Parents spend so much time teaching our kids the dos and don’ts of proper behavior that we seem to forget that we need to adhere to the same rules.
We want our kids to grow up with empathy and compassion, acceptance and generosity and more, but we often go around practicing the exact opposite, particularly when it comes to our interactions with fellow parents.
Can’t we all get along?
There’s something about having kids that seems to inflate your sense of importance.
Maybe it’s because the act of procreation is so profound, and, for many of us, may be the most meaningful, lasting thing we’ll ever do. Unfortunately, pretty much anyone can do it, and the idea that someone knows better merely because they have children, or have had children for longer, is absurd.
Most of the parents I know can hardly handle their own kids (myself included), let alone other people’s! And yet once we procreate, whether we’ve been parents for a year or for ten, we can’t help ourselves from offering advice to other parents, leveling judgment at them, making comparisons of our kids and our methods, i.e., being obnoxious.
We spend so much energy teaching our children to be good people (impressing upon them the need to be kind, to be respectful, to treat others as they’d like to be treated) and to have good manners (training them to say please and thank you and you’re welcome, not to stare, not to point) and then we seem to lose track of those values ourselves.
So I’ve put together a list of some basic dos and don’ts of parental interaction, so that we can try to stop being jerks to each other.
- Don’t Judge – As if you know any better
- Don’t Offer Unsolicited Advice – If I want your input, I’ll ask for it
- Do Offer a Helping Hand – It’s always welcome
- Do Offer a Drink – So is this!
- Don’t Compare – Everyone’s circumstances are different. YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE.
- Do Vent – We’re allowed to bitch about our kids and how much parenting sucks. Get off me.
- Don’t St–
You know what? This is stupid.
I don’t want to tell you what to do any more than you want to hear it. I don’t know what you want, or what’s best for you, because I don’t know you. And even then I wouldn’t presume that I know better than you how to live your life or run your family or parent your kids; I’m barely holding my own life and family and kids together.
There’s only one thing I know for certain about you, and that’s that we’re in the same boat. We’re all flailing around, grasping at straws.
We’re all tired AF. We’re all frustrated as hell. We all judge and we all compare and we all do the same shit we hate having done to us because we’re all human and we can’t help it. To our credit, much of the judgment probably comes from a good place, an instinctual desire to protect children, but the fact is no one knows best.
There is no best. There is only what works for you.
The sooner we all accept that, the sooner we can stop worrying about what other parents are doing. So unless you see someone holding their second grader’s legs during a keg stand, you should probably just butt out.
In other words, rather than leave you with a long list of dos and don’ts, I’ll go back to the only ones you really need: do mind your business and don’t be a dick.