Yesterday in my trips around the internet I came across yet another person complaining about how people without kids were giving him/her advice on raising them; because those people didn’t seem to have experience, the advice was considered worthless.
I don’t give a lot of child-raising advice. But there are times when I feel qualified to point something out. After all, I was a child once. I was also the eldest of four children, a baby-sitter and a childcare worker in church. I also have a lot of common sense and a fair amount of study in the development process. I know more about language acquisition and early-childhood development than 95% of parents.
But that’s not what I want to say. What I want to say is this. Parents, I understand that you don’t want childless (the preferred term is Childfree, but whatever) people telling you how to raise your kids.
Well….maybe you should think that we don’t want to:
–hear all about every little thing your kids do. You may think it’s cute that she says “Neanut Putter”. But don’t tell us every time you see us open a Reese’s.
–stay late to do the work you didn’t finish because your child had a doctor’s appointment, a soccer game, her first middle school dance.
–pitch in to secure your job while you take 12 weeks of new parent leave.
–pay higher insurance premiums because all of our coworkers have lots of babies.
–pay property taxes that pay for schools.
–have an already hideous plane trip turn into a nightmare because your child will not stop screaming, kicking seats, throwing up.
I’m sure that while you read through that list you had all kinds of objections. Things like “well that’s how society works” and “that’s just the way things are” and “you are a bitch.”
No, I’m not. I don’t even think all those things; I’m just taking this opportunity to point out to you that there are gives and takes. Some of them are fair, some of them are petty and some of them are egregious. But as you probably thought, “that’s how society works”.
Sure, I don’t have the daily experience of parenting, but that doesn’t invalidate my opinions. I’ve also never held office, but I have opinions about politics. I’ve never made a movie or television show. Does that mean I can’t point out that Walking Dead would be better with more zombies and less repetitive introspection? I’ve never programmed apps for iOS; can I then not say which are good and which are a waste of time? Why does the App Store want my reviews?
Opinions are not formed only by doing, they’re formed by watching cause and effect. By interaction. Not all opinions are constructive and not all advice is good. But if you are using the village to raise your child, you’d best think about being nicer to the villagers.