There is a phenomenon that occurs with frustrating regularity to parents with young kids that needs to be addressed. Strangers - who tend to be white women over 50 - give unsolicited advice to a parent that is effectively a criticism of the parent. Often the focus is on the temperature of the child. Your child is too cold, she is saying, and you are an irresponsible mother. This happened to me today. So shocking that I barely realized it was happening until I felt the hot flash of shame and anger course through me when the woman in front of us in line said to the cashier: I can't believe how parents underdress their kids these days. This was after she had spoken to Ben, in what I had naively assumed was cute banter: It's nice out today but not that nice, where's your coat? I eventually found my voice and said calmly to her, We're doing just fine. And she replied as she walked away, Yeah right.
I hear stories like this all the time from friends and clients. Fragile raw new mothers sleep deprived overwhelmed and earnestly doing their damn best as a mom. These mothers are not looking for any advice, they deserve an encouraging smile. No one can imagine their story, their day, what they face.
Recently there was a mother who instead of responding with words simply shoved a critical woman down, and then with her baby left the store. Bravo, I say. I want to deliver a message to these women, maybe you know one or have been one, these entitled and righteous, wildly inaccurate and inappropriate women and their scolding advice: Find something purposeful to do with your time, your lazy superiority complex is in our way.