If you’re a parent you’ve probably noticed this interesting phenomenon: The only perfect parents out there are the ones who don’t actually have kids themselves. You know, the ones who mutter disapprovingly in public about how much better they would handle their kids…IF they had some.
I am reminded in these situations of the words of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Elizabeth Bennet’s tormenter in Pride and Prejudice: “There are few people in England, I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself, or a better natural taste. If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.”
Common criticisms uttered by these armchair parents include heavy usage of the word “never.” As in:
•”I would NEVER allow my child to watch television.”
•”I would NEVER give my child sweets before dinner.”
•”I would NEVER let my 12-year-old wear makeup.”
•”I would NEVER bribe my toddler to behave if he were making a scene in public.”
Here’s the deal: Anyone who’s actually been a parent for at least 45 minutes has already learned that we should NEVER say “never.” We’re flying by the seat of our pants at every moment, doing the best we can as each situation comes along. By the time you’ve changed the 100th diaper in one day or plopped the kids in front of Sesame Street just to give yourself the chance to go to the bathroom without an audience, you know perfectly well that there are only a very few things you will NEVER do, and these few things mostly involve blunt instruments and duct tape. The duct tape may be negotiable.
So here’s a little advice for those oh-so-perfect not-parents out there just waiting to pass judgment on the rest of us who are simply doing our best: NEVER open your mouth.