I came across this article from MSN.com today that is an image slideshow of the 10 biggest non-mom faux pas. Already I know I’m going to regret reading this. I’m a childless woman, and I have many, many parent friends. Some I met because I actually looked after their children, and some were my friends before they had children. And many of these “faux-pas” are things that I have never seen any childless woman do.
A few of them, I can understand. It has to suck to be given unsolicited advice from someone who isn’t a parent. I do give advice when asked, because I’ve worked with a variety of children and families, but my friends know that it’s only advice I’m giving from my experience, and they also know that I understand all kids are different. Though sometimes I really want to give advice, I try to keep my mouth shut unless asked. I don’t like unsolicited advice, so it makes sense that parents wouldn’t, either. I think that one’s pretty self-explanatory.
It’s also pretty silly to read someone complaining about babies or things to do with babies, like breastfeeding. Listen, I’ll tell you first-hand: I hate to hear babies cry. If you can stop your baby from crying, please, do so in any way you feel necessary . . . I am not going to complain or sneer at all. I’ve done a few things myself in the past that worked for the situation that I may not have done otherwise – one of the worst looks you can get from anyone is that judgey look that says, “You’re failing as a caregiver. You suck.” So when people do complain, I eyeroll. It really is something I don’t think people understand until they’ve been there in a primary caregiver role.
But some of this other stuff – hating your friend because she bought new clothes? Getting “infuriated” because she asks you at the last minute to go out with her? These are “faux-pas” and awful things to do? Funny, I thought they were things that friends DO – and from the moms I know, they appreciate being kept in the loop of your life, and also appreciate being included even if they have to say no. I do try not to spring last-minute invitations on my parent friends, because I do know they have to arrange babysitting or trade-offs with their partner, but my friends like to be included and not ostracized because they gave birth. I’m pretty sure none of them would get “infuriated” because of any of that.
The pet thing – well, my cats are pretty important to me, but I don’t compare them to having children. I know the difference. But to some childless people, maybe even ones that can’t have kids, why is it so bad that they dote on their animals and state that they’re “furkids”? Is that really hurting you? And if you’re judging someone for that, doesn’t that make you the bad guy here? I can understand being annoyed at “Oh, I know. Fido threw up on the rug the other day and it was so sad and worrying, I thought I’d have to take off work! Hey, just like Junior’s flu last week, amirite?” But I can’t understand begrudging your friend her relationship with her animals to feel smug that you know “the real thing”. That’s dangerously close to “I know real love because I have a child. You don’t know real love because you don’t, and you never will until you breed.”
And the biggest one that gets me is “Why is she crying/still crying?” That’s not necessarily a snarky comment on your parenting. That can be genuine concern for your child and wanting to learn the reasons why a child might cry. I know everyone’s on an “I don’t have to educate you” kick lately, but that is something that I’d probably say to my friends, followed by, “Can I help in any way?”
I feel like this MSN article has vilified childless people just to show that a different lifestyle is “ignorant” and “infuriating” from the “ones who did it right” by having babies. Listen, it takes all kinds to make a world. Both lifestyle choices (or in some cases, lifestyle “don’t have a choice”, in the case of infertility) are valid and have pros and cons. I could turn around and write a scathing article about how some parents overshare and revolve completely around their children, but why? What does it prove? None of my friends are like that. None of the parents I know are like that.
We need to stop this war between women. It’s getting stupid and tiring, and in the case of this article, is completely unrealistic to many people’s experiences.
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