When I was a baby, my mother was sitting in a public place, feeding me a bottle of apple juice. A woman walked up and asked her if she was feeding me urine.
Disappointingly enough, my mother didn't reply: "How else am I supposed to test myself for diabetes?" Instead, she humored the lady and told her that no, she was not feeding her child pee. The woman walked off after that, certain I'm sure that she'd done her civic duty to protect the children.
Here's the thing about people like that: You're not helping. You're judging. And I would like to say, on behalf of many beleaguered parents out there, that you can keep that to yourself.
"But Arianna!" you say, "What about the children who're being abused? Someone must speak out for them! They can't always speak out for themselves!"
Well random voice I just made up, you're right. But I'm not referring to kids with bruises, or kids who clearly aren't fed at home. I'm talking about those of you who feel it's necessary to tell the zombie-mom in aisle three with two screaming tiny ones that she "really should control her children, because no one wants to hear that." Or those of you who "tsk" at the busy dad who's letting his kid eat a lollipop for breakfast and ask him if he knows that too much sugar can lead to childhood diabetes. Believe me. He's probably heard it already. You're helping no one.
It's kind of sad how many parents I talk to who feel consistently policed by others. This doesn't make them better parents; if anything it makes them more concerned about what you'll think than what may actually be going on with their children. And for most of us, that isn't the way we like to think.
Fact of the matter is, most of us really love and care for our kids. We learned early on that sometimes, that love and care involves merely trying to make it to the next five seconds without trading them in for a half-melted Popsicle and an old pair of roller skates. Your opinions and personal judgments aren't helping us get there; they're only making that journey a lot harder. Well, maybe they're making it a little easier because we're busy hating you for a while, but you get what I mean.
Let me put it to you another way: Imagine you're working on a pretty hard project that's taking a lot of your mental and physical skill. I walk up to you, having no idea what steps you've already taken, and I start making comments over your shoulder.
"You know, I hear that doing it that way can lead to long-term negative effects."
"You know, when I was little they did ___________. Fixed it right up. Why don't you just _____?"
"You know, if I were handling this? This wouldn't have happened to me. Just saying."
Undoubtedly, at best, you would wind up teaching me all types of brand new swear words. As long as your project isn't going to clearly implode on you, it's not my place to act as if I know a thing about what it is you're doing. But hey...you know what I could say in this situation that might work?
"You need any help?"
That. That's all.
If you really live to help the children, helping the parents is sometimes the best bet. If you live instead to convince yourself that you're at least a better person than the guy who yelled at his kid to "GET THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH," then by all means continue and don't mind me.
For the rest of you, try to remember that whether you want kids or not, you have moments wherein you need help, too. If you're the kind of person who enjoys being sideeyed as you're struggling to ....I don't know what free people do these days ...lug all your shoes into the trunk of your car? That's a thing right?
Anyway...if you're struggling with whatever you're struggling with, I doubt you're exactly fine with people yelling their opinions at you before moving on and lending literally nothing to the situation. Chances are, the people who offer to help and deliver without subjective statements are the ones you like, right? So before you glare at the loud kids in the family restaurant you're eating at, think about how much you'd like yourself if the tables were turned. Chances are, the answer is "not very much."
Just my two cents. Over and out.
Photo courtesy of Stock Photos