6 incredibly stupid tips for parents
Why do some strangers treat you as if you’re clueless, asks Janine Dunlop

Image via: Epic parenting fails/YouTube

Unsolicited advice from perfect strangers is always welcome... said no parent ever. I remember some true gems when I was a “young” parent. I use the inverted commas because I came late to the parenting game: I was 30 when I had my first child and 36 when I had my third. My problem was that I looked very young for my age. I know what you’re thinking: cry me a river. But my reality was that, because I looked young, people assumed I was clueless. Anyone and everyone felt the need to tell me just how incompetent I was.

Having been a parent for 100 (okay, almost 16) years now, I look back on those little gems and wish I’d had the guts at the time to challenge them. Here, mostly for my own benefit and satisfaction, I present to you my overdue rebuttals to some of the nuggets of parenting wisdom offered to me by random nobodies:

You look way too young to have all these children

You’re so right! I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m not even sure their nappies are on the right way round. You should probably take over here. I’m off to play with my Barbie dolls.

Your nose has grown since being pregnant, so that means you’re having a boy

Thanks for that. Not only have you insulted me, you’ve also made me want to walk around with a paper bag over my head for the rest of my pregnancy. Oh, and FYI: it’s a girl.

You shouldn’t knit when you’re pregnant: the cord will wrap itself around the baby’s neck

I’m so glad you told me! I’ll stop it immediately, because the very real threat that knitting could strangle my baby in utero had never occurred to silly, ignorant me. Is there anything else you think I shouldn’t be doing?

Did you know that taking them out of the house when they’re so young causes brain damage?

Your mom must have done the same to you.

You should only feed her every four hours or you’ll spoil her

Yeah, because that was my intention: to spoil my severely underweight premature baby who needs to take little sips of my breastmilk every two hours. But you’re right: Feeding her every four hours will teach her a thing or two about restraint and help her to manage her waistline.

He looks hungry: why don’t you feed him?

I’ve chosen not to. I’m trying to teach him patience and my favourite way to do that is to deprive him of food and then take him to a public place just to listen to him scream.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

What's the stupidest unsolicited advice you've ever been given as a parent?

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