If you’re one of those people with no kids of your own who’s constantly judging everyone’s parenting skills, then please stop. Trust me, all the other parents and I had a meeting, we put it to a vote, and it was unanimous: we hate you. You don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re rude and you should keep your stupid opinions to yourself.
On the other hand, if you are a parent, then judging other parents can be one of the most fun and satisfying ways to spend your time, so have at it! It’s open season for you!
OK, that might still get you in some trouble with the people you’re judging, so I can understand if you want to be careful. But I can’t imagine any of the lamest moms and dads would do something so informative as to read a parenting blog, so just between us, I’m going to let them have it.
Here are 5 types of parents who, in my opinion, it’s perfectly OK for you to judge…
1. The “What’s Bedtime?” and “What’s a Sitter?” Parents.
Look, I’m sure you really needed the six pack of Corona Light, but was it really worth dragging your toddler out to Stop & Shop at 10pm? Some of us call that “bedtime”. We look forward to it as a relaxing break at the end of our hectic day, and what’s more, the kids need it. It’s win-win.
At least Stop & Shop is an age-appropriate activity for young children. We’ve all seen those morons who were so psyched for “World War Z” that they dragged their 2-year-old out to the midnight showing at Mann’s Chinese rather than wait the two months it’d take for that movie to be on DVD. How are they selling these people tickets instead of calling child protective services on them?
It’s insane that some places have laws against gay parents adopting or fostering kids when there are clowns like this raising children. Look, not every gay couple is Ozzy and Harriet, but if you want to root out the truly unfit parents, I suggest starting at the multiplexes.
2. Parents Who Helicopter Other People’s Children.
Say what you will about helicopter parents. At least the only kids they’re messing up are their own… that is, except for this subset of helicopter parents who are determined to overparent everyone’s kids.
When my kids fall down at the playground, I don’t usually make a big deal about it, and because of that, they don’t make a big deal about it either. They get up, limp for a second or two and then run around like maniacs again… unless some other grownup runs over and screams, “OH MY GOD! ARE YOU OKAY?”
Odds are, my kid was fine until the crazy lady ran up and started screaming hysterically in his face. Now he’s not crying because he’s hurt. It’s because you freaked him the eff out. If not for you, he’d be back swinging upside-down from the jungle gym by now.
Oh, and while you’re at it, spare me your evil eye. When my kid really does get hurt, I will swoop in faster than you could imagine and do all the things that need to be done. I just want him to know that there are some ouchies he’s perfectly capable of handling on his own.
By the way, this is a park. I’m not sure what that green spongy material under our feet is, but I suspect it’s at least 70% marshmallow. No one’s going to get beheaded here. Relax.
3. The Only-Engage-With-The-Kids Parents.
These ones are just weird. I take my kids to the same places over and over, and we see a lot of the same people. Some of them are friendly, some of them are not, and a lot of them fall in this weird middle ground where they’re very friendly… but only to the kids. They talk to them, hand them toys, introduce them to their kids, but even when I’m standing right there, they won’t address me directly or look me in the eye.
Instead, they’ll direct all their questions to my children. “Does your Daddy mind if you play with that?” “What a pretty shirt your Daddy dressed you in!” I imagine they’re just socially intimidated by other adults, but it’s hard not to feel like Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense. Her Daddy is standing right here! Talk to him, please! He’s starved for adult conversation!
Seriously, if there are other people out there who can’t see me, please let me know, because I’m starting to worry that I’ve crossed over to another plane of existence or something.
4. The Insufficiently Apologetic.
One day at the kiddie gym, a little boy smacked my daughter in the face because she was on the trampoline he wanted to use. His mother was appropriately horrified, but she didn’t say a word to me or Sutton. No “Sorry”, no “Please don’t sue”, no “Bobby, give that girl a hug.” She just grabbed the kid and ran away to lecture him.
I’d lump into this category any parent who offers their own apology for the kid’s behavior but doesn’t make their kid apologize himself — and worse, doesn’t do anything to reprimand him. One day at a playground, a perfectly polite nanny assured me that her kid didn’t normally pin kids to the ground and pull their hair until they screamed, the way he had just done to Sutton. She even gave him an ultimatum: apologize or they were going home. He didn’t apologize, but half an hour later, they were still there, and he was pulling some other kid’s hair.
I thought we were all in the same boat, trying to teach our kids to own up to their actions and say they’re sorry when they screw up. But now the next time my kid misbehaves, she’s going to whine, “But that kid at the park didn’t apologize!” And suddenly my teachable moment turns into me teaching her that some people are just assholes.
5. The Overly Apologetic.
Look, everyone’s kid throws a fit in public sometimes. It sucks. But you don’t need to run around telling everyone how sorry you are and swearing, “He never does this!” Try to forget about all the annoyed jerks glaring at you and focus on your kid instead. Calm him down, get him out, do whatever your parenting instinct tells you the situation demands. Trust me, no one’s going to hand you a report card on the way out, with an “F” in tantrums. Well, I’m not, at least. I’ll be one of the parents passing you glares of sympathy and encouragement. In almost any case of tantrummy kid vs. beleaguered parent, I take the parent’s side, because I’ve been there myself many times.
Sometimes the best way to handle an outburst is to ignore the behavior, and that can be tough. I know I look like a horrible parent because my kid’s screaming their head off in a shopping cart and I’m trying to decide which brownie mix to buy. But you know what? I’m not going to give into him just to calm him down, and it’s not that I think this is acceptable behavior. I’m just halfway through my shopping, and I’m really in the mood for brownies, so we’re riding this one out together, everybody. You don’t like it? Kindly move to Aisle 6. Thanks.
Besides, don’t be so self-centered. You think everyone’s judging you? Pfft, who would do that?
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