YourTeenMag.com ran a post titled “Parenting Advice from a Childless Woman” that’s circled round the web to me several times. It’s a measured rant about shopping malls as babysitters and the rude or nonexistent manners seen in so many kids out and about.
The writer is Ageleke Zapis, author of A Childless Woman’s Guide To Raising Children. Ms. Zapis is clearly comfortable opening herself to Mom-fire. The rest of us? Probably not so much.
NotMom girlfriends offering unsolicited parenting advice can be walking a perilous path, but it can be a case-by-case thing, too. Even with an accepting Momfriend, presentation matters. “Why don’t you do such-and-such” may not be heard as well as “What if you did such-and-such” instead.
My childhood memories include several of NotMom relatives who drove my mother buggy with “Elizabeth, you should do this,” or, “Really, Elizabeth, you’re doing this wrong because…” I didn’t want to be that person. Ever.
As a result, I probably leaned too far the other way, staying quiet when a suggestion may actually have been appreciated. The example that’s always first in my memory happened when my goddaughter was in her teens and preparing for a summer in Ghana. Her mother asked if I thought the trip should be cancelled in light of troubling headlines in the region. My response: “I don’t know how anyone lets their child out of the house to go to kindergarten. How could I possibly advise you on this?”
I’ve come to believe that every woman without children has at least one story where her opinion was dismissed because “you don’t have kids.” The impact can be painful, yet some of us, like Ms. Zapis, are up to the task. Is that you, or are you silent on the sidelines?