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When Did It Become Okay to Tell Others How to Parent?

Image source: Lauren Jimeson
Image source: Lauren Jimeson

This article originally appeared on A Mommy in the City and was reprinted with permission.

“Where is your mom?” 

“Where is this little girl’s mother?” 

I heard the entire conversation from the changing table.

We were at the airport yesterday in Los Angeles, with just minutes until our flight boarded. MacKay was held up at security, so I told him I’d take all three kids to go to the bathroom before the flight. I watched as the girls went in the stalls, just like they’ve done hundreds of times before, and I took Macks over to the changing table to change him.

Apparently Avery didn’t lock her door all of the way, so a woman accidentally opened it. But rather than say she was sorry and immediately shut the door, she took it upon herself to analyze the situation and let the entire bathroom know about it.

“Do you need help?” she asked.

I could hear Avery politely say no back.

“Don’t touch the toilet seat. That’s gross.” said the woman in return.

“DON’T TOUCH THE SEAT! IT’S GROSS.” she started yelling.

I heard nothing from Avery.

“You need help? Where is your mom?” 

Silence from Avery.

“I’m right here,” I said from the changing table.

“WHERE IS YOUR MOTHER? YOU ARE TOO YOUNG TO BE DOING THIS ON YOUR OWN. DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE THIS GIRL’S MOTHER IS?” she continued.

“I’M RIGHT HERE!” I finally shouted.

I grabbed Macks from the changing table, his shorts at his ankles, and walked over.

“She’s fine,” I insisted. “She does this all the time.”

“You mean you want her touching that nasty toilet seat?” she said to be with a judgemental look on her face.

“That’s what soap and water is for,” I said back.

“I’d never let my child do that,” she said to me confidently.

And that’s when I lost it.

“Listen lady, I have three kids to deal with right now. Two of which know how to use the restroom on their own. Our flight leaves in 15 minutes. When you become the parent of my daughter, then you can tell her what to do, but for now, let me parent the way I see fit and you stay out of it!” I said to her face.

“Wow,” she said to me as she walked into the bathroom stall.

I shut Avery’s bathroom door and told her to continue using the restroom and I was going to wait outside the door. As we walked to wash our hands a woman next to me congratulated me on my response.

I left the restroom with all three kids in tow before seeing the woman again, which was probably for the best. This lady struck a nerve. Not only was she questioning my skills as a mother, but she was invading the privacy of my daughter. She humiliated her in the bathroom and totally crossed the line.

When did it become okay to parent other people’s children?

When did it become okay to humilate a little girl and invade her privacy in a bathroom?

Why can’t we all just trust that parents are compentent in parenting and trust they can handle it on their own?

Why the judging?

The thing is, it’s not okay. It’s not okay to question other parents. It’s not okay to publicly go out and tell them how to parent their child. It’s not okay to step in a situation when it clearly is not in need of your opinion.

It’s not okay.

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