Dear Random Stranger… don’t judge my parenting


Dear nosey onlooker… I saw you frown at me when I passed my child a dummy in the supermarket today… My child is three and yes, perhaps she is too old for a dummy.. But she is a good girl, I am a good mother… She needed her dummy today, because it helps calm her down when she’s getting herself in a state… I am not going to deprive her of the comfort she may need in a moment of distress.

Dear elderly lady who stood ridiculously close to make sure I heard you mutter under your breath “Shouldn’t she be walking?” as you saw me push my daughter in her stroller today… Yes, she should be walking, however groceries have to get done in order for her to be fed… Her little legs don’t go the pace of mine at times of rushing around… She’s in her stroller because she’s tired… She had a restless night last night, was up at 5am and is now simply fed up with being in the supermarket and wants to go home to bed… I’m not going to make her walk when she is overtired and needing a rest.

Dear Sir who nudged my arm in the post office as I handed my daughter my iPhone… You proceeded to tell me ‘all this technology at a young age can’t be good for them’… Little did you know, my three year old was swiping through our family photos on my phone… You see, it’s Monday, her daddy is at work, and she misses him today… Observant enough to notice an iPhone but ignorant enough to assume she’s been on it all day playing games … Or at least that’s what your tone implied. Ps. Nudging a stranger is never a good way to open up a conversation… My three yr old daughter has better social skills and manners than you do… Googling ‘Manners’ on your iPhone might be worth a try.

Dear rude woman in the discount store, this week my child was a hassle to you because she was walking around ‘messing things up’… Last week she was a hassle because ‘my stroller is to big for your isles’… My daughter simply picked up a greeting card and put it back in a different slot… She is three… I’m sure it’s not going to ruin the feng shui of your $2 discount store riddled with boxes in the isles making it difficult for even the thinnest waif of a human being to somehow manage to walk down an isle without tripping over the crap you have strewn across the floor… The only reason I continue to come back to your shop each week is because you’re the only store that sells my glue gun sticks. Please don’t look at me as if I’d brought a whirlwind child into a Prada store!

Dear supermarket checkout lady, if you tell me one more time, “isn’t it time you had another one? She must be lonely without a sibling to play with”, Not only am I going to pay you in 5c pieces at my next fortnightly grocery shop, but I am going to make sure my daughter gives you reason to call out “clean up in isle 1,2,3,4,5,6 and the frozen section!”

Dear father at the park, yes my daughter stepped on your baby’s hand as she was climbing up the stairs to get to the slide… It was an accident… To which I made her apologise to your son… However, asking her to kiss his hand better and to ‘stay away from little children’ is not only inappropriate but utterly absurd … She’s a little child herself, she is three. She is tall, clumsy and at times doesn’t see tiny ones at her feet… Here’s a thought… Maybe look at the little girl apologising to your baby, and get some tips on how to manage it when your baby gets bigger and does the same thing by accident. I feel you of all people should know better.

Dear multiple random strangers who ask how old my daughter is and when I say three…Proceed to use phrases like ‘oh my gosh’, ‘she’s huge’, ‘is she really only 3??’…. No… No she’s not three… I thought I’d make that up for shits and giggles… My child is tall, lean, slender, tall for her age, lovely and long, tall like her daddy…And that’s that!

Dear horrified yuppie couple looking at me with the fire of a thousand suns as I scoop my screaming toddler up into a football hold and march across the road… I have feet kicking me, hands hitting me, her crazy wild curly hair flying over my face and in my mouth… Carrying her across the road is like carrying a bucking horse across a tightrope while balancing a hot beverage on my head… But by all means, stare away… I couldn’t care whether you think it’s a terrible sight… While you’re gawking with your mouths open, my only goal is to get my child across the road safely without her running into oncoming traffic … She’s having what we call a ‘tantrum’… Very common considering her age… Back to your lovely quiet latte sipping late lunch then.

And finally…

Dear mother, strolling your baby along in the pram…walking towards me on the footpath.. You saw my child was crying, whinging and generally being difficult … You saw her pulling so hard at my shirt that my bra was exposed… You saw me struggle as I repeatedly asked her to hold my hand…You saw my hair wasn’t brushed, my cheeks were flushed, my stress levels had risen… You saw past all that, and gently and graciously smiled at me…  A smile of understanding, a smile that said ‘hey, you’re doing a good job’ … A smile that knew just how tricky motherhood can be… A smile that said ‘it’s ok, mine does it to…and it’s tough’… We only crossed paths for a brief moment, but somehow with just a simple smile, you managed to ease my mummy guilt for a few moments … And your smile today made me realise, that I’m just trying my best to be the best mum I know how. And I thank you for that kind smile… You made my day a little brighter today because of it.

Do you feel like your parenting has been judged? Share your stories here.

40 thoughts on “Dear Random Stranger… don’t judge my parenting

  1. Jo Taylor

    Wow. I think you have a serious case of over sensitivity.
    The man who commented re the iphone was probably wanting a conversation so he could share how he couldn’t get his own child’s face out of the screen.
    The people commenting about your child’s height were also making conversation.
    Same thing for the check out lady – do you serously think she cares about your breeding timeframes?
    These people are just being polite – not judging – just trying to engage you in conversation. Yes, they don’t think before they speak but I can guarantee you are not perfect either.
    All those looks you imagine you are having? Maybe there is some sympathy in the glances. Maybe you were interupting an important conversation such as whether the cancer treatment worked or not.
    Breathe deeply and remember it’s not all about you.
    If you are this sensitive now you are in for a hard hard road as your children get older. And managing those school yard politics – better employ someone else now to do your school run.
    The Mum of a 3, 6 and 9 year old who a) doesn’t feel like the world has ever judged me like that or b) self confident enough not to care and c) has more important things to worry about

    1. Melissa

      Wow Jo, I think you are a B***H. People ARE judgemental, and they do not realize how condescending they are. Me on the other hand, by calling you a B***H, thought that the benefit outweighed the risk. When I am out with my family, I don’t want just anyone to come up to me, to give me their opinions on my children, I don’t care if you think I should do something different or better, but you need to keep it to your self. Some days it is about us, it should be. We should be lifting one another up, supporting one another, not cutting each other down, claiming “over sensitivity” and “its not all about you”.

      From the mom of a 10, 7, 5, and 2 year old who has felt judged, is self confident, but honest enough to admit I too have felt defeated.

      1. Tori

        I completely agree with your response to Jo. I am a young mother of a 1 year old and I get all if the same looks. I am doing what I feel is best for my child. All of the unnecessary comments and remarks about my child or my parenting are NOT needed… No matter how much confidence one has, there comes a time where they feel judged and overwhelmed with all of these different circumstances. . .

        1. JoJo

          She perhaps is being a little over sensitive, but I completely understand why. As Mothers I think we are the very worst judge of our parenting skills. We often set our expectations so high and when we don’t meet them we think we are failing our kids.
          I firmly believe that we are in a very special club. Sure it has huge membership, but not everyone can join it. We should be supporting each other through our own respective journey, not throwing harsh comments about.
          I am Mum to 2 year old twins. I struggled like hell to join the Mummy club and ultimately achieved motherhood with the help of an egg donor and surrogate. Our egg donor was Indian. My husband and I are white. So our kids have the most gorgeous skin tone. I often get asked why they are darker than me. I always explain the circumstances, whether I think they are being rude or not.

        2. Crystal

          Hi Maraya
          I’m almost in tears reading this because I have had many many similar experiences, tantrums, height comments, next child questions, the lot! People may be wanting to make conversation, or believe that side comments are helpful but I also believe these people have not given 1 second of thought about how I feel or how my daughter feels or what we really need in that moment. I must admit it takes another parent to relate to what you’re going through on a daily basis, but even then everyone’s excerience is different, and advice can be harmful. I had trouble breast feeding my daughter and I really didn’t get useful advice from anyone. All I got was comments about how important it is to breast feed and on the other hand people telling me my daughter is hungry – duh!! The stress made it worse in the end. Now she’s almost 3 I get every second person asking her which grade she is in school. So confusing for her that she’s started saying ‘I want to be home with Mummy’ whenever we see school children. Uh! Thank goodness I’ve built up the confidence to brush it off now.

      2. Vikki Girowetz

        Well said Melissa!! As a mum of a very boisterous 2 year old boy I get sick to death of the judgmental stares and ‘helpful’ advice from complete strangers, clearly Jo has no small ones of her own……

    2. tracey

      I couldn’t have said it better myself Jo. Too many people these days trying to play the victim in every situation.

    3. Lol

      Totally agree with you Jo. I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if I ever gave a poo what anyone thought of me. And it’s true, in this day and age, a lot of people are paranoid about people judging them, and yes, this is because sometimes it happens, but sometimes intentions are actually pure and everyone puts up their guard regardless.

      If you know that you are doing your best and that you are doing the right thing for your kid then why would you give a second thought to what anyone else thought anyway? That’s their problem not yours. By getting upset about it and letting it impact upon your life, then you are making it your problem. Joke with them or laugh at the situation, it might turn out to be something unexpected if you do.

      P.S This excludes people that blatantly come up to you and tell you to do something a different way because they think they know better or know the exact situation for what it is.

    4. Nikki

      I can relate to this article. I don’t think however that everyone is being judgemental, but more that most people think they have a right to comment or have an opinion on the way we raise our kids. I also think that like Jo Taylor some mothers believe they are super mums and that every mother is the same. I have identical twin girls and from the first day we took them out in public we were continually stopped by complete strangers for them to ask us personal questions and for them to give their opinions or for people to think they had a right to touch our children.

      Even now that my girls are older and when they had leg problems when they were younger and one of them had to have a metal external frame on her leg we always had people coming up to us asking what it was and saying how horrible it looked and asked us why we had out such a small child through something like this. Of course we had no need to explain any of this to strangers and we had spent quite some time building up our daughters self esteem and confidence going out in public with the frame in her leg for strangers then to say in front of her that it looked horrible made us quite angry.

      I think strangers need to keep their opinions and comments to themselves as the majority of the time they don’t think before they speak and they think they have a right. A friendly conversation starter can always lead in to more personal questions once you see if the other person is willing to discuss other topics.
      From a mum who a) also doesn’t feel judged but think strangers need to keep their opinions to themselves b) is also self confident c) thinks the age, gender or how many kids you have is irrelevant to how good of a mother you are. We are all trying our best and what works for one family won’t necessarily work for the next

  2. Holly

    What a wonderful article. So relatable! I get the “Are you still breastfeeding?” Judgments. My daughter is almost 18 months and yes we are working on weaning. And the you are going to regret letting her sleep in your bed. I haven’t and I doubt I will. She will sleep in her own bed when she’s ready. People need to keep judgments to themselves more often. We are all different. Different isn’t bad 🙂

      1. Vikki Girowetz

        I copped it for NOT breastfeeding, my little one was allergic to my milk so had to bottle feed and the criticism and backlash I received from random people in the street was Awful!!! I wanted to breastfeed but medically I couldn’t and was made to feel like a terrible mother because of it – I even has a total stranger (an older lady) come up to me in a shopping centre and call me a ‘lazy mother’ for bottle feeding my baby – was just heartbreaking

    1. Tanya

      I too have an almost 2 year old who is breastfeeding… and sleeping in my bed!
      She is fully toilet trained tho (day and night)!
      We have recently decorated her room to make it nice and pretty for her. She does start in her toddler bed, but usually ends up in my bed during the wee hours of the night.
      I’m hoping when I manage to prise her off my breast she will sleep all the way through the night in her own bed.
      But, she currently has no plans to stop feeding… her favorite song is, I want booby! D, dd d, d d. I want booby! Booby in the morning! D, dd d, d d, booby in the afternoon! I want booby!
      Followed by a ‘pleeasse mummy’.
      And to think… I always said I would stop breastfeeding when she was old enough to ask for a feed!
      Clearly she had other ideas!
      O’ well… so long as she’s weaned before she starts kinda.

      Mum of a 5, almost 4, and almost 2 year old… most days loving it!

  3. Maree

    Great article, totally agree. I have encountered countless similar situations and some very cruel unnecessary remarks. We are all doing the best job we can, we know OUR children better than anyone. The worst I encountered was a moment when my 18 month old was having a tantrum and screaming. I tried everything while waiting in a supermarket line. A man came up and said “you might want to get on top of that, it’s only going to get worse.” Then proceeded to tell my daughter that she is very naughty….Umm mate, my daughter is a baby! She doesn’t even know what that word means.

    Very cruel Jo, clearly you are not living in the real world! Good on you for not letting things get to you because you are “so confident”. Some people have a heart and are affected by these types of looks and remarks. They are not necessary, live and let live and trust that every mother is doing her best.

    From a mother of 2, 6 and 9. Who has been judged and is in tune with the human race to notice. Who is also confident and adores her children but also appreciates the honesty and relatability of the article.

    1. Suzie

      You made me laugh Amber. I have christened our toddler ‘my football’ for that very reason. I’m glad I’m no alone!

  4. LMUM

    “They” say that Motherhood is the toughest job ever.

    Not for people (perhaps like Jo) who only parent so it suits their lifestyle
    (feeling the sting of judgement yet Jo?)

    Parents who stop to care about the feelings of their children will often have a tough time because they understand it’s all putting yourself last.

    The phenomenon of “display home Mother” is well documented, you know the type (Jo?) running the ship like a drill sergeant because it is more important to LOOK like she is perfect, than to have her children feeling safe, loved and valued.

    Children seeing their Mum come out of her comfort zone once in a while, and surviving, learn a valuable life skill that really only resinates with them as they grow into young adults.

    Well done Maraya, your children are more likely to grow into caring, compassionate you citizens and all ‘round nice adults.

    NOW – To respond to Jo…………….. My responses marked @@ in / out @@

    @@ I have to say that I think Maraya’s “sensitivity” show a person with heart! @@

    The man who commented re: the iphone, @@ probably wasn’t smart enough to know how to start a polite conversation @@

    The people commenting about your child’s height, @@ were also in need of a serious attitude check @@

    Same thing for the check out lady – do you serously (check above for spelling Jo) think she cares about your breeding timeframes? @@ Must have just been deliberately trying to be rude then! @@

    These people are just being polite – not judging – just trying to engage you in conversation. Yes, they don’t think before they speak but I can guarantee you are not perfect either.
    @@ Obviously have been taught polite conversation by a ………… person lacking in social skills @@

    All those looks you imagine you are having? @@Pretty sure that you will have received these looks too Jo, but you’re just “self confident enough not to care” as you put it. I would put it a different way but……. I’ve learned some tact in my lifetime @@

    Maybe there is some sympathy in the glances. Maybe you were interupting (interrupting) an important conversation such as whether the cancer treatment worked or not.
    @@ This could well be the case – we will never know @@

    Breathe deeply and remember it’s not all about you. @@ Good advice when given out with a touch of kindness – when dispensed with arrogance it’s just plain nasty @@

    If you are this sensitive now you are….. @@ (I’ll finish this one properly for you Jo) going to be the kind of Mother you’re your children can depend on for a soft landing when they most need it. (studies have show that children without a soft place to land, will often resort to bad behaviour and/or substance abuse) @@

    And managing those school yard politics – better employ someone else now to do your school run.
    @@ Jo please read through again and take note of the differences between dependable Mothers v Drill sergeants and please pick your own children up from school every now and then @@

    The Mum of a 3, 6 and 9 year old who a) doesn’t feel like the world has ever judged me like that or b) self confident enough not to care and c) has more important things to worry about

    @@ From
    A grown up Mother of 7.
    Who’s children have never touched illicit substances, enjoyed their school and studies are going on to become Marine Biologists, Musical Scientists and more, They are GOOD, HAPPY, WELL ADJUSTED people and they are my pride and joy. They still feel safe enough to tell me (and show me) how much they love and respect me. I’m so PROUD!!!

  5. Jodie

    Very relatable, and by the last one I was tears – I hope I’m that mum that gives the ‘been there’ smiles.
    My kids are 4 and almost 2, a trip to the supermarket is an ordeal – but lets face it, being sat in a trolley whilst getting groceries isn’t fun. Yes, my son plays on my phone, yes I buy sugary treats to stop a meltdown – maybe it is her naptime, maybe she needs a nappy change etc etc – Do I need random strangers to tell me so? No, I know my kids routines thank you.
    Worst of all is the small shriek that comes out of my excited 2 years old mouth when she sees something she loves and must have – and the looks and sometimes words of others, acting like she’s a screaming bashee, rather than an excited toddler – some people should stay at home and learn some decorum. I don’t care if your kids were never like that, or that you could keep them settled , I’m most certainly not going to give her a good smack – my kids aren’t built to be like that – they’re loud, they love life – they don’t like shopping, and I can’t handle them both walking, so they get stuck in a trolley. My son is autistic, and doesn’t understand boundaries or danger.
    Don’t judge, what you don’t know or aren’t willing to understand!

  6. Fiona

    It all sounds too familiar & I feel your pain!!! I have a 6 year old daughter & 4 year old twins! My son was having a melt down in the supermarket & a lady grunted at me & gave me a dirty look (as if to say control your child) I was so mad & said to her “Please don’t look at me like that!! I’ve gotta deal with it you don’t!!” Her reply with a filthy look was ” WELL I have a hearing aid!!” So I ever so calmly replied “Welllll aren’t you lucky!! You can turn it down… I can’t!!” I’m not normally a person that would be like that but this day was a struggle with my kids & that lady pushed me over the edge!! But another lovely lady walked up to me & said “don’t worry love we aren’t all like that, kids are kids & what his doing is normal” Thank god she was nice because I probably would have lost it!! lol

  7. Shreya

    Whilst I have been given the look before and had judgements made on how I parent my child I do have to agree with Jo a little that there’s no point being over sensitive to these things. Pre – children I’m sure we all did the same thing. It’s so much easier to relate to someone when you are in the same situation as them. Sometimes people are honestly just trying to make conversation and may not realise that what they are saying is offensive or annoying to you. I get it a lot but I get over it as well as I know that really they meant well especially when It comes to comments like how tall your child looks. We will always be judged in this world no matter what – it’s how you handle it that makes a difference.

  8. Susan

    This is our life. I know myself that I have changed my views/attitude/understanding after having my own children. Pre children you think you have a clue but really you simply have no idea. Obviously all these incidents take their toll on a (sleep deprived?) busy mother so you get over it and speak out. Yes you are not alone and by making your story public I’m sure you help other parents in similar positions.
    My biggest thing in my life on public outings is how many times my 2 sons (now aged 4 &5) still get called girls simply because they both have long hair. It is like no one in this little world can think that boys can have long hair. Even after myself or my sons tell all these strangers that they are boys, the strangers do not listen/comprehend and some even dont believe it & laugh at the boys and tell them no you’re not your a girl!! We have had 4 years of this and this is the 1st time I have publicly complained.
    Sorry, Getting back to you & your story, sometimes it is hard for strangers not to judge. We all do it. But I agree with you that judgements should be kept to yourself. But in saying that I also agree with Jo to an extent that you need to not let these judgements affect you as a person. I know I’m pretty good at not caring so much what other people think, but some days in just depends how much sleep you’ve had.

  9. Vanessa W

    Funnily enough I feel the most judgement comes from other mothers! Playgroup was one scenario that I thought would be a sanctuary where we would help each other with all the stages and tantrums our kids were going through – boy was I wrong! It turned out to a crushing blow to my self esteem until I finally had the courage to leave. I haven’t spoken to those toxic mothers since & I’m much more comfortable with my parenting skills now! Enough that when some mother in the post office standing with her 4yr old called my 18month old daughter a ‘brat’ because she cried when I made her put something back, I felt confident enough to stand up to her & tell her to keep her opinions about my children to herself! I now always try and give an ‘I’ve been there’ smile.

  10. hannah

    I have also done the carry the screaming child whilst trying to get then safely to the car amidst staring. In one incident in particular I would have appreciated that one of the people who walked near me would have helped carry one of the three bags I was also trying to lug over a shoulder. I have since wondered if other people would appreciate offers of help or would they feel judged by that?

  11. Karen Williams

    I with Jo, you say you don’t care but obviously you do. I have 2 little ones. ..I have never noticed what others think. .. Because I couldn’t care less. You need to learn to ignore.
    As for the mother calling Jo a b,”;;h. .. You have a hide calling someone you don’t even know a word like that. Hypocritical much? ??

  12. Dez

    I felt as though I wrote this. My daughter is 4 and towers over children her age, and is loud, boisterous, and oh yeah a child. With a 2 year old son I’m often looked at strangely when one is pulling my top down from the trolley and the other pulling me in the opposite direction. I’m so tired of rude comments and those ‘looks’ that make you wonder if people think children are from Hallmark ads? Yes my children get tired, throw tantrums, and wow generally act like children! I highly doubt that other children are better behaved than mine or yours! But people expect us to hide them away and shush them as though they were an infestation of aliens out to ruin the future of the planet, rather than the ACTUAL future. Dear judgemental people, remember we were all children too, and it’s perfectly normal for kids to misbehave and otherwise push the boundaries! And though us parents would love to sit and relax rather than hassle our ways through our daily lives, what you may have forgotten to be ‘parenting’, you have no choice but to sit and deal with our children! So DEAL WITH IT!!!

  13. alana

    I think we are all sensitive to looks no matter how innocent they may have meant to be. I have had an innocent comment from a parent at my workplace kids christmas party make me think my child must be huge. This parent made a comment after I said something about my first child starting to move around a lot to the effect of looking him up and down sleeping in his pram and said shouldn’t he be moving more as he is 3 months old. I replied “ah no he is 3 weks old”.this parent moved on quickly after that. He was a long and healthy baby 5kg at birth but to me he was tiny. Just proves don’t judge a book by the cover as you may jump to the wrong conclusion in the end.

  14. Sarah

    I agree with you Jo, best to have a laugh with the person and keep the conversation rolling. You never know how having a chat with someone can change their day… And if they were judging, maybe a chat with them can change their perspective.

  15. Cate

    My feelings are more like Jo’s. Sure strangers are occasionally impolite. That’s life. A stranger’s grimace once made me reflect once that I actually shouldn’t have been doing what I was doing. I’m ok with that.. they may be right sometimes.. or just impolite. Either way I haven’t felt offended or stressed by it. Be kind to yourself.

  16. Shae

    I work in a supermarket and see many many many parents tryng to cope with a child who is just in the middle of losing there shit and i make sure they know i feel there pain and that they can do it!

    I have two young children myself and know that they do wear you down and you just get to the point where you feel so judged and so overwhelmed you just wanna throw in the towel.

    A ‘you can do it’ comment, or a smile can really help out another parent! I know it has helped me before!

    (PS i have also have those busy bodies tell me off for stuff so i just tell them to mind there own business or i will put them in time out! lol)

  17. Shelly H

    I don’t have children, I’ll just put that out there first. and I can’t imagine how big of a job it would be to be a parent. I do know people though, and I know that people can be judgmental and it is easy to judge back. But just imagine if everyone who ever felt like you did just put their head up, smiled at these people who are judging you without any reason, maybe even started a friendly conversation with them… you would change their thoughts from negative to positive that’s for sure, probably even make them feel bad if they were having an “out of character bitchy moment” and knew it. It takes someone strong to be the leader in this game of human relationships, all you need to do to feel good at the end of the day, know you are doing your best and you were a positive influence on those around you. then the more you will come across that person who smiles back at you. it’s infectious.. not that I would ever tell anyone how to be a parent but I am sure that when these things you listed happen, and you let it get you down, your attitude changes without you even realizing. in some cases withdraw to doubt yourself as well… a negative mood is also extremely infectious, and your kids will feel that. Being positive and happy is a choice we all make every day.

    ps. to that first commenter, you are a bully. that is all.

  18. Jackie Higgins

    I have a son who will be 5 in 2 months…and he still has a dummy at bed time…and when he gets really upset….and that’s ok….he doesn’t have a special blanket or soft toy he takes everywhere…every child is different, they all have special needs, when you allow this….you are being a wonderful mother, who understands their child’s needs.

  19. Dee McB

    I am always sooo careful with what I give my 8mth old little man. I make all of his food and never give “sweets”. However, once a week when I do the grocery shopping I give him a slice of “smiley fritz”, a deli meat with a smile face on it… So dear old fat grandma bitch who comments at me “well that’s real healthy for him isn’t it?!!”, shut up you ignorant cow. It keeps him happy for a short time while I run on my only day off each week. And your comment and asking for an ear full!… Which I gave 😉

  20. Jesse

    As a mother of a 3 and 5.5month old, I can totally relate to this article!
    I can’t stand the judgemental stares I’ve received when I’ve fed my 5.5month old a bottle! Little do they know that she decided to wean herself two weeks ago (which makes me feel very sad!), or how much I persevered through the pain of raynauds just to feed her for those 5 months!
    People need to get over themselves and maybe be a bit more understanding, we’re all just trying to do our best for our babies 🙂


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