Did I ask for your opinion?

Posted Thursday 3rd October 2013   By Ericka Waller

So the BBC have been debating why some parents do not welcome advice from non-parents. I can tell you the answer right now, it’s because it’s none of their business. That said, nor is it the business of fellow parents.

I could not care less how other people parent. I don’t care if they breast or bottle fed, or how long they breastfeed for. (My only exception to this is that documentary about the woman breastfeeding an eight-year-old and that magazine article about a woman who breastfed her dad.)

I don’t care if other parents let their baby sleep in bed with them. I don’t care when they weaned their kids, and if they used pureed food or went down the ‘baby-led‘ route.

I don’t care what washing powder they use. I don’t care about the colour or texture of other babies’ poo. I don’t care how well they sleep at night or if they have a dummy or not.

The fact that someone else is also a mother or father does not mean that:

A: I will have anything in common with them
B: It’s appropriate/welcome/acceptable to give me unsolicited advice about my children or my parenting techniques (slightly ambitious use of the word technique. Parenting attempts probably more realistic)
C: It’s OK to judge me (and of course vice-versa)

Don’t get me wrong. I do sometimes ask other parents for advice. Normally though, it goes like this.

Me: Does anyone else’s kid poo somewhere in the house then draw a map to show how to find it?
Other person: No. My children were all potty trained perfectly by 18-months.

Me: Do you notice that your children bite each other more when it’s a full moon?
Other person: No. My children are very sensitive to each other’s needs. Perhaps it’s because you had them so close together?

Me: Is it OK for a child to exist on a diet of party sausages and strawberry lip balm?
Other person: No. My children all live on the organic food we grow ourselves. They would not know how to open a packet.

Me: Is it normal for a child to beg to sleep in the dog cage (and drink out of his water bowl?)
Other person: No. There is something wrong with your kids.

In my experience, when it comes to parenting, a problem shared is not a problem halved. It’s a chance to brag about your own child and wonderful child-rearing skills.