4 Times It’s Perfectly OK to Judge Other Parents

Parents, judgmentSome people feel better when passing judgment about someone else’s parenting by prefacing their comments with little disclaimers like “it’s not the decision I’d make for my kids” and other euphemisms to assure whoever they’re talking to that they’re not looking down the long nose of snootiness. Not me.

We have different ways of bringing our youngins up, and surely I don’t have even a quarter of the answers. Heck, I needed a cheat sheet for the ones I have come up with. That doesn’t mean I don’t formulate my opinions on good parenting versus bad parenting by some of the things I see other moms and dads do.

We all make mistakes — even, alas, with our precious offspring. But there are just some circumstances that are so cut and dry that it’s impossible for me to give parents a break or craft a mental excuse on their behalf. Not that they’re asking for one. But in these cases, they probably should:


Playing outside with no coat on in the dead of winter. I’m not talking about little Jay Jay from down the block who comes out of his parka during an impromptu touch football game with the boys. I was guilty of that foolishness myself when I was a kid. Even though I was chunky as all get out, I’d talk trash about being able to beat anybody in a 50 yard dash and end up getting too overheated to even think about keeping my coat on. Apparently, there was some sort of silent sensor attached to my sleeve because every time my arm came out of it, my mother was right there, threatening to cart my tail back inside for being, according to her, almost naked in the cold. I’m talking about kids I see everyday in paper thin jackets, sometimes even sweatshirts — little ones, not tweens and teens who think coats cramp their style. Skip the $100 sneakers and get the child a coat. Dang.

Running wild with no manners and lots of foul mouth. I’ve said it a dozen times before and I’ll say it a dozen times again: nothing curdles my blood like a kid on the loose who clearly doesn’t have enough parental supervision or discipline at home. Now there are exceptions when the little — or not-so-little — one is just showing off because they’re out from the watchful eye of their mom or dad. But there is also a whole cadre of kids whose parents could give a darn how they behave outside the house, so long as they’re not annoying them when they’re in the house. Then they unleash that wild child onto the world and let society eat the fruits of his or her bad behavior, suckish attitude, lack of self-control, and ability to sling filthy four-letter words better than any truck driver or longshoreman.

Participating in activities with no parent support.
There have been students at Girl Child’s school I’ve gotten to know pretty well over the years just because they’ve moved from grade to grade with each other. And as far back as I can remember, I’ve never laid eyes on those poor children’s parents. Not at PTA night. Not at school plays. Not at science fairs, career days, or sporting events. It’s almost like the poor babies hatched from pods and are raising their darn selves. I totally get all of the circumstances that might make being at every single activity difficult — single parenthood, working more than one job, having a super demanding career, family obligations. But not showing up to even one or two occasions makes me 1) feel bad for the child involved and 2) question mom and/or dad’s commitment to their kid. 

Having hair done, nails done, everything did and letting the child go all to hell. Most parents work hard for their money and deserve to pamper themselves if that’s how they want to spend their disposable cash. But for a while a few years ago, I was running across mothers with these perfectly coiffed hairdos, fresh-out-the-salon manis and pedis, super expensive designer shoes, jeans, and handbags — and a kid who looked like his or her hair hadn’t had a run-in with a brush since the day they were introduced to the outside world. If you invest money into yourself, why wouldn’t you share the wealth with your poor child? At the very least, your child is a reflection of you. So if you bedazzle yourself, why would you want your mini-you to look tattered and unkempt? Even better, why wouldn’t you just want to take care of the child, bottom line?

What do other parents do to make you shake your head and pass a fleeting judgment?

Image via Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com/Flickr

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