Parenting “advice” gone wrong

Last week I was finally able to get out and have some much needed girl time with some favorite mommy friends of mine. Girls that I’ve been friends with since before any of us were mommies, or even married. And just like old veteran military men sharing stories from the trenches in Vietnam, us mommies also share our war stories.

A story shared by my girlfriend of an almost two year old (freaking adorable) little boy was about the morning prior, and his temper tantrum in the grocery store parking lot. It was just one of those days, and she said it was just all she could take. Her son is usually pretty good when grocery shopping and just hangs out in the cart, so long as he’s hanging out freely in the main cabin, and not the seat and strapped in. But this day was not one of their normal days. While she was trying to get everything loaded in her car, a woman started hovering. “You know those carts hurt them. That’s not comfortable.” My friend ignored her, but the woman didn’t go away. She continued to hover, as as my friend picked up her son to console him for a second and then put him back in the cart. “Don’t put him back in there, he doesn’t like it.” And my friend snapped, “You need to mind your own business!”

Personally, I’m proud of her. Who did this woman think she was telling a complete stranger how to parent her child, and hovering as though she was the end-all of parenting dos and don’ts?

This story got me thinking. Exactly where is that line for outsiders to be able to rightfully step in and say something? Sure, the obvious is to try to step in if you see an adult hitting a child, or a child locked in a hot car. And where do these people get the balls to step in and say something when they don’t know ANYTHING about the family, when it’s not justified? There’s such a gray area here.

I saw a video several weeks ago of a mother and her son throwing a horrible tantrum in a parking lot. This mom had her other child videotape the tantrum, in order to share with her son’s Doctor the exact behavior she had been dealing with. She later uploaded it to YouTube.

A man came across it several years later, only to repost it adding, “spare the rod, spoil the child.” And after tons of criticism – and not the constructive kind – the mom finally stepped in with the facts…

“I originally posted a video back in 2010 of Jayden having a “tantrum”, it was before he had any diagnoses. It was the first time I couldn’t get him in his car seat…I smiled, and SMILED…due to the fact we had an audience watching us (it started out inside the restaurant) and I was embarrassed. He is now diagnosed with ODD, Aspergers, ADHD, Intermittent explosive disorder & bi-polar nos.”

She said she posted the video on YouTube to get support from others because she was completely lost and receiving zero help, other than the painful advice to put him in foster care. She wanted compassion. Hopefully all the people who felt the need to chime in with their nasty comments on this woman’s parenting skills feel like total a-holes.

Yes, there are definitely situations where someone should step in and lend a hand or stop something damaging from happening to a child. But mom-shaming someone on social media when you don’t even know any of the backstory? And telling a mother in the grocery store parking lot not to put her kid in the cart because, in your opinion, that’s why he’s fussing? Back off people. You don’t know what these mothers have gone through with their children to try and help them, or that they actually enjoy riding in the cart on normal days. The right thing to do, if you REALLY feel you need to step in? Don’t be a bully, or possibly ask the mother if you can load her car for her, so she can hold her child and console him.

I had an older lady at the grocery store start talking to the twins one day, and after a minute of chatting and trying to play with them a bit, she looked at my daughter and said, “Mommy couldn’t find you any pants that fit?” And my jaw just dropped. I was in such shock that I couldn’t even respond (and for the record, my lil nugget’s pants were NOT too small. Grocery cart seats for little ones aren’t exactly meant to flatter their clothing, nor do they do it any favors).

Everyone is so quick to offer advice and judge other parents, when they don’t have even the slightest inkling of that family’s story. No wonder we have so many women who are horribly insecure and worry so much of what others think. They don’t want to be shamed or judged!

So please, know-it-alls, keep your opinions; do not to tell a parent what they’re doing wrong. And moms, stand up for yourself like my girlfriend did. If someone judges you for that, screw ‘em. You don’t need them in your camp anyway.

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