they weren't looking at you at all! You jump in like that, and it's an invasion of privacy. Even if you're not saying it, the implied meaning is there: you're saying I don't know how to parent.

Well, them's fightin' words, sweetheart. 

For my part...

I don't stand outside churches on Sunday, waiting for parents with young children to come out so I can accuse them of indoctrinating their kids and stunting their intellectual growth. Nor do I sound off to parents who are letting their kids stuff their faces fast food and candy (even if I will sound off to my wife about said people). I'm not even going say anything under my breath because I know it's not my place.

As a parent, you have a right teach your child whatever you want about life and death. Tell them that Santa won't bring them any goodies if they're bad because, like God, he's watching you all the time. Give them sweets to shut them up. I may not agree with any of this, but I'm not going to step in and pretend I know better. We all know or knew kids who consumed an inordinate amount of garbage and turned out totally healthy. There are also well-adjusted adults who've had the same amount of religious indoctrination as the person next to them, but don't run around yapping about creationism, the homosexual agenda, and denying climate change. Conversely, I'm sure you'd disagree with how I occasionally try to get her to say "fuck" because it sounds funny coming from a 2 year old.

Can't you see that we both think we're right, here? You think I was being unsafe and I think what you're teaching is dangerous nonsense. The best thing we both could do is not say anything until we absolutely have to cross paths.

So glad that google images
 usually provides the picture I need for my thoughts. 
It's only when two different parenting styles clash directly, i.e. someone complaining that you do/don't take your child to church, offering your child unapproved food or, in the extreme case, slapping/ spanking your child without your express permission, that you may be in the right to say something.

I'm sure we can all agree on this. 

Until then, note your objections within the confines of your skull and keep your mouth shut. If you don't [keep you mouth shut], don't be surprised that your unsolicited advice is met with annoyance or anger and then being told to fuck off.

When has anyone liked being told what to do by an outsider, especially with their own child? Let me answer that rhetorical question with this, you have a greater chance of being hit by lightning than your surprise advice being met with a welcoming smile and a "thank you".

See? That wasn't so hard.


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2 comments

  1. That lady was totally "parent shaming" you! Next time you should respond as if you are a guest on the Jerry Springer show! "This my baby bitch, can't nobody tell me how to raise my baby, I made this baby bitch, I will fuck you up,"

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  2. That was my initial thought on how to proceed. I imagine I'll become immune to the cultural pressure of being more diplomatic about people like this as time goes on..

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