Strangers sharing parenting advice


Right now I'm channeling some serious tropical paradise vibes and pretending I'm sitting under this tree, on an island far, far away. It's been that kind of a fortnight. A little one with recurrent ear infections, a trip up to the big smoke and some serious withdrawals from the sleep bank have made it very quiet around these blogging parts.

Today the sun's out and we are trying to re-group chez moi after the last few days. No, the channeling of tropical islands didn't materialise, but instead this did.

A couple of days ago, I piled the little one into the pram for a walk to return a library book down the road. The library is a happy place for me and my kids. Loads of books, kid-friendly reading couches, and some of the loveliest librarians on the planet who load kids up with stickers and dinosaur books, if you're that way inclined. What's not to like?

So, the sun's out and we're on the way. Up ahead on the footpath is a woman in her sixties also out for a stroll. I smile hello. She grimaces, points at the pram, and with what can only be described as exuberant pity, strides past and says Good luck - You've only got a quarter of a century to go before you can do a single thing for yourself, even go for a walk, like me (*points to herself as she walks past*).

A little stunned, and a little on the sleep deprived side, I had no ready response and instead kept going.

It dawned on me that we were singing from different parenting song-books. Sure, I've got two under three and at times it gets a little nuts, but seriously, I get time for myself, people - and I'm pretty confident they'll be more.

It got me thinking about why a total stranger would feel the need to lay down completely random advice - in this case - a 25 year moratorium on any personal time - to a mum walking past her on the street?

And I realised since having kids it's happened to me a bit. When I was pregnant with my first and living in the city, random people would wrap their hands around my bump at the bus stop (why always the bus stop?) and hand out parenting advice - a little confronting at any time of the day but particularly before 8am and a coffee. Strangers told me the bump was very big, too small, and I was carrying worryingly low - all comments received on the same day.

I've also had strangers comment on what my kids and their friends are eating and drinking (most memorable was a lady who told my friend she was feeding her 2 year old poison by letting him eat a rice cracker - the evil apparently being in the puffed rice).

These comments have all been made by women and I wonder why. Chance? Or are we more judgmental about ourselves and others when it comes to parenting?

Here's what I think. Let's not do it. The judging thing. If you walk past me on the street and think I'm condemned to be a slave to my kids for the next 25 years, that's cool. But keep it to yourself.

Maybe it's just me, but I much prefer the solidarity thing. A few months ago my toddler was having an eye-watering tantrum while we were walking down the street (the same street,what's with that?) A man walking towards me smiled, shrugged and said Terrible twos? I've been there, and you're doing great.

That's it people. Solidarity, and not an eyelid batted.

I'd love to say that the day got better after a total stranger laid down the 25 year moratorium in the street. It however, did not. I returned home 15 minutes later to discover that we'd been robbed.

Hence the picture of a tropical beach and some channeling of peaceful vibes around these parts.

Here's hoping your weekend got off to a better start. If not, I hope there's chocolate.


*Photo Tropical Paradise by Chris Ford, via Albumarium

10 comments:

  1. Oh Pia, my heart goes out to you. What a sucky chain of events. There are some yucky human beings out there. I do wish I had a stock of one liners for people like that woman. And as for your robbers, well, they'd get something far worse than some bad words if my wishes had wings!

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    1. Not a great week but things are definitely improving! Thanks for the kind words x

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  2. Oh gosh it's horrid when people feel the need to judge your life without knowing you. I get that a lot but not for having kids, but for my appearance.
    Let's stop judging and start supporting x

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    1. You're amazing for dealing with it all the time Carly - totally inspirational. Congratulations on your recent Women of Influence award - so deserved!

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  3. I agree less judging more supporting and celebrating and kindness. Hope those robbers get the karma coming to them

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    1. Totally agree, kindness is sorely under-rated I think Jenny x

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  4. How horrible! Do these people think they are doing the right thing by giving you advice and not just being judgmental or mean or weird? It definitely says more about them than you. They must have had a rough trot and a few nasty surprises with their kids x

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    1. I kind of felt sorry afterwards because I was thinking the same thing Karen, that a really rough trot or not so good experience would make you feel like that.

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  5. My goodness. It always astounds me when people chime in with their thoughts/advice when you haven't invited them into your world...... sorry to hear that it was upsetting input. AND to be robbed?! You were totally violated and my heart goes out to you and your family. Here's to brighter, happier, more joyful days ahead!!

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  6. Thank you Joan for the kind thoughts x

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