I freely admit this came to me from a thread on Babycenter Debate Team. Someone asked what stupid little things annoy you. I had a few to list that day and I realized I had more to say about one of my peeves than was warranted on what was meant to be a light hearted thread. So you get to hear all about it!
BBC (BabyCenterCommunity) has a Debate Team, where all kinds of parenting issues are discussed. Breastfeeding/Formula, Circumcision/Non-Circumcision, Potty Training, Harnesses, Car Seat's, Vaccinations, if it relates to Parenting, it comes up on Debate Team. Along with a host of other topics, but this peeve is on parenting. Actually it's on those parents that feel the need to criticize other parents. They always are careful to say, "It's just my opinion" and "I would never say something to them!" But they feel comfortable judging them. There are two main camps in these discussions. Those that feel parents that don't do as they do, that don't have perfect obedient children are lazy bums, and those that feel it's not their child, it's not their business, especially as they have learned parents have reasons for what they do. Inevitably in the course of debating the topic it will be said, that "well of course, this doesn't apply to children with special needs/medical issues."
My first thought is, my that's awfully big of you. So generous to grant those of us that have made a decision about our child an exemption from your disdain of our choice as long as we have a medical reason, or a child with special needs. Because that's just what I need from you. Yes, I am raising a child with special needs. That's a hard thing to say on a good day. The best I can do right now is hope that he makes the progress they tell us he could. On bad days, it's a self-accusation. So your so gracious excusing of me for not being a lazy parent is really not that generous. I don't need you to make excuses for my son.
My second thought is to wonder just how these people know that the child in question has special needs. Say you see a child that looks to be 4 years old in a harness, what's your thought? According to one camp on Debate Team, you are nothing more than a lazy parent that can't be bothered to teach your child to walk with you. The other camp smiles and says, "wait until you have a runner." And someone says, "well it's OK for kids with special needs." That's a great sentiment, but it's not like you can look at the child in question and know for certain they have special needs. So many special needs aren't visible. Sensory issues, autism, dyspraxia, cognitive delays, they all affect what choices a parent may make, but they aren't stamped on a child's forehead.
So why do people assume that the parent is lazy? Do they make themselves feel better by knowing that no matter what they do, it can't be lazy parenting because their child doesn't use a harness, a stroller, a pacifier, is potty trained..... The world must be a sad place for that kind of parent. They look around and see nothing but lazy parents, or bad parents. Why not take that oh so generous medical exemption one step further? Why not assume that every parent has made the decision that they feel best for their child and that they have thought it out and have an actual reason?
Think about what the world would look like then! Everywhere you look, no matter what you are seeing, it's full of parents that love their children, care about them and for them, and have taken the time to make the decision that they feel best allows their child to thrive. I may have on rose colored glasses, but I choose my world, the one where every parent is doing the best that they can over the one where every parent but me is lazy. The next time you see a child that you think is too old to be riding in a stroller, or wearing diapers, which world are you going to choose?