Much like remarking on a pregnant woman’s size, there are very few instances in which commenting on an individual’s parenting is appropriate. It may be surprising, but actually, most parents are painfully aware of exactly how their darling little ones are behaving, and a stranger’s commentary upon it is less than welcome.
In five years of parenting, I have heard an earful. Here is my Top 7 list of things of which I am already aware and don’t need anyone’s opinion on.
1. My baby is not wearing socks right now. It is cold and we are outside. I know this. I have tried three times to put his socks on, and three times he has taken them off. I gave up. I would use duct tape, but I got even stranger looks when I tried that.
2. I have random things stuck to my clothes. Any time I leave the house, there is a more than 80 percent chance that I have a sticker on my shoulder, Nutella on my chin, a Cheerio on my butt, and snot pretty much everywhere else. I am aware. No need to point it out. (Unless you’re pretty sure the Nutella is actually poop; I would actually like to know that. I draw the line at poop.)
3. I have more than two children. What’s that? I have three small children? Why yes, I do have my hands full. Aware.
4. This time goes by so fast. It does. And often, I am painfully aware of that. I know that one day they will head out on their own lives, apart from mine. I know that moment will be one filled with pride and sadness. And telling me that when my two-year-old daughter is literally throwing herself out of the car onto the pavement in a massive tantrum because I refused to let her crawl through the busy Target parking lot actually really helps me to take stock, calm down, and realize just how fondly I will look back on this moment—said no mother ever in the history of the world.
5. You shouldn’t let your baby eat that. I understand that graham crackers are not the most nutritious snack for a baby. However, I haven’t yet figured out how to breastfeed and jog at the same time, and if I don’t get him out of the house and into the stroller and occupied, I am going to lose my mind.
6. Our children are having a disagreement at the playground. I am not ignoring this. I can see that your daughter and my daughter both want to use the slide at the same time. However, I’m pretty sure this is something they can work out without our intervention.
7. My daughter is dressed inappropriately. I don’t know who made you queen of toddler fashion, but I see no harm in her wearing leopard-print velour pajamas to the library. I pick my battles. Today’s battle was over boots. And she’s wearing them.
In sum: Commenting on parenting choices = bad. Unless you are about to say, “You’re doing such a great job!”—then, by all means, comment away.