I am a pretty laid back person and I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to criticism. Hell, even moments where I am “in my feelings” only last a few minutes; it takes a lot to get me angry. With all of that said, there is one thing that annoys me almost more than anything else on the planet: people without children giving me parenting advice.
Yes, more than the sound of nails on a chalkboard, sitting in heavy traffic because people are rubbernecking at a car accident, and more than when people say “fustrate” and “conversate.”
There’s just something about people without children giving me parenting advice that drive me up the wall. When someone who hasn’t procreated responds to “You should (insert counsel here),” it takes almost every fiber of my being to respond with a phrase that rhymes with “What the truck cup.”
I am aware that, for the most part, people mean well and aren’t passing judgment. However, I feel as if this is one of the very few arenas in which everyone feels as if they are experts and they have no experience. There is no manual on how to raise a child, everyone comes from a parent, and were raised by someone. How one was raised and how one actually raises their children are very different.
For starters, there is something in a person that changes when they become a parent.
One could love and have played a major role in being a parent figure in a child’s life; but it’s just different. You see the world differently. Self becomes secondary not because one decides to; it’s instinct. There are many things my parents said or did that I didn’t understand-even as an adult-but once I had my daughter made sense. If-or when-I have a second child, I would do things very differently because no matter how many books one reads, siblings they have, or what have you, is an on-the-job kind of thing.
Many times non-parents respond to things by saying “My friend who has kids,” or some variance of that statement. Nope, try again.
What your friends or whatever would do is very different from what you would do. Their collective experiences, applicable knowledge, and paradigm is different. Everything a non-parent says is speculative. I can think of so many things I have said before my daughter that I would never do that I do now. “Why are you paying so much money for tuition for a four year old that you can barely afford?” Because she’s in a very good school and I feel it’s a worthy investment in my kid. “But my friend doesn’t.” Maybe this is something that means a little bit more to me than them. Maybe because I grew up in a family full of teachers so that shaped the way I see schools. Maybe said upbringing has determined how I looked at the teachers in that school and I think they can being the best out of my child who has a unique temperament.
I think that in my circumstance because I am a single father I get it a lot.
I think part of the stigma about how fathers do things a little differently than mothers do comes into play. I do many things in a manner that’s a little unconventional because the circumstances in which I became a single parent are unusual and I swear on everything I love I think my daughter has been here before. Yes, I don’t try to be a mother to my daughter because I can’t. However, I am still nurturing to her. Most people see mothers as just being nurturers and fathers as kind of bumbling fools who protect and just do a lot of the fun stuff. It is almost astounding how many of my women friends don’t believe that I am quite a disciplinarian with my daughter.
I think I am a damn good father; I can’t think of too many people who would say otherwise. But I don’t think that I’m perfect, either. I am pretty sure I mess up from time to time and there are things that I do as a parent that will cause some kind of complex within my daughter. Every parent does this.
Nonetheless, more than likely I–or most parents–know they have that one or two thing that is a breaking point. Mine is music. I was raised by a musician and that will always be my first love and passion. I have learned how to ignore Disney and Nick Jr. shows that play over and over again. But I can’t STAND stuff like Kidz Bop. I think it’s corny and most of that stuff just makes my insides cringe. For the most part, I have found some semblance of balance in this. I am very careful of what Cydney listens to and what she repeats (In fact, nine out of 10 times, she knows what she should and shouldn’t repeat on her own).
I don’t listen to anything referring to drugs or sexual around her. But I love hip hop and I love that my kid does too. With all of that said, since I am with my child with not much relief, there are but so many times I can hear her music over and over in the car that I am driving us somewhere before I lose it. So guess what? I’m gonna turn on the radio and Cydney is gonna listen to the latest Fetty Wap song three or four times for the sake of my sanity. If she asks me what does something mean I will answer it and if it is particularly funny I will laugh to myself or out loud if I deem appropriate to do so.
If I post something on social media or tell a story to my non-parent friends and they say: “You shouldn’t do that,” I want them all to know I am thinking: “Shut up. You’ve never had a kid you can’t drop off.”
I would be a lot more receptive to the opinions of people without children if they started off their statements with: “I think.” I’m a stickler for language, so changing one’s vocabulary does change the context. “I think” insinuates that your opinion is speculative and “You should” is authoritative. It makes a world of a difference.
…I just needed to vent.