Passionate About Boston
and the Moms Who Live Here

Dad Post: Judgmental Parenting — Are You Guilty?

Last week our nation was split once again. Though this time it was not Democrats versus Republicans or Coke versus Pepsi. This time it was the owner of Marcy’s Diner in Portland, Maine, versus the parents of a 21-month-old girl.

We all read the articles, and most of us formed some sort of opinion. I decided to check out the comments sections on a few Facebook posts and articles, and wow! The comments were either calling for the diner to be boycotted or, more prevalently, stating what horrible parents these people must be to let their child scream that long in a public place.

Those complaining about the diner owner were understandably parents, but the girl’s parents were being attacked by both non-parents and parents alike. Most comments started with “I would never let my child…” or, “If that were me…” I fully admit that my gut reaction was along the same lines: “I would have taken my child outside.” I am sitting here calmly reading the article, so of course that’s what I would do. Case closed, opinion formed.
scales of justice-judgmental parenting: are you guilty?
A day or two passed before I came across an article in the Washington Post written by the mother of the now-famous toddler at the center of the controversy. She explained her side of the story. And that’s when I realized what I’d done. I was guilty of one of my own pet peeves. I judged another parent. The parents were in a stressful situation and were likely doing their best. We’ve all been there.
Judging others without all the facts is extremely common, but I have found that it is especially rampant in the realm of parenthood. It usually begins shortly after you tell someone you’re expecting. You’re delivering at the hospital? You’re planning a homebirth? You aren’t finding out the sex? You are finding out the sex? You’re planning an all-natural birth? You want an epidural? And these kinds of questions don’t seem to stop when you become a parent. (You let your kid stay up past 8 p.m.? You aren’t enrolling her in soccer?)
Parenting advice is great, especially when it is sought after. But going forward, can we all add some sort of caveat before it is given? “This worked for me,” or “this may not be universal, but…” Something like that. Too many parents act as if they have this parenting gig locked down. They know what to do to get a fussy infant to nap or to take a bottle. They know how to potty train a toddler. They know how to teach a 4-year-old to do calculus. Are any of us that perfect of a parent? My wife and I are pretty good parents (pat on back), but, like most of you we are just doing our best. We love our kids, we are intelligent people, and we were raised by great parents ourselves. That’s all we have to work with. No manual— just trial by fire for us moms and dads. Parenting is a really hard job that is never finished, but the rewards can last forever.
I am going to continue my effort to abstain from judgement. Every kid is different, and they all have different needs. What worked for my kid may not work for your kid. This past week was a good reminder for me.

andrew gelles

Andrew Gelles is the proud father of two girls, one welcomed in August 2011 and the other born in April 2015. He has been married to his wife Jessica since July 2008. Andrew is a Boston-lifer. Born in Boston, raised in Newton, educated at UMass Amherst (which is as far away from Boston as he has ever lived) and now resides in Natick.

Andrew has been in the Sporting Goods business since 2000 and is a Boston sports fanatic (especially the Red Sox and Patriots). He enjoys playing golf, great food, music, movies, the beach and spending as much time as possible with his family and friends.

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