GROUP THERAPY: "Should I feel this hurt by unsolicited parenting advice?"



So today I bring you a post that is completely unrelated to cooking, eating, and enjoying food. Yes, as passionate as I am about those things, I very much have a life outside of them! Being “Mama” to a one and a two year old is what ‘life outside food’ revolves around these days. And as you know, it’s a 24/7 job.

Now I’m not going to go on about whether being a parent is “hard” or “easy”. What I will say though, is that being a parent is sometimes (read: often), “challenging”, and most (if not all) of the parents I know do their best at all times. Their best might not always be perfect and it certainly might not be what you or I would do in the same situation but it is THEIR best and I guess that’s my point.

One person’s right is another person’s wrong. One person’s “definitely do” is another person’s “definitely DON’T”. So why do some people feel the need to impose what they would and wouldn’t do in a certain parenting situation upon another person!? And why did this happen to me three times today? Nobody is perfect but the way some people launch onto you with their opinions demonstrates that some people think they are!

I’ll tell you about my day and you can let me know what you think. First up, this morning I took my two year old out for a little one on one time. We arrived at our local shopping centre and she was so excited when the lift taking us up from the car park arrived that she ran at one billion km/h into it. She charged into the lift so quickly that she bumped straight into the handrail inside, hitting her head pretty hard. It made a loud thud sound and my immediate reaction was “Oh shit! Sweetie are you OK!? Are you OK honey!?”

In the lift at the time was another woman my age (in her 30s) and a woman in her 50s with a teenage boy. The woman in her 50s screeches out to me “Oh my God!! Did you HEAR what you just said?!?!” And I was like “Huh?!” My daughter had just hit her head and I was too busy rubbing it and checking she was OK. So she repeats, “Did you or did you NOT hear what you just said!??!” So I said “I beg your pardon?!” and she says “You just disgracefully swore in front of your child!!”

The woman in her 30s gave me a knowing look and I just came straight out with “Oh God, she hears A LOT worse than that EVERY DAY!” (Not true at all but I felt like it might make her back off in shock! She was CLEARLY so offended by my knee-jerk use of the word “Shit” in front of my child.) Sorry for being human!

This is not Phoodie’s baby

The second incident occurred when I was in the grocery store and my son was screamingggggggg his head off, which he doesn’t normally do but when he does it’s enough to send me right over. Anyway, I ordered a coffee from the cafe at the back of the store and when I was paying I said to the barista, who was looking on sympathetically, “Oh he’s so naughty, I’m exhausted!”


A random woman at the deli counter flung around and said, about 2cm away from my face, “Did you just call your child ‘naughty’?” and I said “Um yeah,” and she said “NEVER, EVER say that again. no small child is naughty. They may be tired or teething or frustrated but they are NOT naughty and calling them so can cause them damage later in life.” OK, now that I’ve calmed down a little I can sort of see what she’s saying, repetitive verbal and emotional abuse and branding a child naughty 24/7 can stuff some people up. But she doesn’t know me, she doesn’t know if I’ve ever called him that before, and anyway, you might want to mind your own business.

Finally, I went for a walk with the kids after dinner, just around the block for about 15 minutes. It was a mild evening and my kids are (and always have been) “hot kids”. Like me, they really, really feel the heat. Anyway, as we were just about to step back into our home, a passer by, a man in his 70s, jumps in front of my double pram and yells out “Why aren’t those kids wearing jumpers?!”

Literally, just like that. BANG. No beating around the bush, no little intro before the big hit, just straight in with the ‘Why haven’t you dressed your kids appropriately you stupid, stupid woman?!’ style insult. Because it’s summer! Because they’re my kids! Leave me alone. *Sob*. I just stared at him and then opened my front gate. I was finished. A broken woman.

I came inside, put the kids to bed and started to think about what I needed to do to release some of my frustration and anger. I felt I had to seek refuge from the crazies of the universe. I had to feel that I wasn’t alone in this “stranger invasion” world. So I put a call out to my parent friends on Facebook to see if they too had been on the receiving end of such advice.

Within MINUTES I had about 20 stories from my mates that included one being abused by the guy delivering the groceries about her little girl’s nap time, another received detailed instructions about the “correct” way to hold her newborn from the teen dude working at 7-11, a third was informed by an elderly lady to put down her child as she “is too old for Mummy to hold anymore” (my friend was carrying her as she had been in a hip to toe cast for the previous 6 weeks) HECK, one of my friends even had a retail assistant remove her child’s thumb from her mouth, telling her that “sucking your thumb gives you bad teeth”! There were many more stories and they all screamed “invasion central!”

I now want to hear from you.

Have you ever received unsolicited advice from a stranger? Did it offend you? Have you been the giver of unsolicited advice? What made you want to advise the stranger?

After graduating from high school, Phoodie studied Interior Architecture at UNSW. She worked for several years as a designer before having the courage to throw caution to the wind and run, very, very fast to the Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in London. She is a cookbook, restaurant, and all round food obsessed blogger and Mum of 2. She can be found posting recipes here, tweeting here, or on Facebook here.

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