Parenting Perspectives from a Childfree Woman

In the parenting world it’s generally discouraged and frowned-upon for someone without children to offer parenting advice.

And I totally understand that.

It makes sense, right?

How could someone without children ever understand what it takes to raise a well-rounded, polite, intelligent child? How could someone without children judge other parents for their parenting skills and abilities without the experience to back it up?

All of that is accurate and defensible.

But I’m going to offer an alternative perspective.

Everyone has parents, and therefore everyone has been parented, at least to some degree at some point in their lives.

If you were raised by wolves, you were still parented. Just by a wolf. It’s how the world and life work.

People know what helped and what hurt them as children. And, if they don’t, there might be some memory issues involved that are a whole other can of worms.

I grew up thinking my life and childhood were pretty normal, but that notion got pretty much destroyed in my early twenties and led to therapy.

You can read more about that in my guest post on Nerve 10, “How the Idea of Normal Almost Broke Me.”

Simon Sinek gave a powerful talk on the millienial generation and how we’ve grown up with dysfunctional parenting methods and, through no fault of our own, are now the generation of “entitled, lazy” people who need instant gratification and can’t put down our phones.

Is it any wonder, then, that many of us without children have opinions on how to parent well, and what it means to raise a well-rounded, polite, and intelligent child?

My perspective is going to pretty high-level instead of getting into the weeds about when a kid should be using her inside voice or not.

If she even has an inside voice.

There are things parents should do, and things parents shouldn’t do.

Parents shouldn’t praise their kids for being smart and getting good grades. There are other ways to encourage kids to enjoy learning.

Please see Carol Dweck’s book that addresses this, titled Mindset (affiliate link).

Parents shouldn’t let their kids become addicted to TV, phones, tablets, and other electronic devices that get them to “shut up.”

Have you seen that video of a child trying to use a button-controlled Nintendo like a touchscreen? She couldn’t figure it out!

Parents shouldn’t ever put down or dismiss their child’s interests, or try to force them down a career or schooling path because it’s what they think is best. (Looking at you, Dead Poet Society!)

Parents should never act like they’re entitled to anything simply because they have a child. This happens a lot in restaurants especially. I’ve heard stories about restaurants implementing “no kids” rules and then getting threatened by outraged parents.

Parents who blame their kids for their own problems are a whole ‘nother story. If you can’t figure out how to save money (like by quitting smoking or drinking) for your child’s benefit, it’s not the kid’s fault!

Side note:

The childfree community in general is not hateful towards children. While many of us aren’t fond of small children (and none of us want kids of our own), the vast majority of gripes we have are directed towards the parents of unruly and poorly-behaved kids.

Do we think we could do a better job? LOL no, but we have opinions about what good parents should be doing!

Our opinions are most often based on what we experienced and witnessed when we were children.

Things like parents giving more attention to one sibling over another.

Or ignoring the problem of “sibling abuse” as normal childhood interactions.

Letting kids act like little Dudleys — and by this I mean acting like Dudley Dursley from Harry Potter, who “kicked and screamed at his mother for sweets” at age two.

Mothers who think their children are the most perfect angels who wouldn’t hurt a fly, and yet in reality are the worst bullies on the playground.

Fathers who are fathers in name only, who never spend the time teaching their sons what it really means to be a man.

Parents who preach “do as I say, not as I do.”

Children learn by example.

Are you, as a parent, leading by example?

Parents who disown or abuse their children for their sexual orientation. If your kid is gay, he’s still your kid!

Maybe re-evaluate your misguided views.

This leads me to divorced parents.

There was probably a good reason for the divorce, but there is NEVER a good reason to bad-mouth the other parent to the kid(s). Telling the kid the facts is different from saying “your dad is a deadbeat and you can’t trust him.”

My parents are not divorced.

In fact, they have a strong, healthy relationship and have been married for over 36 years. They lead by example.

But my parents also were not perfect.

I ended up getting more attention because of my diabetes diagnosis, which confused and alienated my sister. When she lashed out, my parents (for the most part) didn’t know what to do.

So they did nothing.

And I grew up thinking it was normal. Every child, until presented with an alternate reality, thinks that their experiences are normal even when they’re not.

For a multitude of reasons, my husband and I decided together that we will never have kids. This doesn’t isolate us from kids; we have a niece and we both volunteer every year at a day camp for children with type 1 diabetes.

While we will never experience the trials and demands of parenthood, we respect the parents who are raising the next generation.