There are a few things I wish other parents would stop doing when it comes to my kids—or at the very least in front of them. With some things, when I clearly know the intent, it’s much easier to let it go, but other times I find myself digging deep to extend grace (if I’m honest there have been times when I’ve dug deep and come up with nothing).
Still, I’m not here to judge. I’m just here to encourage us to look within and to be mindful of the things we are doing and saying, not just when it comes to our own kids. I’m sure I’ve done something to result in an eye-roll from another mom. So while I’m asking you to please stop talking like a sailor in front of my children who happen to be right behind you in the grocery store checkout line, I’m also doing my best to teach my children about our own family values and expectations and that we don’t necessarily have to like or agree with everything someone does to respect them or be kind.
1. Let their kids use social media
Apparently my tween is the only one who doesn’t have Instagram or Snapchat (hey, I don’t even have Snapchat)—which means I’m being totally unreasonable here. I’m OK with that, but is there anyone out there who can give me a (virtual) high-five?
2. (Well-meaning strangers) offer my kids snacks
You thought the tears were bad, now just wait until I say, “No thank you.”
My little one is crying and you wanted to help so you waved your magic wand, I mean lollipop. Actually, you did ask me if she could have it but she was right there listening and watching that gleaming piece of candy move through the air. You thought the tears were bad, now just wait until I say, “No thank you.”
3. Ask me for a favor related to your kid
Perhaps the only thing worse than my child putting me on the spot is another parent putting me on the spot—in front of both our kids.
4. Drop F-bombs
Given I’ve got a 3-year-old who occasionally moonlights as a parrot, I try to be more careful about what I say around her. While I can control what I say, I can’t control what you say (Note: I’m not just talking about the occasional drop but rather a continuous stream of profanity as a part of your regular dialogue.). And there are some words that I don’t want to become a part of her increasingly expansive vocabulary.
5. Be mean
Making cruel, harsh and/or judgmental comments about parents or children or people in general just isn’t cool nor is it funny. When you pick apart the traits (physical or personality) of another person (even if they’re on TV), support negative stereotypes and engage in other forms of word vomit, I’m forced to question the value of our relationship when it comes to my family. Or maybe I question why I came to this restaurant and ask to be seated somewhere else. In our world kindness rules. You can totally, “sit with us.” Just be nice, OK?
6. Tell me how to discipline them
Lucky for you they’re my kids, which means you don’t need to worry yourself with how they should be disciplined.
If you’re coming from a good place and you’d like to share your thoughts in private, then please go right ahead. But I’d rather you not tell me that all parenting dilemmas would be solved if I would spank my kids or ground them or do whatever it is you do. Lucky for you they’re my kids, which means you don’t need to worry yourself with how they should be disciplined. Have you watched the news lately? There are greater fights for you to fight.
7. Make a negative or snarky comment about their appearance
I’m trying to raise girls that are comfortable in their own skin (and hair), and listening to you go on and on about how their hair is so coarse and how it must take forever and be so difficult to comb isn’t helping. We don’t need you to pity us or belittle us. We’re learning to work what God gave us and love it too. You don’t have to love it, but as the saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say … “
8. Disrespect boundaries
Nope. If my kid doesn’t want to hug you they don’t have to. It doesn’t matter whether you are a relative or a friend; if you ask and they decline, that’s it. And please refrain from the manipulative fake cries or declarations that you aren’t going to give them a treat anymore. Keep your treat. They have a right to speak up when it comes to their bodies.
How is gossiping about someone’s marriage woes or troubled teen over coffee actually helping them? Moreover how is it helping my kids, who are indirectly being invited into an (inappropriate) adult conversation? Children are children, not miniature grown-ups. So please, let them be little. Once again “If you don’t have anything nice to say … “
10. Insist that (insert magical childhood character) doesn’t exist.
Just because you’ve stopped believing doesn’t mean my children have to. In my house we’re holding on to the magic of childhood for as long as we can, and for us that includes penning letters to Santa and putting that lost tooth under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy. (Also: Unlike our fictitious favorites, our God is real. We don’t attack your faith and ask that you please refrain from attacking ours.).
Is there anything you wish other parents would stop doing around your kids or you’re making more of an effort to stop doing?