But here are five things I never say to another parent:
- “You don’t breastfeed?”
I’m familiar with the health benefits of breastfeeding, and so is the mother who chose not to do it.
Maybe their kid has a protein allergy or a weak latch. Maybe they couldn’t pump enough to keep up with their child’s appetite.
Maybe this is an intensely personal issue for some parents, and none of us need another reason to feel guilty.
- “When are you having another one?”
One, it’s not your business. Two, you don’t know what sort of health or economic troubles that family might have, which would preclude them from having another child. Three, it’s not your business.
- “You’ve never taken them to….?”
This could be anywhere: the natural history museum, zoo, library — all good places to take a kid, by the way.
But it’s easy for parenthood to transform into 500 Things You Should Do with your Kid before Kindergarten.
Story times, sure. Walks in the park, yeah. Daily craft time, I guess. Swim and piano lessons, maybe. Russian classes… we’ll see.
Don’t turn parenthood into a checklist — for yourself, or for anyone else.
- You’re putting them in day care?”
No half-decent parent goes to the grave wishing they’d spent less time with their kids.
But day care is a necessary compromise when both parents work and there isn’t a grandparent/aunt/uncle/whatever to watch the child for you.
And, no, not all of us can afford nannies.
- “That’s not how I would have handled it.”
Different kids respond to different punishments. Maybe a timeout works for your child. That doesn’t mean timeouts are universally effective.
And, yes, this extends to spanking. My mom had four strong-willed kids and a thick slice of oak that quoted scripture. (“A sword for the Lord and Gideon…”) It worked, and neither my siblings nor myself turned into sociopaths.
Trust other parents to know their kids better than you know them.