Don't be that parent

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 21, 2013, 10:49 PM | comments: 0

Before I was a parent, I found myself judging a lot of other parents. "How could they let their kid do that? That kid is gonna be screwed up. Nice parenting, jackass!" These were not among my finer moments, for sure. As it turns out, raising a kid isn't that easy, and there is no magic formula.

Now I avoid being that person, since obviously I get it to an extent. I'm still amazed at how people can be. Like when you're queueing to board a plane, and some dickhead makes some comment about the woman traveling alone with a crying baby. That happened to me on my last trip to Seattle, and to balance the universe, I offered to carry the stroller for the woman to the end of the jetway. I mean, come on, the woman just gave the gift of life, cut her some slack.

And what's worse is that sometimes people have kids and they're really "that parent," so convinced that they have all of the answers and everyone is getting it wrong.  Sure, we can all agree that it's somewhat easy at first, because all babies cry, eat, poop and sleep. They might deprive you of sleep, but they're not usually very complicated. But within a year or so, they start to get really complicated, and they all do so in different ways.

I get this all the time, because I like to share stories about my parenting experience. Inevitably, someone has to chime in with cocksure advice that will solve all of your problems. I'm not really interested in that advice, I just need a little empathy. You don't have enough context about my issues because you don't live with the kid. Back off.

I think this really hit home for me when a couple of friends were recently kicked out of a Chipotle because their kid, with autism, was "making a scene." To the casual observer, or the parent with all of the answers, the reaction might be that those parents suck at life, but they don't have context. If your kid is wired differently, your advice isn't worth shit. (For the record, Chipotle apologized and admitted they had an obvious training problem.)

Living near Walt Disney World, and seeing all kinds of things as far as children go, I've learned to reserve judgment. My kid isn't a saint either, and the reality is that I don't know what's going on with a misbehaving kid or the parents. It's really none of my business. Live and let live really works for you in this case.


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