Yesterday, my wife and I were talking about what we thought of people judging the parenting skills of others. Her position was that with two years’ experience, with one child, no less, who are we to judge.
There are few areas where people will get more defensive than with their parenting skills. If I was to challenge someone’s religion, four out of five people would tolerate it patiently and reasonably, whether they engaged in an argument/discussion or not. But if I challenged their parenting, most people would dig in their heels pretty firmly. It could even come to blows, though I haven’t tested this theory. If anyone wants to try it and get back to me, I’d be glad to hear about your results. (I feel like I should put in a legal disclaimer here, like “The writer and affiliates of Somewhat Epic to not endorse the provocation of violence over parenting opinions.” If you get your ass handed to you over such an argument, it’s your own damn fault).
Look at it this way; have you ever been critical of something your parents did? Do you wish that there was a friend or relative close by to ask if an action or technique was in the child’s best interests? I wouldn’t endorse some kind of Parenting Police, but if we raised our kids with a sense of accountability to our community, would it change some of our practices? More importantly, would we re-think our reactions?
Of course, this could easily go too far the other way, such as hitting or indulging a crying child because a parent feels embarrassed at the supermarket. I’m glad that the public-hitting has decreased, but like every revolution, it may have swung too far the other way.
It reminds me of a conversation that I had with a friend, where his sociology teacher was speaking of being judgmental of other cultures. I truly enjoy the differences of other cultures, but the example he used was female circumcision. Really? With everything that we may find questionable, he chose the mutilation of young girls in a patriarchal society? Couldn’t he have picked something dietary, like dog-eating? Or how about how Asian cuisine lacks cheese? Ludicrous! Sure to be a lively discussion, but with valid points on both sides.
Do you think that we have an obligation to address parenting faults? How about putting our own techniques and styles under scrutiny? I’m pretty confident in my parenting, but I bet that I’d be pretty uncomfortable with a critique. I hope that I’d handle it reasonably and maturely, though. At this time, I am unwilling to offer criticisms to other parents, mostly because of my limited experience.