It 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?