I was scrolling through my instagram feed the other day, when I came across this quote, “Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing in the world to do.”
It really resonated with me – not only because I agree that parenting is hard, but also because before I had children of my own, I thought that I knew it all and had all sorts of ideas about what made a good or bad parent. I thought it was easy.
I was so unjustifiably judgmental, its embarrassing. Who did I think I was?
Sure, I worked as a nanny for many years, but that in no way compares to the endless work that is parenting. I was able to go home at the end of the day, to reset, catch up on me time. I rarely took the children along for errands. I never had my own things to take care of while I was watching the kids. Being a nanny is a job. Being a parent is your life.
Once I became a parent myself, it turns out that a lot of the things that I said that I would never do or was better than, are things that I sort of do all of the time and you know what, I have no shame about it at all!
Here are my top 5 parenting judgements that I made before I had *any* idea what it was like to have children of my own.
Giving children devices at restaurants.
When I would be out at a restaurant, nothing made me roll my eyes more than seeing a family at a table allowing their kids to play on their phones or tablets. I’d think to myself, “Aren’t meals a time to bond with your family? Why didn’t they just stay home if they were just going to ignore their kids like that? Don’t these parents know the dangers of screen time?”
HA! Little did I know that kids can totally be little shits when you’re out to dinner! They pour salt on the table or put bread in everyone’s water. They want to get up and wander around the restaurant. They complain about being bored – about the food not being out fast enough. They interrupt, they’re too loud!
Believe it or not, the adults at the table want to enjoy themselves too.
Sometimes, when I’m really on that mom A game, I’ll pack some crayons and coloring books for the table, but lets be real, I’m not always that put together! Its extremely unlikely that I’ll forget my phone at home, so after several unsuccessful restaurant trips, I downloaded several kids apps and now allow Nori to play on it from time to time when we are out. Some of the games are even educational! I don’t see the harm in it and honestly, don’t understand why I had an issue with it before – I mean, adults sit at the table on their devices all the time too. I’m not saying that anytime I want some peace and quiet I just stick Nori in front of a device, but in certain circumstances, it’s totally cool!
Letting kids tantrum in public.
We have all seen it before – a kid having a major tantrum out in public. Some parents just stand there and wait while their kid screams and cries on the floor. Other times, parents swoop up their screaming child, throw them over their shoulder and run them out of where ever they are as quickly as possible. Some even start to tantrum themselves and begin to yell at their child. Whatever the method these parents use to deal with the situation, I’d always thought that I would handle it differently – better.
“Couldn’t these parents control their children?” Haven’t they taught them anything? My kids would never act so bratty!”
Ha! I thought these parents were letting their kids freak out, as if they had total control over their child’s body and emotions. I may not have been aware of it at the time, but now I realize that I didn’t believe that kids should have a right to their own feelings. They were to be obedient and contained and if they weren’t, that reflected poorly on the parents.
Now, as a mom, I have compassion for these parent’s with the kid melting down at the store. It’s not their fault at all! Kids have big feelings – feelings that they don’t exactly know how to deal with properly. Their brains aren’t fully developed, so they don’t understand reason or how to navigate through the new feelings they’re experiencing.
As parents, it is our job to teach our children that it is okay to have feelings and to let them out. Sure, the store isn’t the ideal place to work these things out, but it happens. Kids want things, they don’t understand the value of money and most of all, they don’t like to hear the word, “no!” – I mean, who does? We were all kids once, and I’m sure that most of us have had fits in public. No matter how a parent chooses to deal with their kid’s public meltdown, it’s safe to assume that they are doing their best!
A child’s behavior is not a direct reflection of how they are parented – tantrums just come with the territory!
Going out to party as parents.
This one is pretty embarrassing. When I used to work in bars and I would see people who I knew were parents out and about, partying, I would judge them so hard. I couldn’t believe that they were leaving their kids with a babysitter to go to a club all night. UHHHH. Hello!! I worked as a babysitter growing up – what did I think the parents were doing!?
Parents need to let loose!
Parents are allowed to still be the people that they were before children, even if that means they’re out partying (responsibly) until 3am!
I don’t get a sitter all too often, but when I do, you better believe I’m out, trying to have a good time. I would go totally crazy if I never went out without the kiddos to have fun with my husband or friends. In fact, I think that it makes me a better parent when I make time to have fun.
Breastfeeding past infancy.
It’s not that I thought that breastfeeding was gross or inappropriate – I respected women who breastfed. I mean, they were sacrificing their perfect, youthful breasts! That being said, once their babies stopped being little lumps and started to eat food and walk and talk – well, at that point, consider yourself judged if that baby isn’t using a cup.
Didn’t these mother’s want their bodies back?
Didn’t they know that people were judging them?
Fast forward to me becoming a nursing mother and surprise! I nursed Nori until she was 2.5. I’ll admit that sometimes because of my pre-parenting judgements, I felt a little self conscious nursing her in public once she was around 18 months, but don’t get me wrong, I still did it. The relationship that Nori and I had around nursing was so positive for both she and I, that I felt no desire to stop breastfeeding her until she started to twist my other nipple while she would nurse and I absolutely hated it! That was it for me and we weaned. I think that as long as both mother and child are enjoying their nursing relationship, they should continue to nurse. I am nursing Mateo now and hope to continue for a while longer. Personally, I don’t want to nurse past 3 years old, but to the women who do, more power to you!
Letting kids dress inappropriately for the weather.
On a cold or rainy day, if I’d see a child without a jacket, it would make me feel annoyed and concerned. Didn’t these parents care about their children’s comfort? Were they just too lazy to dress them? Did they forget?
Of course, my daughter turned out to be one of those kids who is always dressed inappropriately for the weather. She always wants to wear flip flops when it is cold outside and rain boots when it is hot and dry. She will refuse to wear a jacket, even if it is rainy. Its a constant struggle! But, some battles are better left alone. As long as Nori feels confident in the wardrobe choices she has made, I let her go with it even if I know she may be unhappy in the long run. The only exception is if I know that we will be outside for most of the day – I don’t want her to be miserable for too long because then she will be unhappy and she will complain and then I will be unhappy too.
Oy! So, there you have it. I used to be a judgmental bitch about things that I knew nothing about and I’ll bet you were too!
What are some things that you used to judge parents for before becoming a parent yourself?