Thursday, October 3, 2013

Unsoliticed parenting advice

I know, I know.  It takes a village to raise a child.  I would just prefer if that village did not include strangers on the street who think they can and should tell me how to parent my child.

Last week HP and I took the bus to his 15 month well-check.  On the way home a man tapped me on the shoulder and told me I needed to stop my son from putting something in his mouth because there were germs on it.  As if I didn't know there were germs on public transportation.  My response was to smile and reply, "There are germs everywhere.  He touches everything and then sucks his thumb.  I am not worried about it."  His response?  "I raised three girls."  Not exactly sure what he meant by that.  Maybe he was trying to say that since he was older and has raised multiple children it is okay for him to tell me what I should and should not let my child do?  Ugh.

I get it.  I know that the public transportation is full of germs and disgusting things.  But we need to take the bus and I cannot control every aspect of his environment.  I accept that it is gross and convince myself it is fine in the name of building up his immune system.

A similar thing happened while we were waiting for the bus downtown.  HP was playing with the rocks that surrounded a tree in the sidewalk.  He was mostly picking them up and handing them to me, but every so often he would put one in his mouth.  He is past the age where I am worried about him accidentally swallowing a rock.  When he does put one in his mouth, he only puts in part of it while holding the other half.  After a couple of seconds, he takes it back out and drops it or hands it to me.  So I don't worry.  Yes, it's gross.  But his hands are all over the rocks either way so the germs are getting in--either from sucking his thumb or sucking directly on the rock--so I have decided not to fight that particular battle.  He's just being curious and if I did make a big deal every time he put something disgusting in his mouth, it would just encourage him to do it more.  When I don't fight it, he loses interest.  But two people nearby told him not to put the rock in his mouth because it was "yucky."  As if I wasn't standing right there watching my child.  I am sure they were trying to be helpful.  Maybe I was having a particularly bad day.  But it irked me.

It is just so strange to me that people feel like they can and should parent my child for me.  It is one thing if he was putting himself in danger--like running out into the street--and I was not paying attention.  But putting a rock in his mouth?  I don't think that warrants intervention by strangers.

These experiences did two things for me.  (1) It made me glad that we no longer have to take the bus regularly since HP can ride on our bikes, and (2) It gave me flashbacks to being pregnant when everyone thinks they know what you should be doing with your body.  This post nicely sums up my feelings on that point.

Moral of the story: unless prompted, people should keep their parenting (and really all other advice) to themselves.

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