Keep your damned opinions to yourself…


A friend of mine sent me this message last night…

“Just had an interesting parenting experience at the park this evening….I am so mad that I feel like writing about it….Have you ever had the experience of dealing with toddler tantrums at the park and having some stranger who is walking by yell out that you are basically being a horrible parent because you are ignoring the tantrum (and therefore trying not to give into your child)?

It’s hard enough to be a parent without feeling the judging eyes of people around you (would bet any money this woman was the perfect parent…i.e. one without a child yet!).”

Have you ever experienced unsolicited comments (from judgmental strangers) about how you parent your children?  How do you react?  Would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences!

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  1. I hate to say it but I lip off ppl. I don’t need to feel judged when i’m out, it is hard enough taking them out. I always try to give the “sympathy smile” to parents I see struggling along. I know what it is like, sometimes it is nice to just get a little validation the “sympathy smile” or “I know how you feel look” is how I convey that. Thankfully I haven’t had to lip anyone off in the last three years :D.

  2. Yep, I do the ‘sympathy smile’ too. One time, I actually went up to a mom and gave her a high five for not giving in to her child’s tantrum =)

  3. That was my email to Melissa and I want to elaborate on the above scenario. My daughter who is three had been happily playing at the park for an hour and half with her sister, dad and I when this tantrum occurred. We were warning the girls well in advance of the impending departure from the park but for my three year old, transitions have been difficult lately. She went from being a placid, agreeable child to a three year old fiesty, scream at the drop of a hat toddler. And when I say scream, I mean really high pitched, loud desperate sounding screams. When she was told for the final time we were going, she unleashed this scream as she wanted to stay on go on the swings (for the 6th time that visit). When my husband told her to come and started walking, she lost it. She eventually followed (I was standing about 25 feet away) but refused to exit the park through the opening in the fence. Instead she stood screaming at us on the other side of the fence. She knew were the exit was, just refused to go….we never left her more than a few feet away, we didn’t yell, we just waited for her to join us. During this time, a woman walked by and heard and saw this scene. She yelled in a aggressive tone “can’t you see she is terrified (or upset or something similar)!” she then continued yelling while walking away from us. I am trying to give her the benefit of the doubt…maybe she thought we were going to leave her at the park? Maybe she has abandonment issues? But whatever it was, it didn’t feel good. She never stuck around to see the xonclusion (which if she was really concerned about the welfare of my child then she should have and maybe we could have had a conversation about the situation). If she had, she would have seen us pick her up and carry her home while she screamed “I want to swing” all the way home (we are close to the park) and then her eventual recovery once we walked in the door and she was distracted by a toy on the floor….once again a happy little girl. Parents get criticized for not sticking to our guns, letting our kids run wild and no having consequences. The problem
    is we also are criticized if we try and deal
    with a learning opportunity in public if it involves screaming that others have to listen to. We just can’t win sometimes! I would have love to ask her, “please, tell me what I should do in this scenario? Should we let her have whatever she wants when she screams? Is that what makes a good parent and a respectful child? As parents, it can cut us to the core if people accuse us of being terrible at the most important job we have, loving and teaching our kids.

  4. My toddler was a screamer – sigh – and I’ve had a couple of instances when strangers were rude enough to comment negatively on my child’s behaviour or my parenting. My standard retort was “I bet you did your fair share of crying and whining when you were a baby!” I know, not particularly clever, but it always shut them up!

  5. Maybe if her parents had given her a little more discipline she wouldn’t be so rude.
    Hold your head up high and teach your daughter to handle criticism by rising above unsolicited offside remarks. You know in your heart you were doing what was right for your daughter. This woman was getting a 2 second glimpse of the worst moments of your ordeal. To her it must have looked like you were threatening your daughter with leaving her at the park. You know that isn’t true. Good for you for sticking to your word.
    The worst thing to a toddler is transition…like you mentioned. We always found with our little guys that having something tangible (instead of a clock) helped ease them out of the park (or toystore or playdate). After several warnings that leaving the park is coming up soon, we say “We are going home in 10 more swings (or something equally relevant) or you can have them choose their very last activity. Then we go on “..okay?…10 more swings, let’s count to 10 together and then we are going home.” It sounds so repetitive, but that’s the point. When you know she has heard you, count down with her. After the 10 swings, remind her that you said you were going home in 10 swings and that it is time to go home now. She will probably still scream. Empathize that you know it’s hard to leave the park. Then we always get them to say “Goodbye” to the park and remind them that we will come back tomorrow. Somehow the saying goodbye or goodnight to something seems to help with the transitions and reminding them that we will come back again relieves some anxiety that they will never see the swings again. “Bye Park, see you tomorrow park!”

    Perhaps you did precisely this…you never know what is going to work on what days! I just wanted to share some techniques that have worked for us just in case they can be helpful.
    It sounds like you are a great Mom!

    • Thanks ladies for your comments….I know I shouldn’t care what a random stranger thinks. Just re-read my last post…clearly it was written in a rush…so many typos! Thanks “just another mom”‘ for the supportive message. I have used many of the tactics you mention but my feisty little one will still protest transitions from time to time. It’s funny because my 5 and a half year old seems to finally be outgrowing her tantrums and now my little one has taken over the role as the “spirited” daughter! Never a dull moment!

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