Good Parents Take Advice From the Child-Free

mom child looking out windowIt was the worst case of working mom guilt I've ever had. The kid was absolutely bombing at swimming lessons, and I couldn't be there to figure out what the heck was going on because, ahem, I had to work. I was left with just one option: put my trust in the swimming instructor who has no kids of her own.

In some circles, admitting that I let a member of the child-free by choice crowd weigh in on how to parent my kid is akin to blasphemy. Don't you know those people hate kids? How could they possibly know a thing about how to parent one?

Guess what. She was right about everything!

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My kid wasn't going to learn to swim that summer because she just did not want to. And nothing I or any adult did was going to change that. The woman who isn't a parent made the call, and I, the parent, took her advice. Her judgment was sound. It may have hurt my pride a bit, but I learned something about my kid that day that I didn't know before.

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If you think it's tough to study someone else's cribnotes on how you're raising your own kid, try taking them from someone who doesn't even have kids. In many ways it's a "until you've been there ... " situation. No one really knows what it's like to be pregnant, for example, until they've been pregnant (just as no one knows what it's like to have cancer or to lose a spouse or, really, this list could continue forever). And most moms you talk to have been burned by a child-free friend who unceremoniously discontinued the friendship after baby made three.

The divide between the two parties is there for a reason.

But it's one thing to draw a line between the two. Do we really need it to be a canyon?

We're all on the same global team here people, that big village. So one child-free person acted like an asshole, is it really fair to paint them all with the same broad brush? Think how you'd feel if a person without kids put you in the same category as that inconsiderate boob who lets her kid make a mess of a restaurant and then leaves it all for the waitress to clean up?! Exactly.

Sometimes my child-free friends don't know what they're talking about, and I reserve the right to smile and nod and then ignore their opinions completely the way I do with clueless old ladies in the grocery store who try to tell me my sweaty kid fresh from dance class really needs to have a hat and mittens on. Heck, sometimes my friends with kids talk out of their rear ends too, and I let it go in one ear and out the other. On the other hand, just as often, I step back and realize that there are people out there who are weighing in because they care about my kid. They may be wrong, but they may also be RIGHT!

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That swimming instructor knew what she was talking about because she is my daughter's godmother, a woman who has chosen not to give birth to her own children but was giving up her free time to try teach a little girl she loves how to move in the water. Ironically not one but both of my daughter's godparents are kid-free. One by choice, one because he's not at that stage of his life yet. And my husband and I chose them to be involved in our kid's life because, honestly, we're raising a person here. We could use all the help we can get!

What's the best advice you've ever gotten from a member of the child-free crowd?

 

Image via shutterstock

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