Dear People Without Kids: You Don't Get To Judge Parents

by Jennifer Burby
Originally Published: 
Jennifer Burby

Here’s a new rule:

If you don’t have children and/or never had to raise children, then absent blatant emotional or physical abuse, you don’t get to judge people who are real-life actual parents.

Like, ever.

I recently shared an article on my blog’s Facebook page about how people who choose to not have children are not entitled to live in a childfree world. A guy named Joseph commented that “when kids are misbehaving in an intolerant manner, it is almost always shitty parenting.” (And yes, that’s an exact quote.)

When I replied to his comment simply asking whether he had kids (literally, I asked nothing else), Joseph replied that his comment “represented the statement of an opinion and not an invitation to converse.”

Wrong buddy, the beauty of owning a Facebook page is that I can converse with whomever I please, and if someone doesn’t like it, they can skedaddle elsewhere on the good ol’ web.

Also: Joseph clearly doesn’t have kids.

You’re right, Joseph. So when my daughter was having an inconsolable meltdown at the public pool the other day, it wasn’t because she was exhausted, had a cold, snuck too many cookies behind my back, or because she is 5 and her mental capacity hasn’t fully developed.

It was because I’m a “shitty parent.” Joe, you sure nailed it!

Whoever wants to judge a person as a de facto bad parent after witnessing a snippet of their child’s behavior has clearly never had to deal with a youngster themselves.

Or a 12-year-old for that matter.

As parents, we must guide our children in the proper direction many, many times before they figure out how to follow that direction through their own will.

It is an ongoing effort.

Yes, there are absolutely terrible parents in this world. However, I firmly believe that 95% of us are trying our absolute hardest to raise children to become functional, loving, and contributing members of society.

Most people who don’t have children cannot understand how hard it can be to raise them, which makes it that much more annoying when I can tell a childless person is internally shaming me when my kids are acting inappropriately.

These people get the five-minute “sound bite” of a child’s poor behavior, but don’t see the other 23 hours and 55 minutes of the day that involve waking up, eating breakfast, making lunches, getting out of the house, talking on the drive to school, going to work (or staying home with other children and tending to household chores), attending extracurricular sports and other activities, returning home and doing homework, making and eating dinner, and then bedtime. Throw in some important life lessons about navigating social situations and working our hardest at school, and woah, that’s a lot!

The judgmental childless person doesn’t see the parent who is trying hard to guide their kids in the right direction. The parent who is crying in the shower because their child is strong-willed and unmanageable. The parent who is making every effort to obtain effective treatment for a child who has a disability. The parent whose fingers are bleeding from putting stars on a sticker chart every single night hoping it incentivizes their child to “make good choices.”

They don’t see all of the sincere efforts parents make behind closed doors.

So to the childless person, take heed:

We teach our toddlers to behave at restaurants, but they sometimes end up screaming and throwing french fries on the floor.

We teach our kiddos the importance of sharing and being a good friend, but they will occasionally make another child cry when they don’t want to hand over a couple of Goldfish crackers.

We remind our young children to be considerate of other passengers on airplanes, but sometimes the flight is really, really long, and they end up running up and down the aisles or hysterically crying when their ears are popping.

We make sure they know it’s important to be quiet in places like the library or church, but sometimes they’ll forget and squeal with laughter or excitement.

It happens.

And I promise it’s not because the child’s keeper is a bad parent. It’s because the child is a child. And most of the time, the parent is trying really hard.

So if my kiddo is melting down at a restaurant, cut me a little slack.

Especially if you aren’t a parent yourself.

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