It seems as though everyone on the planet feels the need to question every decision a parent makes (Picture: Sarah Whiteley)
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for parents.
Paris Hilton, when sharing a rare picture of her beautiful baby Phoenix on Instagram, had her proud post highjacked with ‘cruel and hateful’ comments about the size of her little’s one head.
She was forced to reply, stating ‘Living life in the spotlight, comments are inevitable, but targeting my child, or anyone else’s for that matter, is unacceptable. This hurts my heart more deeply than words can describe… I’m a proud working mom and my baby is perfectly healthy, adorable and angelic.’
A restaurant in America has come under fire for dishing out extra charges for ‘adults unable to parent’, with one diner claiming, ‘The owner came out and told me he was adding $50 to my bill because of my children’s behaviour.’
Meanwhile, Stacey Solomon has felt pressured into responding to a woman who questioned that she had only fed her children homemade tomato soup for dinner.
‘Don’t worry Wilma, I didn’t give my kids just a ladle of soup each and then send them up to bed.’
For one thing, just how horrible can the general public be?
And for a second – what right does anyone have to question someone else’s parenting decisions?
I had a brief encounter this week myself, when I ran into my local card shop, asking if they had party cups in a particular colour. ‘I’ve left it until the last minute and it’s my son’s birthday party at the weekend,’ I admitted.
I’m his mother, it’s my decision what to feed him (Picture: Sarah Whiteley)
As the woman behind the till shook her head, another woman in the queue tutted at me. ‘You really need to learn to be more organised,’ she commented sharply.
She is completely right. I do need to be more organised.
However, it is far from her place to tell me that.
She doesn’t know that I have worked until 11pm every night, getting on top of my deadlines to take time off for half-term – as well as organising Theo’s sixth birthday party, buying presents for other children’s birthdays and arranging costumes for fancy-dress days at school and nursery.
As well as working my way through the other million and one other things on my never-ending to-do list.
But even if I had been relaxing with a cuppa in front of the television all day for the last week, she still has no right whatsoever to comment on how I am handling my job as a mam.
More from Platform
Platform is the home of Metro.co.uk’s first-person and opinion pieces, devoted to giving a platform to underheard and underrepresented voices in the media.
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Parenting columnist Sarah Whiteley is proud that her kids eat TV dinners from time to time and champions being a ‘good enough’ parent.
And finally, Emily Tisshaw was told her Halloween costume was offensive to disabled people by her taxi driver – it wasn’t long before he ate his words.
Yes, of course, there are some jobs where people are accountable to others. Rishi Sunak should definitely be questioned as to why he is going back on his green pledges and why more people than ever have been forced into depending on food banks under his time as prime minister.
But mums, and parents in general? I really don’t think so!
It seems as though everyone on the planet – friends, family and strangers alike – feels the need to question every decision a parent makes.
But unless there are suspicions of actual abuse or neglect – where obviously other people should step in every single time – it is quite frankly none of your business.
Just leave us alone!
I remember a mum coming into a baby group I used to go to on the brink of tears because an old woman had stopped her in the street and told her that her baby should really be wearing socks.
It was boiling hot in July and the baby in question had already kicked off (and lost) three pairs in the time it had taken her to walk from her home to the class.
Other friends have had people questioning them on why they are bottle, rather than breast-feeding, their children (yes, really, in this day and age).
When we’re out in public together, people might see my family at its best (Picture: Sarah Whiteley)
I remember someone remarking, when I handed 18-month-old Theo a snack, that he was awfully young to be giving him chocolate. ‘It’s an organic fruit bar,’ I had to correct them in amazement.
But even if it had been chocolate – so what? I’m his mother, it’s my decision what to feed him.
Most of the time, when these incidents take place, it’s hard to know how to respond because you’re often so taken aback that anyone has presumed to comment on such a personal situation.
Yes, some of it might come from genuine concern or worry. Mostly though, I think it’s simply a mix of nosiness and assumption, with an unhealthy dollop of entitlement splashed in there too.
When we’re out in public together, people might see my family at its best.
Just last week, my daughter Immy, four, and I, I’m sure, made the picture-perfect scene as she picked books in the local library and cuddled into my side as I read them to her.
But that same afternoon, they may have also seen me getting frustrated that she wouldn’t listen to me in a shop and, as she nearly ran into someone, I had to raise my voice to get her to stop.
Both incidents were only part of the full picture of our day – and it just shows that people are only ever treated to a glimpse of family life that is hardly ever in context.
Parents – certainly mums – question themselves constantly already, always wondering if we are doing the best for our children. So please, be assured, we really don’t need you to do it for us.
I think I can safely say, from all of the mums out there, back off and leave us to do our job in peace!
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Just leave us alone!