Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Parenting Fact #248 - When you have a kid, everyone has an opinion. It seems like I lived my first 30 years with little to no public interjection whatsoever. I can't recall too many instances where complete strangers ever made a point to remind me of my flaws, weaknesses and/or any other somewhat social infringement that I may have made.
I've never been questioned on my ability to care for myself nor has anyone ever impugned my intelligence or common sense. Wait, I retract that statement... I'm sure there have been some instances of belittlement but for the most part I must have an innate ability to tune people out when it comes to editorial comments regarding myself. Not a bad skill to have in some circumstances.
Then, you become a parent and the friendly, albeit unsolicited, advice begins to roll in like a plague of locust. Well, maybe not locust... but a plague of some epic proportions just the same. This I am sure of.
It seems as though the very moment you brandish your newborn, you've seemingly opened Pandora's Box of Public Parenting. Scrutiny is abundant. Suddenly, everybody has something to say. And when I mean that they have something to say, I mean get your tissues out and refill your Xanax because all censoring of any sorts is out the window. There is no sugar coating. People just start saying exactly what they're thinking. And, they're really owning it!
My first experience was over socks. Yes, socks. While both my mother and mother-in-law may believe that this originated with them, it actually occurred during our first real outing to Target when my son was 8 days old. He was securely fastened in his carrier and snuggled under a temperature appropriate blanket. At some point during our outing, his abnormally long foot slipped from underneath its cover. And just like that, I exposed my newbie parenting flaws to the world. A lady approached me and asked if his sock had fallen off. I replied that he wasn't wearing socks and was quickly informed that he should be wearing socks!!! For goodness sakes, he could catch pneumonia and that would surely set off a series of events that would forever cripple him both physically and emotionally. That was it - because of his lack of socks he was now destine to never spacewalk, become President of the United States or cure a particularly heinous disease - one having to do with feet, I'm sure.
Now, here's my theory about newborns and socks...
They don't really need them. They fall off within minutes of putting them on their tiny, itty bitty feet and they're a booger to keep up with in the wash.
Now, here's my theory on opinions...
Everyone has one.
Yup, that's pretty much it on that one. After really thinking about it, I've figured two things out when it comes to people's opinions...
1. People's opinions often (and easily) get the better of them. There's a lot of energetic passion behind how people feel about certain things...like socks, for instance. People just have an impulsive need to share.
2. Most (and I emphasize MOST) opinions come from a good place, regardless of how the message was delivered.
So the next time you're faced with an opinionated know-it-all, simply smile and say "I did not know that, thank you so very much sharing that information with me." They walk away feeling as though they've made an effort to make the world more of "their kind of place" and you'll probably just get a good laugh. Everybody wins.