The Return of the Parenting Police – Things you shouldn’t say to parents of an only child

When you have your first baby, one of the biggest realisations in motherhood is that there is a special group of advisors out there. Ones that you didn’t know existed. They are an integral part of our society and they serve to make the world a better place. They are full of advice on what and how you should be raising that new born baby of yours and will willingly dish it out any time you make eye contact. Failing that, they will do it over the phone. They shall find a way. Most don’t even realise they have this coveted role.

They are the parenting police.

It can be fairly traumatic to be bombarded by all the advice and comments about how you are doing every thing wrong and how you should be doing it like *this*. Everything is so new when you first become a mum and throwing a bunch of “Oracles” into the equation can be really stressful. And parenting police will vary in their advice which means you can quite easily get contradictory advice on everything from how to lay your baby down to sleep, to feeding to dressing them to sleeping routines. So on top of being completely sleep deprived, overwhelmed and completely knackered, you literally won’t know if you’re coming or going when it comes to raising your baby in the “correct” way.

Never fear though. All this well meaning (and rarely, not so well meaning) advice does eventually go away. It’s usually when you stop looking like a rabbit in the head lights and stop sobbing on a weekly basis about how its all so hard. You grow a thicker skin and become confident in your mothering abilities and and eventually let it slide off you like water off a ducks back.

What I didn’t realise though is that the Parenting Police doesn’t go away completely. They simply go into hibernation for a while. Ready to surface again when the world needs them once more. Ready to rise. With the next stage of advice. When to have your NEXT baby!

And if you have one child around the age of 2 or above then, it seems, the time for you is right now. It is time for you to have another child! And this will be advised to you in varying ways. Some very subtley put. Others a lot more bluntly. Most, of course, well meaning. Other just being nosey and wanting to understand why you aren’t following a life plan timeline you haven’t been informed of. All reminding you that this policing squad are still out there. Determined to keep the world populated. Ensuring the gaps between children are not too big. Or too small. But just right.

If you do realise that YOU are one of the parenting police (Like I said, you may not even know it!), then here’s some top things I think you just shouldn’t say out loud.

1. Don’t leave too big / too small a gap between the two – its not good.
2. You’re getting on a bit now.
3. You should have 2, 3, 4 (Depending on who you speak to).
3. Only children don’t know how to share (Eh? Whaaa?)
4. I’m pretty sure he wants a sibling. He’s alluding to it / said it. (Eh?)
5. Is there something wrong (Eh person I don’t know that well!)
6. It would be good if you had a boy / girl next (Eh? Ok…Abracadabra! Oh wait, no that doesn’t work.)
7. Asking if the person has “any news” every month or so – with added knowing looks. (No no no no no no …)

Say it first in your head and ask yourself “Is this really necessary? Do I sound like the parenting police?”. As Thumper’s mum once said in the movie Bambi, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” is always a good approach to take.

This time my wings are like a shield of steel! This time I will bat your comments away. Mostly. Probably. Possibly.



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24 Comments

  1. Jess @ Along Came Cherry September 23, 2013 / 8:29 am

    Haha I hate it when people make comments about things. One of my real hates is when people say ‘you’re brave’ – when I flew over to Spain with Cherry ages 3 months the steward said ‘wow you’re brave’ as I got on the plane and I did something with both kids the other month and someone commented I was ‘brave’. Probably the same type of person who would have made comments like the ones you’ve mentioned! And since when did leaving the house with kids make you ‘brave’?! Ridiculous! x

  2. kate September 23, 2013 / 8:44 am

    “Wanting to understand why you aren’t following a life plan timeline you haven’t been informed of” ha ha that’s what I feel like too.I always just reply with I really like this one thanks πŸ™‚

  3. suzanne3childrenandit September 23, 2013 / 10:01 am

    A funny post but oh I do feel for you. Why do people do this? What makes them think it is indeed any of their business? I did question myself mind you…on whether I could be classed as part of the ‘parenting police’ and I think the only time to give advice is when you’ve been asked. And that’s it!

  4. Emily Morgan September 23, 2013 / 10:21 am

    Brilliant post!
    This is no happening to me that M is approaching two.
    “Aww wouldn’t it be nice to have another one now?”
    “Don’t leave too big a gap you will forget how it’s all done”
    “Do you not want anymore? That’s a bit selfish of you if you don’t”

    To these I say it’s non of your bloody business! When G and I decide the time is definitely right we shall TTC until now bugger off and leave us alone!

  5. 3yearsandhome September 23, 2013 / 12:32 pm

    Ha! Funny. So come on then … doesn’t Little Z want a sister? I presume you want one of each? You best get a move on, you’re not getting any younger. And you know only children are just dreadfully behaved.

    The Swiss are shocking at offering unwanted advice. I regularly get stopped in the street about BB not wearing socks (he hates them). It’s still 20 degrees here and despite him being fully clothes, the lack of socks really bothers them and I’m constantly being told that he’s going to get sick.

  6. Erica Price September 23, 2013 / 1:37 pm

    I’ve had all of this. Seem to have stopped asking now H is 6. Only 4 more years …

  7. WallyMummy September 23, 2013 / 1:52 pm

    God I know them well… *shudders*… But I found the only thing they made me do was not want to ever offer advice to any one with babies/ young children EVER and deliberately do the opposite of everything they say πŸ™‚ #boom x lol

  8. Sarah MumofThree World September 23, 2013 / 4:14 pm

    Cheeky sods! People can be so nosy! Especially asking if something is wrong. What if it is? What if someone’s having a really traumatic time and doesn’t want to share their private business?

  9. My Fourtography life September 23, 2013 / 6:10 pm

    Could totally relate to this. I have to say though the parenting police start BEFORE birth. Because of course everyone wants to advise you on how to have the perfect birth using their experiences (which they will tell you about at length including everything which went wrong/was agony). The other big milestone in the parenting police life is toilet training. Suddenly they come out in force to etll you how to do it – because your child is obviously a carbon copy of their child – and of course they got it 100% right first time. πŸ™‚

  10. katie September 23, 2013 / 8:17 pm

    β€œIs this really necessary? Do I sound like the parenting police?” LOVE this πŸ˜‰

    Great post – am really really hoping i never turn into the parenting police – they suck.

  11. Franglaise Mummy September 23, 2013 / 9:15 pm

    Oh this is so familiar. There are 6 years between our two daughters and I was always being asked why we weren’t giving L a sibling – I always replied that it was on our to do list but we hadn’t got round to it yet. Now she has her baby sister I get asked if they have the same father or why we waited so long to have the second one – I didn’t realise that timeline existed either. But you know what – a 6 year age gap is bloody amazing, and I have zero regrets! Good luck for next time Batfink πŸ˜‰

  12. Actually Mummy... September 23, 2013 / 9:55 pm

    Quite right, although sadly I’m sure I’ve been there, pre-parenting, when I didn’t know what the guff I was on about. Apologies to anyone I’ve done that to, you know I’d hate it if you did it to me πŸ™‚

  13. Jo September 23, 2013 / 9:56 pm

    This did make me laugh, and I’ve heard so many of the comments, especially regarding baby 2 as my little boy is now approaching 2.

    One of the things I learnt quickly as a first time mum was to not judge other mums, as we’re all doing our best and what works for us might not work for someone else.

    I’m pretty sure the parenting police will be out in full force as soon as I mention we’re starting potty training. And I’m already terrified at the thought!

    • Denise September 23, 2013 / 11:03 pm

      Yes yes yes to what you said about not judging.

      Sometimes I get so embarrassed thinking about the younger me and the things I thought I knew.

  14. Denise September 23, 2013 / 11:02 pm

    Hi – just linked to your blog through mummytries…

    Don’t want to depress anyone, but years ago, I wondered why a woman I knew had a teenager and a tot. That must be hard work, I thought.

    I was young then and thought I knew everything about how to organise your life.

    And then one day she casually mentioned that she had had four miscarriages in the gap. It taught me a lot about assuming.

  15. Charly Dove September 23, 2013 / 11:15 pm

    Brilliant post Tas, I was laughing most of the way through it. I get a lot of the same comments as you do it seems although POD and Z are a similar age. Odd how people feel the need to comment. My best one ever was a doctor saying to me, you really should have had a child before you were 35 the year I was turning 40 πŸ™‚

  16. older mum in a muddle September 24, 2013 / 8:57 am

    Great post, and one I can really relate to as Little A is an only child. It’s no one else’s business FF Sakes! And as for the timeless myth of only children not being able to share – what a load of old cobblers, Little A is great at sharing! X.

  17. Helen September 24, 2013 / 10:10 am

    Very well put indeed. Made me chuckle!

  18. HonestMum September 24, 2013 / 10:30 am

    Brilliant post! Back seat parents I call them! Everyone has an opinion when you have a baby and yes people do ask. I think a lot of the time, it’s to make conversation, fill a gap. A lot if well meaning, other times it’s plain annoying!

  19. Mothergeek September 24, 2013 / 12:16 pm

    I broke the parenting police law by having 2 so close together, and am now mostly an outcast as their advice is useless on such a screwed up family. Result! πŸ˜‰ PS: I always found “none of your business” was a very effective response πŸ˜› xx

  20. Katie @mummydaddyme September 24, 2013 / 9:59 pm

    Trying to think if I have ever said any of these to you! ;0)

    No 3 Only children don’t know how to share is my favourite! How funny! x

  21. Mama and More aka Zaz September 25, 2013 / 8:35 am

    I think the only thing worse than listening to the parent police harp on is that sinking feeling when you realise you may be one in that moment!

  22. Charlotte September 25, 2013 / 8:10 pm

    Fab post! Please can I borrow your bat wings as I am so not ready to have another baby. x x

  23. Sonya Cisco September 28, 2013 / 10:16 am

    People are so bloody nosy arent they! We get ‘you next’ type wedding comments all the time. The fact that we are both divorced, happy as we are and have no intention of getting married doesn’t seem to get through to anyone!

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