Since when do old people have no boundaries? And when did it become okay for them to say whatever the hell they wanted about our parenting skills?
Sure they’ve been there, done that, but a little kindness and compassion still goes a long way. I’m sick of the judgement from old people as to how I choose to parent. I’m tempted to even say old people have forgotten what it’s like in their advanced age … do you know what I am talking about? I think you probably do…
Yes this is a rant. And I hope you’ll indulge me while I share it.
Over the past few months, I’ve had the older population say things to me that I wouldn’t have believed if I didn’t hear it with my own ears. And I’ve had the younger generation surprise me with their kindness and encouragement. Let me tell you why.
An elderly man actually told me to ‘stop beating my child’ when I was settling my son and patting his nappy. Yes, he was serious. You can imagine my mouth-gaping ‘are you freaking kidding me?’ reaction! Only a few minutes later, I had a young guy offer to help me put sugar in my coffee because I had my hands full. He told me I was doing an amazing job.
I immediately wondered when the elderly became experts in parenting, and when the younger generation realised that nobody actually is?
It doesn’t end here. I’ve been asked if I ‘feed’ my baby and I’ve been told to ‘keep it down’ when he started crying (at the local football, mind you). I’ve been advised to put a beanie on him (it was 30 degrees), and I’ve been advised that using a carrier will make my child dependent on me (umm, isn’t he meant to be? And if he’s 30 and still in this thing I’ll seek you out and apologise…)
You literally can’t make this shit up! Of course, I’ve since conjured up the perfect in-your-face witty comeback for each biting comment but at the time I was completely dumbfounded and totally lost for words.
Not only were these people older, they were also strangers! They had no idea who I was or what I had been through. They didn’t know that my anxiety was sky high and my confidence was in my boots. They didn’t know that I’d only had one hour of sleep the night before, or that I hadn’t had time to eat that day. They didn’t know that this was the first time I’d built up the courage to step outside of the house in a week. They didn’t know that I was the best parent possible to my little boy. And they didn’t know that I walked away and questioned that fact with a tear streaming down my face.
Some of the older population seem to have forgotten what it was like to be a young parent. Or maybe they actually believe they were better at it than us.
Either way, I feel like they should know better. Not so long ago, they were teaching their own children not to bully and to think before they spoke; yet they are blatantly walking around criticising others about their parenting skills. It astounds me that they believe these throw away lines are acceptable. Worst of all, they can’t seem to see (or just choose to overlook) the possible consequence of their actions.
Any one of these comments could have been enough to send a lonely, anxious parent over the edge. No, I don’t believe I’m being sensitive, I’m being realistic.
I know I am not alone in my feelings. A friend in my Mum’s group recently told a story where she was scorned for formula feeding, and finished by saying about us mums’ ‘lucky we have thick skin’. But we shouldn’t have to. And what if we don’t?
Mums are actually committing suicide. Struggling with guilt, criticism, high ideals and depression. This isn’t your simple ‘baby blues’. Postnatal depression affects 10-15% of women, and I’m being completely serious when I say that one thoughtless remark could potentially end someone’s life.
Of course I’m well aware that it isn’t just the older population who make unnecessary and hurtful comments about our parenting skills. I’m also not putting them all into the one box. But I do feel that some of them need a stark reminder:
Yes, times have changed, but one thing will always stay the same: being a new parent is hard. We are not perfect, but I’m guessing neither were you. We are doing our very best, and this is enough. If it’s not nice or going to improve my day – please just keep it to yourself!