If you ask me, anonymous avatars on the internet don’t need more license to shame parents and our children. But alas, a recent Lifehacker article by Patrick Allan explicitly asked non-parents to name their grievances against those people who deigned to bear kids. So fun, right? Total permission to be judgmental and cruel: Go!
Because hey, what’s better for page views than asking readers to crap all over parents? Not much, judging from the responses. Lots of them.
So what criticisms were flung at parents? Well, some are totally fair:
We post too many baby pictures. Talk too much about our children. Fine. Sometimes that’s true.
But the other complaints? Give me a break.
When asked how old our kids are, we really need to answer with the closest year, because non-parents just aren’t interested in doing the tough math to figure out the what a 14-month-old baby is in years. We have the nerve to be considerate enough to invite our friends to kids’ parties when those parties (gasp) DON’T HAVE ALCOHOL. Oh, and our kid-constrained schedules are bumming them out because ugh, naptime, amirite?
And because there’s nothing we love more than unsolicited parenting advice — especially from adults who have never had kids — plenty of commenters threw that in as an extra-special bonus. Yes, we would all love for our 11 month old (ha, see what I did there?) to never throw things, but that’s not how humans work, developmentally. Growing babies into well-behaved children is a process.
Now for the record, I’m brand new to the parenting gig (I’ll be here all night, for the next 18 years!), and so I remember — vividly — what it’s like to not have children.
I can assure you that my life was valid and meaningful before kids, just like the lives of adults who don’t have children, by choice or circumstance. I’m cool with them, and frankly, it’s not okay when parents feel the need to convince their non-parent friends that their lives are somehow inferior.
But I’m not cool with articles explicitly requesting cruelty towards others. Whoever those others might be.
(Ed: Can you imagine an article called “What Grievances Do You Have Against Your Friends with Disabilities?” Or “What Grievances Do You Have Against Your Friends Who Make Less Money Than You?” )
Another anti-parent sentiment from @OverheardNewYork with 26,000 likes.
Because cursing out a woman who says “excuse me” is like, so great!
And celebrating someone who calls a strangers, Bitch? Always a good idea!
So I know you’re waiting for me to hit back with my own list of grievances about the child-free people of the world.
Where is that going to get us?
We all need a little more consideration of each other. Whatever our circumstances.
So to start, there are some things I want you to know.
I want you to know that navigating the world with an infant means yes, I have different needs than a person without children. I need sidewalk ramps, changing tables, and a public place to nurse that’s not a dirty toilet stall. And while I have just one child, there are even more needs from parents who may be maneuvering around Manhattan with 5 children under 10, Jim Gaffigan style.
I want you to know that when a baby won’t stop crying in a restaurant or on an airplane, there’s generally no one more stressed about it than the parent. LifeHacker even has a great article about smart ways to get kids to stop crying and manage their emotions — and we seek out that content as parents, because none of us fantasize about going through life with tantrum-throwing, inconsolable children.
I also want you to know that new parents are likely in the most vulnerable state of their lives. And reading cruel comments about us (“stop procreating, bitch”) hurts. A lot. Even if we should be thicker-skinned, maybe we’re just not there yet.
We’re all human. And we all have a right to be here, figuring stuff out as we go along, and getting support from others.
I will always be grateful to the kind receptionist at my dentist’s office who offered to hold my newborn while I had a painful cavity filled because I just couldn’t find a sitter that day. The same way, I’m sure some of you may be grateful to, say, the kind stranger who called you a cab when you drank way too many cosmos before dinner, then waited with you outside, so that the creeper at the bar didn’t take advantage of the situation.
Maybe that kind stranger was even a parent.
Yes, babies may fuss and poop and need extra help understanding the rules of Settlers of Catan, but guess what? You did too, not too many years ago.
And who comforted you, wiped your butt, taught you to say thank you and please, and explained the board game rules a 50th time? A parent, I’m guessing. Who probably relied on a lot of kindness in his or her own life to get through the tough times.
So here’s a lifehack for you haters out there: stop hating.
You’ll feel better too.
Top photo: Patricia Prudente on Unsplash