When you become a parent, you become somewhat of an unsolicited advice magnet. It’s not that people are trying to be rude or condescending or vindictive, it’s just what people do. Sometimes non-parent friends aren’t sure what to talk about, now that you’ve got a bun in the oven or a baby in your lap, so they try and involve themselves in your parenting. That’s totally fine, to be sure, but there’s a fine line between being a thoughtful friend and being, well, not, and there are a lot of things that non-parents should not comment on. Not from a place of "expertise," at least, and not if it's challenging what one parent has decided works best for them and their children.
Technically, there are certain things that no one should be commenting on when it comes to your personal life and how you raise your kids. Of course, there's flexibility and room for comment and life isn't black and white enough for the collective "we" to say, "You can say this, but you can't say that." For example, as a new mom, you might want to (at the very least) have an open mind when your veteran mom friends make parenting suggestions or give warnings about certain things. Then there’s your own mom. You might want to ignore some of your mom’s parenting advice while totally embracing other gems of wisdom. Finally, and it's definitely worth mentioning, there are moments when you should listen to anyone's comments on your kids, especially if it has to do with their safety or their health or an issue you may be overlooking (because you're a human being and you can't possibly see everything all the time.)
However, minus a few select and unique situations, people who don't know what it's like to be a parent (no matter how often they've watched children or worked at a daycare and/or how many siblings they have) shouldn't be commenting on certain things, including the following:
Your Decision To Have Kids In The First Place
No one has the right to tell you when and whether or not you should have kids. Just like many non-parents don’t want to hear questions about when they’ll have kids or why they don’t have them, parents or parents-to-be don’t want you to criticize them for their choice. Not cool at all.
Your Birth Plan
Moms-to-be sometimes want to hear about the experiences of others moms who have had hospital births, low-intervention births, natural C-sections, water births, etc. But hearing from non-parents about what kind of birth they should be having? Yeah, no one wants that.
Not all parents have the energy to put time and thought into their appearance. Some moms are able to make it work and never leave the house without make-up and a matching outfit. Other moms are cool with donning stained tees and yoga pants. If your friend’s appearance has changed in any way since having kids (and even if it hasn’t, really), there’s no need to comment on it.
Your Decision To Breast Or Bottle Feed (And/Or When To Stop)
Choosing to breastfeed vs. bottle feed is an incredibly personal decision. It’s also a sensitive subject for many moms: ones who want to breastfeed but can’t, ones who simply don’t want to breastfeed but fear stigma, and countless mothers in between. No one, and especially not non-moms, have the right to say anything about it that isn't insanely supportive.
And What Else (And How) You Feed Your Child
Some kids have feeding delays. Some have sensory issues. Some are simply picky eaters. Some are open to eating everything, even when it is on the floor. But what a kid eats is between the parent (or caretaker) and child and there are just some things non-parents shouldn’t say about a kid’s meals.
Whether You Stay Home Or Put Your Kid In Daycare
If you were working full-time prior to having kids, your non-parent friends might raise their eyebrows when you decide you want to stay at home. Others might have had negative experiences with daycare and have strong feelings about you going back to work. In the end, it’s your choice alone to make, and everyone should feel confident in your ability to make it.
How You Dress Your Little One
Some folks might want to comment on how you dress your kid, especially if you have a gender non-conforming child or a child who enjoys wearing a variety of clothing, free from the restrictions of gender labels. Really, who cares what anyone else thinks as long as your kid is happy and comfortable?
What Toys You Allow Your Kiddo To Play With
On that note, some non-parent friends (and even parent friends) might frown when and if you allow your child to play with toys that are normally used by kids of the (presumed) opposite gender. Toys have no gender, people, and kids should be allowed to play with whatever they want. Your non-parent friends really don’t have a leg to stand on if they want to discuss this.
How You Discipline Your Child
It’s hard being a parent, especially when your kid finally reaches the age where they become defiant. Learning what works in regards to discipline for your family is a challenge, and one that no non-parent should ever get involve in.
Whether Or Not Your Kid Gets Screen Time
Screen time has become a hot-button issue for parents (and apparently non-parents?) lately. Some folks think unlimited amounts of screen time is fine, others swear that any screen time will damage a young child. Regardless, it’s up to parents to decide what works best, and non-parents can keep the advice they read on a news article to themselves.
How Soon Your Child Should Be Reaching Milestones
Every child is different. Some walk as early as a year, others might not take an unsupported step until they’re almost two. Some have an extensive vocabulary by the time they turn two, while others might not be forming sentences till they’re closer to three. Like I said, all kids are different and no one, especially not non-parents, should be asking what’s “wrong” with your kid or why they haven’t started doing X, Y, or Z. As moms, we’re already hyper-vigilant of everything our kids do, and we certainly don’t need anyone else bringing up things we already know.