Thanks, but I know how to parent my kid

One thing that annoys the hell out of me is when strangers decide they want to give me parenting advice. Granted, I’m not exactly thrilled when people I know (and love) feel the need to stick their two cents in and tell me what to do with my kid, but at least I know they mean well. After all, they have a genuine concern for my and my son’s wellfare. They also are just trying to be helpful.

My mother is sometimes the worst about this. Again, I know she means well. She loves all her grandchildren, and is even helping to raise two of them. So she gets a lot of exposure to little ones. But still. When we went to visit her, she asked what my son should drink with breakfast. I told her milk, since he only drinks milk and water.

I realize he’s old enough and could have juice, but as my pediatrician pointed out (and I’m 100% behind her on this one), once kids get juice, it’s often all they want. Juice, even the 100% stuff, is full of empty calories, and lots of them. He can get fewer calories, that aren’t processed at all through the actual fruit, which is how we choose to fill that food group requirement. Plus, while I don’t want to give my kid a complex about his weight at any age, I know what it’s like to fight with weight, and why get him started on empty calories?

Now, my nephews drink juice. Which is fine, it’s my sister’s (more my mom’s) choice. I don’t say a word about it. Whatever works for them. However, when I tell my mom about the no juice thing, she says, “really, man, I don’t know how you lived, I gave you juice all the time.” Sure, the juice didn’t kill me, but it didn’t do me any good either. And those kinds of comments just drive me nuts. Guess what, the world progresses. People used to think the earth was flat.

Now, I realize that parenting trends come and go, but considering the amazing rate of childhood diabetes these days and the fast food, high sugar diets I see so many of my students chugging down, I think there might be something to this juice thing. Besides, my kid loves milk and water, and they are better for him.

My sitter does the same kind of thing. Now, she’s a nice lady and I trust her with my kid, but sometimes her advice drives me nuts! I realize she raised three kids (who are all nice, smart, fairly well-adjusted people) and that she’s done this whole babysiting gig for like 20 years now. She’s seen a lot come and go. As a result, she often feels the need to correct my parenting.

For example, we decided (on the advice of our pediatrician, who is also pretty darn experienced, and SEVERAL books and articles) to hold off giving our son peanut butter until he hit 2. Although neither I nor my husband have any food allergies, we still figured it was better to be safe than sorry. The number of kids with peanut allergies has greatly increased in recent years and it is such a life threatening allergy, why risk it? We waited until two in part so he’d be better able to communicate with us if something did go wrong.

Now, my sitter feeds him lunch every day. When he started eating table food instead of the mushy baby stuff, she asked what he could eat. I gave her the list and told her to avoid peanut butter. She was very put out by this because the little girl she also sits loves peanut butter. Now, I wasn’t telling her not to have it or serve it to anyone else, just not to my kid. She sighed and I could tell she was rolling her eyes (on the inside). She proceeded to tell me how it was completely unlikely he’d have a peanut allergry, how paranoid doctors were these days and how she’d never had a kid with any peanut allergies before.

I took a deep breathe, told her of a co-worker whose two year old had just been diagnosed (after his daycare worker gave him a peanut butter cracker which sent him to the emergency room) and she relented a bit. I could tell she still thought I was being silly, but at least she agreed to lay off the peanut butter.

Turns out she was right (and I was pretty sure she would be) that my son didn’t have an allergy. He loves peanut butter. But, as he’s my son and I trust my research and my pediatrician, I did get annoyed.

Now, you may be wondering dear reader, what the catalyst to this post was. See, I was in the grocery store the other day with my son. We just had to run in to grab two items: a gallon of milk and a container of fabric softener. My son was already cranky because he wanted a cup of water and for once I didn’t have one in my car. I had to carry him in to the store and was headed toward the carts. Since he’s full on in the terrible twos, I’ve been trying to give him choices to make him feel more in control of his universe. So I asked him if he wanted to walk or ride, even though I was secretly praying he’d say ride so that I could get in quick and be able to get my purchases and him to the register.

Just as I finished the question, some random man in his early 60’s (I’d guess) decided to pipe up with his opinion. “Make him walk,” he said, “it’s good for him.” Thank you cantankerous old dude. I appreciate your advice, which my son heard and helped him decide to walk. Which meant he wanted to hold a basket to put our stuff in. Except he can’t hold it well, so he was walking at a snail’s pace, until I intervened and gave him the idea that we could both hold it as we tried to make our way through the aisles at quarter to 5. And best of all, I still had to hold the gallon of milk and try to carry the basket at his level.

Plus, when it was time to check out, my son didn’t want to get in line and started walking away. I got him back, but only barely. Then I was trying to carry a gallon of milk, a bag with liquid fabric softener in it and hold his hand while he crossed the street. Of course, halfway across he didn’t want to walk anymore, he wanted to be carried. I obviously didn’t have my hands full enough.

So thank you random grumpy old guy who decided you know what’s best for my kid–the kid who runs everywhere and never stops. Next time keep your damn opinions to yourself! Even if you happen to be a parent, you aren’t my kid’s parent, and unless I’m beating him in a Wal-Mart, I’m doing fine and your two cents aren’t needed.

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