Here are a few recent searches on my blog:
when someone comments on your screaming baby, stop judging my kids, negative comments about my child
Are you seeing a pattern there?
Jeez. It’s sad to say, but parents are always going to have to put up with this. If you have kids and take them out in public, you will hear comments. I don’t know why people feel entitled to do it. It’s sort of like how every stranger wants to grope your brand new infant baby just when you’re most certain they’ll end up with ebola.
So it’s best to have a sense of humor if you can, and if you expect it will happen you can have a few snappy comebacks ready. “I know, kids – they’re crazy!” Or “It’s been a tough day.” Or my new recent favorite is, “Thank you for your input.” (Ha! What can they possibly say to that?)
And, seriously: does it really matter what some stranger thinks of you and your children?
Do they have any idea what’s going on in your life in the moment your kid decides to misbehave?
And do they think their helpful advice will straighten you and your bratty kids right out?
As you can see this is a sore point for me. But it’s human nature – we’re always judging people. I judged a woman this morning who was walking down the street with a man. I thought it was gross how he had his arm around her shoulders, and she looked hunched up under his weight. To me the body language said, “I own her.” But what do I know? Maybe she loves being held, or something bad happened and he was comforting her. They’re probably lovely people. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
I judged that guy who sat on his baby. But I was judging him, not his kids!! Maybe right there is the key to why comments about our kids annoy us so much – they reflect on something we might be doing wrong. And that, my friends, is some hard stuff right there. No one wants to admit they might be messing up. A lot of us don’t know how to fix it if we are. But it’s pretty much guaranteed that as soon as you become a parent you’re pretty sure you’re screwing them up somehow.
And maybe that’s why we’re always judging other people’s kids – because then we feel better about what we’re doing with ours. Ah, the vicious cycle. I’m reminded of that lovely old saying, he who points a finger points three back at himself.
There must some brain mechanism that causes us to behave this way, identifying with tribes and outcasting the weak or something like that. But when I tried to research it the only information I could find around judging had to do with religion and quotes from the bible. So get on it, psychologists, I want to know why we’re always picking on everybody else’s kids!
There’s nothing we can do about it: people will judge. Ignore them, love your kids and trust that you know what’s best for them. And remember that some days you get lucky. We were in the grocery store the other day, a place where I’ve had PLENTY of hairy eyeballs, rude comments, and people flat-out trying to discipline my kids. Luckily this stopped happening (for the most part) as they got beyond being three years old and whiny. It was either a really great day in the world, or we just looked like the happy family we are (it’s true). I had three different people comment on my boys, were they twins, they’re so helpful, what nice kids, etc. I was, of course, extremely pleased and proud, but also wondering who put the happy pills in the town water supply this morning.
So when someone cuts us down I try to remember those happy times, when I’m so proud of my kids that my chest is about to burst. It’s natural to focus on the the one negative thing someone said and forget about the twenty positive comments. Put a few good moments in your basket (as Pam would say), and try to remember them when someone disses you. We’re only human – we’re all doing our best – and we’re not at our best every moment.
And PS, to all the friendly “helpers” out there: It’s not your job to fix anybody else’s kids!!!