I’m sure everyone one of us has had at some point, an encounter with what I like to call THE KNOW-IT-ALL-NON-PARENT.
This isn’t to be confused with the “secretly knows it all” person (who may be a parent, grandparent or non-parent). Those are the ones that give you the eye or make snooty comments under their breath. Those, I can handle. I expect it. Heck, I am guilty of that one. I did it more before I had kids but even now, I will think comments to myself when I see something I don’t agree with, or share them with whoever I may be with at the time. I’m pretty sure this one is unavoidable – everyone has an opinion and we all love to believe that our opinion is the right one.
No, I’m talking about the strangers who seem to have absolutely no problem coming right up to you to explain how you should be parenting your child. This is on my list of most shocking & annoying things people do, right under “strangers who have no problem touching your pregnant belly without permission”. I think you know the type I’m talking about.
Over the past 6 years, I have received more comments, lectures & advice than you can imagine. Typically the grocery store seems to be their location of choice, although it’s happened in other locations as well. Most recently for me, I had a very typical encounter.
I was grocery shopping with my 2 year old and right there in the cereal aisle, she had a complete meltdown! We were buying Honey Nut Cherios and silly me put the no-name version in the basket to try and save $2. She wanted the one with the honey bee on the front. Well explaining to a 2 year old that it’s the exact same cereal but in a different box doesn’t go over so well. She is a visual kid and she knows what she wants, it’s right in front of her and she can’t understand why I’m not giving it to her. Complete meltdown – threw herself on the floor, arms & legs flailing and the echo of her screaming ringing several aisles over. It wasn’t pretty.
Now, normally I do not give in to terrorists, and if this had been my older child, I would have been able to reason with him and explain. In this case, we were running late and in a way, I completely understood why she was frustrated so I calmly put the box back, got down to her level and asked her to go get me the one she wanted. The tantrum immediately stopped and between sobs, she managed to hand me the more expensive box of cereal. Best $2 I ever spent!
Sure enough, I am approached by a woman who pretty much corners me and starts a lecture about how she can’t stand by and just watch as yet another parent teaches their child that tantrums and screaming is how to get what you want. She then uses the magic phrase “IF I HAD KIDS, I WOULD…”
I am not in jail. I was not arrested. I didn’t even get escorted out of the store. Shocked? I am. I got home and for hours was fuming. How someone could be so disrespectful and just walk up to a stranger in public like that and tell them what they are doing is wrong.
I wish I could say that was the first time I was approached like that but it’s not. I have been given lectures about my choice to limit my kids juice intake, how I’ve handled other tantrums, how my kids talk to adults. I heard “advice” from complete strangers about how to get my daughter to start walking, how to get my kids to hold their forks properly & how when they have kids they will never take them to a restaurant (ha!).
The best yet was the one who said I should teach them not be so shy around strangers, as she tried to offer my son candy and he looked at me for permission before accepting. Sure lady, I’ll go ahead and teach my kids to accept candy from strange people, and while we’re at it, I’ll make sure they know that it’s completely safe to go in that truck with the man who has puppies.
I believe women instantly gain a thicker skin once that 2nd line shows up on the pee-stick. As much as you could let this stuff bother you, take it all in stride and just know, one day, that person may have kids of their own – and you can secretly feel joy for the day that their child throws a tantrum in the cereal aisle.