To The Lady Who Offered Me Unwanted Advice

To The Lady Who Offered Me Unwanted AdviceIt has happened to us all. You are out and about with your children, minding your own business, when an unknown voice intrudes into your space. This kindly, well-meaning person goes on to tell you how to best take care of your children. Perhaps your child is not dressed warmly enough. Perhaps your child is dressed too warmly. Is your child particularly small or big for his/her age? Maybe your child is hungry or thirsty. Could your child need a haircut? Or does our child not look enough like his or her own gender? Is that a boy wearing a princess dress? *gasp*

Whatever’s the matter, then some kind stranger is happy to point out the problem. But the thing is, their help is normally unwanted and unneeded. Most parents are quite capable. We take care of our children, day in and day out. We know when they’re hungry, when they’re cold and when they need a cuddle.

Last week, I took both Moozles and Dubz into central London. We had taken the train to Waterloo and were walking around looking for the bus that would take us to Piccadilly Circus. We were all holding hands and feeling quite excited about our little adventure (I had never taken both children into central London without their father to help, and I was feeling proud of how well things were going). As I saw our bus, a lady, who looked to be about 60, called me over. I assumed she needed directions. Instead, she told me to zip up their coats as it was quite cold and they would catch a chill. You can probably imagine the look of shock and horror that crossed my face.

How dare someone stop me to inform me that my children are cold? My children were right next to me, and they had no complaints. In fact, they had big smiles on their faces. They were dressed warmly and their coats were zipped to the top of their chests. What child would agree to have a coat zipped to their chin? Anyway, I simply looked at her quizzically, shook my head and walked away, and we managed to catch our bus before it drove away. Moozles asked why the lady said that to us, but I said that I did not know.

When does it become acceptable to confront strangers about their children? I’m not beating my children in public. I’m not eating a burger while my children share a piece of lettuce. I’m not shouting at my children and telling them they are worthless. Like many other parents, I am taking care of my children to the best of my abilities. Has a stranger ever given you unsolicited advice/comments about your children? How have you reacted?


20 thoughts on “To The Lady Who Offered Me Unwanted Advice

  1. Oh its so hard, I have had things like this happen before. But they generally mean well even if it doesn’t come across that way. The worst I have ever had is when Mads my eldest daughter was about 6 weeks I went out for lunch to a nice restaurant with my mum. I was a first time mum and she started crying. I went to sort myself out ready to breastfeed her and I was getting all stressed as I still wasn’t completely used to breastfeeding in public. There were a group of about ten older women, about 60-70 having lunch and a couple of them kept turning around and tutting at me. I was so upset! My mum nearly stood up and had a go at them. xx

  2. I distinctly remember being at Sainsbury’s with my daughter when she was 1 month old and an older woman told me that her head shouldn’t be angled that way in the carseat. I told her my daughter was very comfortable and sleeping so it was “all good”. I’m sure she dismissed me as a rude American mother, so glad I spoke up for myself!

  3. Oh, this is the pits Elfa! The worst thing is you’re normally so shocked at the time that you don’t even manage to raise a withering look, let alone that great comeback that will make them think twice about ever questioning you again. I think 50% of them do mean well and I have to admit, I have to catch myself when I see a baby with no socks on in winter and remind myself that babies aren’t very good at keeping their socks on. And the other 50% are mean, for whatever reason. Sad life, lonely, upset that day – or just born mean. I hope you had a great day out anyway and good on you for taking them exploring in London! xxx

  4. Unfortunately comebacks can be necessary. Many people commented on my daughter’s hair (it’s gorgeously curly) and wondered where she got it from. Not that I has a problem with this but when I would say it’s from her father (my husband is Nigerian), they clearly wanted me to explain his ethnicity. Sorry, none of your business. I’m proud of my children and I don’t need to explain why a pale blue eyed woman has beautiful children who look nothing like me.

  5. I find it so bizarre that anyone would suggest they know more about your child than you – you’re the mother!!!! Perhaps this was a case of ‘speaking without thinking’. There are some serious busy bodies out there in the world.

  6. I often wonder if we ourselves will turn in to interfering old biddies when we are that old. Or those overbearing know-it-all mother-in-laws. Luckily I don’t have one the latter though! My OH’s grandma told me lots of times to not run to Oliver when cries and to feed him milk from a spoon from a few months old so that he didn’t rely on a bottle – didn’t have the balls to tell her I was still breastfeeding so I just told her he didn’t have a bottle! haha.

    Ps- HIGH 5 for going to central on your own with 2 kiddies. It genuinely scares me to just think about going on my own with Oliver haha

  7. Something like this happened to me a couple of weeks ago, we were in a shop and, as usual, Elsie (2) had taken her hat and gloves off, and then in the usual scream because I’m not allowed to buy something sh*t commenced an old lady came over to tell me ‘maybe she is cold, look at her little red nose’. I just looked at her and walked off, I mean a) we were in a shop and b) the tantrum was not about that!!! Then about half an hour later we were crossing the road and waiting at traffic lights (Elsie screaming again for whatever reason) and the little old lady appeared again. Looked at Elsie screaming and said ”Oh I bet she is too hot with all those layers on” I was already pretty stressed from Elsie and her constant screaming so I looked at her and asked if she remembered me from 30minutes ago when she had already questioned my parenting because apparently my daughter didn’t have any layers on IN A SHOP!? I then continued on my rant to tell her Elsie was screaming because a) she was a 2-year-old b) she wanted something she couldn’t have and 3) she was tired and 4) she has been poorly so if could she kindly mind her own business it would be appreciated…there was then an awkward silence as we waited for the green man! God I couldn’t wait to get away!

  8. You shouldn’t take that so personal. She’s just a nosy old lady. She probably didn’t mean to be intrusive, bossy, or to insult you.

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