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5 Busybodies Who Want to Parent Your Kids

And why you don't have to listen to them.

by
Paula Bolyard

Bio

February 25, 2013 - 1:38 pm

2. Friends

The pressure begins very early—the prenatal mommy wars are some of the worst. When I was pregnant with our second child, several of our friends were expecting babies around the same time. We enjoyed sharing our pregnancies together and cheered and encouraged each other through bouts of morning sickness, miscarriage scares, bed rest, and false alarms.

We also obsessed together over diet, exercise, prenatal vitamins, and the decision about breastfeeding. I admit that I felt pressure and decided to breastfeed because the rest of my friends all planned to do it and I didn’t want to be the “bad mom” who started her kid out on the bottle. It ended up being a bad decision for a number of reasons. I’m not anti-breastfeeding and I certainly do recognize the wonderful health benefits, but for our family, it was the wrong decision and we went through weeks of misery because I let the opinions of my friends weigh too heavily in my decision-making process. I failed to remember: I am the parent, I know what’s best for my child.

When the time came for our son to begin kindergarten and we decided to try homeschooling, one friend exclaimed, “But what about the prom?” Terrible mother that I am, I hadn’t even given it a thought (he was only 5 years old!).

That was a make-or-break moment for me in our homeschooling journey and in the development of our parenting philosophy. Back in 1996 homeschoolers weren’t “out” to the extent they are today. Especially in the early years, we faced many questions about our decision to homeschool. Some friends were genuinely curious and asked innocent questions. Others expressed serious concern that our children would be social misfits. Every homeschooler (parents and kids alike) deals with a zillion questions about the “S” word—socialization.

While it’s always good and important to seek advice before making important decisions, your friends’ priorities may be different from those of your family. With major parenting decisions it’s important to zoom out and look at the big picture. A complex array of values, preferences, and beliefs form your family’s unique ethos and determine your choices and priorities, and even your best-intentioned friends may not share those priorities. The “prom question” actually helped us to think through the long-term consequences of homeschooling and cemented our decision to continue. Once you make your decision, own it and remember: You’re the parents and you’re capable of making the best decisions for your kids.

[As it turned out, our son who never went to school attended two proms his senior year and our son who attended public school for his final two years of high school didn’t go to the prom.]

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Top Rated Comments   
I've always hated the old line "as the parent you know best". Because it's not true. As a parent it is your decision, and it's true that no one knows your kids like you do. But a) this can place a burden on people who think they should *know* what is right simply because they are parents and b) gives way too many people a cover for bad decisions.

I agree with the fact that these people can be pushy and overstep their roles, but there is a lot of room between a well informed parent and child abuse where asometimes you need a kick in the butt from friends, family, or professionals. No one knows everything, but some of those people might know more than you, so listen up.

How many times have you heard "You just don't UNDERSTAND"? I get sick of it from other parents I know. I don't offer the advice, but I know plenty of people that make really bad decisions (like giving in to whiny kids) because it's just easier. You can watch it happen and then watch their confusion when their kid grows up to be a brat.

I'm a conservative. I don't ascribe to the non-judgmental lifestyle. I don't condemn someone after observing them for a few minutes (like the grocery store example), but "parents know best" just isn't going to convince me of anything.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Of course if you ask any of those people to parent your children then you shouldn't be surprised when they actually do.
Likewise if you impose your children on them you should not be surprised when they impose themselves on you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
"Parent" is not a verb and people who use it as such are typical of the busybodies who want to take charge of you and your children.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't have any children of my own, my older sister cured me of that by having four of her own that I got the "pleasure" of babysitting for in my late pre-teens/teenage years. :) I remember the summer she brought her first boy for his first visit with his grand mother. Mom took one look at the little bundle of joy and started pulling off and throwing blankets, coats, sweaters and such in all directions to get to the poor little baby somewhere in all those clothes. My sister had the poor guy dressed for winter in Alaska. Other than that Sis did a pretty good job.

Later on, while in the Service, we had a company party where dependents were invited to attend. One of the wives was a new mother. I was watching as some of us were playing cards and the young mother was feeding her baby a bottle. When the baby had eaten all it wanted, the mother sat the kid on her lap, grabbed it by the throat and started patting it on the back. After getting no results, the mother asked if I would mind holding the kid while she played cards. I said sure, and as soon as I got ahold of the kid, I put him up on my shoulder and began patting him on the back. I managed to get a great big belch and barf out of him. The mother looked at us like she had never seen such a thing. she got back at me when the kid needed changing and she handed me one of those new-fangled plastic diapers with the sticky tape fasteners though.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Believe me, none of those people want to parent other people's children, they do it because parents fail to.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One year we were taking care of a high school senior and went to back to school night. My wife made an innocent remark to her English teacher about the thinness of the required reading list. The teacher got snarky and told her that she won't advise my wife on her job if my wife wouldn't advise her. My wife isn't confrontational so she refrained from telling the teacher that she had graduate degrees (that is plural) in Russian Literature. and was far more qualified to judge the content of a high school literature class than someone who had a degree in education.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Shocking, the situation you describe with your 12 YO son and the female physician asking him about sex and his predilections. After insisting that you be leave the room.

Her interaction with your son should be strictly medical. It seems a kind of prurient sense of entitlement & superiority that would lead a physician to ask such questions of a boy.

Seriously watch out for "ex-spurts" stepping over their boundaries into areas they have no business going. You may wind up with advice/"counseling" from people screwed up beyond your wildest imagination.

(Speaking of overstepping boundaries, under "Obamacare", physicians are encouraged to ask questions of patients about gun ownership in the home.)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is probably only going to get worse with Obamacare. Apparently, physicians can and will be empowered to ask all sorts of prying, personal questions like that for the records if they can even tangentially be related to health.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If much of todays generations knew anything about parenting or were responsible parents, there probably wouldn't be as many 'experts' out there hawking their socalled superior knowledge.

Want to see first hand, the breadth and depth of bad parenting in America today, spend about five too ten years as a classroom teacher in the elementary and middle school grades. The sadest part, is that this bad and zero parenting crosses all socio-economic lines! Something else you would see all to much, is grandparents having custodial rights and and or grandparents doing most of the parenting to whatever degree possible.

Most children today have very little if any 'quality' family and parenting time with their parental families. Most families leave such repsonsibilities up to educators and whomever else is willing to provide it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Actually, the experts are out in record numbers because of an explosion of media. They're all trying to sell us something, ultimately, and their numbers do not reflect the quality of parents.

There have always been bad parents. When I grew up, the kids could tell which of their friends were beaten and abused, but the adults never stepped in to stop it because it wasn't 'their business'. Frankly, I prefer the aspects of today's parenting climate that protects kids. Sure, some of it can be intrusive to parents who aren't savvy, but ask a kid who's been beaten how he feels about the doctor who put a stop to it and you may get an earful.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've gotten great advice from doctors, teachers, friends, family and yes, even store clerks. It's important, and in our children's best interest, for us to remain open to any dialogue that could potentially teach us something.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've always hated the old line "as the parent you know best". Because it's not true. As a parent it is your decision, and it's true that no one knows your kids like you do. But a) this can place a burden on people who think they should *know* what is right simply because they are parents and b) gives way too many people a cover for bad decisions.

I agree with the fact that these people can be pushy and overstep their roles, but there is a lot of room between a well informed parent and child abuse where asometimes you need a kick in the butt from friends, family, or professionals. No one knows everything, but some of those people might know more than you, so listen up.

How many times have you heard "You just don't UNDERSTAND"? I get sick of it from other parents I know. I don't offer the advice, but I know plenty of people that make really bad decisions (like giving in to whiny kids) because it's just easier. You can watch it happen and then watch their confusion when their kid grows up to be a brat.

I'm a conservative. I don't ascribe to the non-judgmental lifestyle. I don't condemn someone after observing them for a few minutes (like the grocery store example), but "parents know best" just isn't going to convince me of anything.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
@MC88...I agree with you in part--not all ideas/ideologies are equal and I strongly disagree with the way some (many) parents raise their children. Still, in a free country, they have the right to raise their kids however they want (within the confines of the law).

One of the major cases that the right to attend private school and homeschool is based upon is Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925). SCOTUS said that children are not "mere creatures of the state." That's the other choice if we as a society don't accept the premise that "parents know best."

[FWIW, and OT, I disagree with the court's acceptance of the Due Process Clause as the basis for this freedom. I agree with Justice Anthony Kennedy who has said it could have been decided as a 1st Amendment case.]
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Of course if you ask any of those people to parent your children then you shouldn't be surprised when they actually do.
Likewise if you impose your children on them you should not be surprised when they impose themselves on you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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