Parents: Our own best friends, and our own worst enemies

Parenting is a cutthroat world. Just ask any old mom or dad.

“Your little one is still not potty trained? What are you waiting for?”

Uh, believe it not, I actually enjoy changing diapers!

“You have to sleep train your toddler. You can’t have him waking up every 2 hours!”

No, you don’t know how much fun it is to fall into a deep sleep and be awoken by a toddler slapping your stomach. It’s fantastic!

Bottom line: Your kid is exactly that. Your kid. And you know what is better for her/him.

I made it my mantra after having children. That I wouldn’t tell anyone how to raise their children, even if I knew the secret. Because after having one, I thought every subsequent one would be the same. Man, that did not happen to me.

That being said, offering advice about certain parenting topics is totally fine. Just don’t claim to know everything about everything. Because you don’t and you won’t.

Unfortunately there are still those parents out there who insist on telling you how horribly wrong you are raising your kids. And what’s worse is that they are usually the parents who are new to the game. That’s because experienced parents know how the parenting game works, and how every kid really is different. Plus they are probably living on only a few hours of sleep and are too drained to even care about how you raise your kids.

I once had someone tell my kid that she couldn’t have juice because she was coughing. I meekly smiled and quietly told my daughter she could have some later. But it burned me inside. I’m not dead yet, so leave the parenting of my kids to me. You know, the one who actually gave birth to and raised this child from the beginning.

I’ve also heard new parents shrug off the concept that a child changes your life. God forbid you try to help young couples understand the reality of children. The reality of your now shortened social life. The reality of your now nonexistent free time. The reality of managing a routine. I literally heard a parent say, “My kid will do as I say. I won’t change my life for my kid.” Let me know how that works when you’re at a friend’s house enjoying yourself and your kid starts screaming because she’s sleepy. Because it’s her bedtime. I’m sure she’ll understand if you say, “Honey, just chill. OK?”

But put that all aside, and parents know that you can only talk to another parent when you are having a sleepless night, or weaning a kid from a pacifier. Parents are the only ones who get parents. They can make all those horrible moments feel better with just a reassuring smile that says, “Hey, don’t worry. I get you.” And this is what parents need from each other – to be there to offer support and encouragement when the going gets tough. Be helpful. Offer an ear or a shoulder to cry on.

What many of us don’t realize is those cutting remarks actually do hurt parents inside. Even if it’s an experienced parent. You think a parent who has to change a 4-year-old’s diaper actually enjoys it? No, I certainly don’t think so. What parent doesn’t cringe when they are dealing with a tantrum in public? It makes you feel like the worst parent in the world. How can I, as an adult, not be able to control this 2-year-old anklebiter?? It’s frustrating. And judgmental remarks and disapproving looks don’t help at all. Most of parenting is literally learning as-you-go. Even if you’ve done it before, some kids can still throw you a curveball. Patience and prayer, is your best bet as you navigate the rough waters.

And I truly believe what goes around comes around. So unless you enjoy waking up at all hours of the night, or watching your child writhe on the floor for a lollipop, please don’t attack other parents for things they cannot control. I have seen the universe be quite unkind to those who forget this.

Even if you think that 3-year-old in front of you should not be sucking on a pacifier, just smile and worry about your own kid eating dirt from the sandbox. It’ll put everything in the right perspective.

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